8 tips for a mindful vacation


I was visiting with a good friend last week who was feeling exhausted, frustrated and saddened that her recent family vacation was not what she had intended. “We crammed too much in, checked our work email too often and didn’t build in enough downtime. I don’t feel like we really got to connect as a family,” she shared.

Planning a summer vacation and feeling stressed about where you’ll go, what you’ll do and whether you can afford to take time off from work responsibilities (not to mention the mountains of emails you’ll find when you return)?

Here are some tips for creating a less stressful, more mindful vacation that leaves you feeling renewed and recharged:

  • Prepare! Get things handled (and delegate work) in advance so you can leave it at home/the office and be present with your kids
  • When planning a family trip, ask, “What do we really need to recharge?” Maybe it’s camping or hiking at Yellowstone, maybe it’s a trip to a big city, or maybe it’s visiting old friends and renting a lakehouse together. Plan a trip that will help you re-balance, replenish and really unwind so you return home rested.
  • Unplug — as much as possible (your body/mind need a rest from technology) and set guidelines for the kids and yourself on how/when/if you’ll use technology while away
  • Do less to experience more (the less choices/decisions we have to make on vacation-the happier we are)
  • Keep it simple — Don’t complicate things, create busy itineraries or overschedule yourself or your family (kids especially hate to be rushed)
  • Schedule unscheduled time — seriously — you and your kids need time to daydream in hammocks, stroll around your surroundings and just let things happen spontaneously
  • Spend time in nature — the ultimate antidepressant — enjoy family hikes, lounging on the grass, picnics next to the lake, exploring lost trails, soaking up the sun
  • Rest — give your entire family permission to be lazy and lie around (this may mean staying in pajamas until 3:00 p.m.)

If you’re a parent, it can also be helpful to visit with families who have kids of similar ages prior to planning your family vacation. Ask them to share what their favorite, most enjoyable, relaxing vacation spots have been. What worked and what didn’t work for them on their trips? And don’t be afraid to “do less, to experience more.” How many times have you heard friends share that their all-time favorite European vacation activity was not visiting the Eifel tower, but spending hours drinking coffee and people watching while sitting at small, quaint sidewalk cafes?(Read more about how to “Do Less and Experience More” in my new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family.)

INVITE: Having a too-busy summer and needing a truly nourishing and soul-satisfying respite? Join me this fall for one of my highly popular self-renewal retreats on the east coast.  Check out my 2014-2015 schedule. Or, join me for a powerful (but inexpensive) virtual retreat this Sept.: Permission Granted: The Art of Extreme Self-Care.


Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance and mindfulness teacher and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.




  1. Crystal says:

    ahhhh… nice to be reminded to of this as I get ready to head off for a much needed creativity retreat in Vermont’s beautiful north east kingdom and then a week with my husband and son. Thanks for your work Rene – It speaks deeply to me.