How to Vacation Mindfully

How to Vacation Mindfully

Phone on beach, mindful technology


It was easier to “get away from it all” on vacation before smartphones and the Internet. Our ever-present devices now blur the line between work and vacation, making it more important than ever that we be actively mindful on our vacations, lest our precious time away from work become little more than a week-long telecommute, leaving us feeling like we need a vacation to recover from our vacation.


Here are some tips for vacationing mindfully:


  • Make a “not to do” list. If you don’t clearly set your intention for what kinds of activities are off-limits while on vacation, you run the risk of mindlessly letting work and other activities take over your fun time.  Before you start a vacation, write down a clear and concise list of those things you want to avoid doing on vacation, such as “check email at the beach,” “get a head start on that memo before breakfast,” or “post to Facebook.”  Review the list mindfully at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and carry it around with you.  If you’re brave, share the list with your family and authorize them to hold you to it!
  • Set your intentions in addition to planning your activities.  All too often we focus on what we are going to do on vacation–climb a mountain, see a whale, eat at our favorite restaurant.  Although such goals can be fulfilling and memorable to achieve, focusing solely on activity-based goals can leave us feeling disappointed.  One reason is that we often try to do too many things.  Another is that planning a vacation full of activities can run counter to a primary goal of many vacations–to recharge our spent energy.  To protect yourself against this, try setting your non-activity based intentions for each vacation, such as “rejuvenate,” “connect more deeply with my family,” or “experience nature directly.”
  • Plan collaboratively with your fellow travelers.  Another reason for vacation disappointment is that we tend to set our own individual goals for vacations, even when we are traveling with others.  If you are going skiing with your family and your goal is to beat your own personal record down the hardest trail and the rest of your family is looking forward most to seeing a herd of elk, you are setting yourself up, not only for disappointment, but also for conflict.  Follow the first two tips in this list not only individually, but also collectively with anyone else who is going on vacation with you.  This doesn’t mean you need to agree on everything.  If you disagree before the vacation starts, this at least gives you a chance to compromise and figure out a way to achieve everyone’s goals before vacation tensions start to run high.


Vacation time is too precious to waste mindlessly.  The last thing you want to happen is to reach the end of your vacation only to wonder, “Where did all of that time go and why do I now feel more stressed and less grounded than before the vacation began?”


I hope that these tips help you spend your vacation a bit more mindfully, and joyfully.


(FYI, I’m writing this post while on vacation and I give myself a B- at following my own advice.  Fortunately my vacation just started and I will now get a late start at vacationing mindfully!)


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