How to Plan the Best Relaxing Vacation

Posted by Paul Parr on March 14th, 2009

Your boss is driving you crazy. The weather has been awful. Your partner needs relief and a change of scenery. The stress level is going through the ceiling and you just need to get away from it all. You need a break, ideally a tropical island with warm off shore breezes, white powder sugar sand, sun tan lotion, a good book and NO stress. You might want to add a few no’s to the list. Perhaps no phones, no computers, no newspaper, no television, no kids or maybe not. The reality is you need to custom design the perfect vacation that will give you a holiday away from those daily pressures and stresses that have brought you to the mental condition you presently find yourself experiencing. You need an escape and some time to regenerate, veg out and heal your mind & body so they are back in your usual form to fight the battles and conquer the issues of the day. What you are going through is normal and the cure is really pretty easy. You just need to commit to do it.

Now that you have identified the problem and determined the cure all that is left is to finalize the plan. Like all things in life the plan needs to be well researched and developed to achieve a perfect 10 on the “I found the perfect get-away” scale. In order to achieve perfection in planning and execution we will start with the Dave Letterman style “Top Ten List” to have a perfect vacation. Unlike David’s typical list, we would like you to go to the bottom and read #1 before you work your way down the list from #10. You will find this peek ahead exercise useful as you plan your trip.

#10 When are we going to go? To insure success, perfect planning requires time to execute the plan, so you need to determine your departure and return dates. Choosing tonight or tomorrow as your departure date is not going to work! Remember, you want to get away and relax and this means not coming back to the same situation that you are leaving. So get with your significant other or whoever and determine the dates that will work best for all who will be going. If you’re going solo, then you at least need to put sanity into first things first when choosing your dates. Keep in mind that a well planned and executed vacation experience is truly cathartic and this is why you are planning your needed break. When choosing the time period that you will be gone, keep this in mind;

A weekend get-away is like a shower, pretty soon you need one again.
A one-week get-away is definitely a needed break, but on the fourth day you feel your departure day looking over your shoulder.
A two-week or fortnight holiday break is certainly restful and though you will regret that it is over on the night before you depart to return home you will be refreshed.
If you can do it, a three-week absence from regular routine will truly be restful and you will find yourself planning in the third week what you are going to do when you return home. You are actually looking forward to this and your time away has been very therapeutic. You have a new outlook on life.
#9 How am I going to get out of here? Now that you have chosen the dates you need to plan your exit. Look at all of your work chores and all of your home chores and obligations and put into place a plan on how you will have both of these covered in your absence. Now is not the time to take on more responsibility or assignments. Volunteer for nothing between now and departure and figure out how you can wrap up as much as possible before the great escape. You are in a furious complete, pend, assign, delegate or trash it mode.

Take care of clearing the time away with the powers that be at work.
Arranging for care and watching for the kids or planning their school work while they are with you if they need the break also.
Someone will need to water your plants, mow the lawn and other home chores.
You will need to stop the mail and newspapers, no sense in advertising to everyone that you are not at home.
In most cases if you have pets you will want to make arrangements for them in your absence. The last thing you need is a pet emergency in the middle of your vacation because you brought Fido along.
Keep in mind you are only planning a window of time that has an escape date and a return date. This is not a, “How are they going to get along without me forever?” assignment.

#8 Where are you going to go? This can be a tough one and you certainly want to make sure that your vacation destination does not add to your existing stress level and in fact the location, properly vetted, should do much to reduce and help eliminate your accumulated stress. Perhaps a retreat to a south sea island in a foreign land, or a remote mountain top where the nearest communication or phone signal is miles away. Maybe it is that cabin in the woods that your friend told you about or that piece of beach in Florida that is to die for. I know, at this point they are all sounding pretty good, but maybe you need to make your own list of places to go and think deeply on what the goal is. Ask yourself some pretty important questions. Is traveling to a foreign land going to be a hassle and give you any stress? If the answer is yes, scratch it. If the answer is no go to the next choice. If you get to that south sea island, remote mountain top or solitude in the deep woods and you are hit with torrential rains, unrelenting weather, or some other natural or unnatural condition will this give you stress. If the answer is yes, scratch it. Don’t despair! I am not recommending that you scratch everything, I am just making sure that events beyond your control do not ruin your plans for a peaceful and relaxing break in your busy life. You will notice that the #1 item on this list is a contingency plan ( you did do as instructed and read #1 first before starting down this list did you not?). Hopefully you will not need it, but if you do it is your safety net and you will be so happy that you planned accordingly. My sister traveled to Madagascar in 2008. Just imagine if she had planned this life long desire to make this trip in January of 2009 when the government was overthrown and rioting taking place in the streets. What would the contingency plan be on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean? Don’t plan a trip that boxes you in with no alternative location when your major goal is to get away and relax. You wanted a relaxing south sea island and chose South Padres Island off of the coast of Texas. A few weeks before departure you realize that a brewing hurricane appears to have this area in its path and you don’t need the stress of having to evacuate. You have made your reservations with the recommended caveats listed below and you now exercise your ability to redirect your south sea vacation to Siesta Key off of the Gulf coast of Florida in that fabulous penthouse condo. You did good!

#7 How do you find the best place to stay? Finding your perfect vacation destination should actually be pretty easy. You have many sources to reference and people to ask who can give you guidance. Only you can decide the ultimate location after reviewing all of the options. Paramount on making your choice should be the vacation goals that you originally agreed upon. You have now picked your destination and your actual place to stay is patiently waiting for you, but you need to find it. Friends who have vacationed at your targeted destination will be helpful as will travel books that review this area. You have the option of a hotel, motel, rental home, condo, cottage, cabin or tent. Each of these have their own pro and cons. Hotels can get expensive and sometimes not real friendly with many people coming and going. Motels can be similar but usually on a smaller scale. Tents are for a certain person and if you are that kind of p