7 ways to have a more 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 or take full advantage of our magical surroundings,” 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)?

Whether you’re going camping at a local state park or heading to the mountains, 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 lake house 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 over-schedule 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? Remember this as you consider what will truly nourish you on your next getaway.



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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on her background here.

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