Dear Dr. B,
We are headed on our family vacation. My wife says I don’t really relax when we travel. She’s probably right. If you’re used to being the provider and in charge, how can I let that go to enjoy my family better on vacation?
Dear Reformed Traveler,
I wish it wasn’t true, but I can relate to your question. Yet I referred to you as a reformed traveler because I have been where you are and have fairly successfully changed my ways, and you can too.
Tip 1: Spend more time with your family while you have the opportunity.
One thing that really put this issue in perspective for me was when I realized that at the end of my life I will not ever wish that I had worked more. But at the end of my life I don’t want to look back and wish I had spent more time with my family because I failed to do so when I had the opportunity to.
Tip 2: Give your family the best of what you worked so hard to provide.
Another thing that helped change my mindset while on vacation was realizing that when I work, I work very hard to provide for my family and to make enjoyable things available for my family like vacations. Yet if I spend my vacation working, on my technological devices, or even just mentally preoccupied, I wasn’t giving them the best of what I had worked so hard to provide.
Tip 3: Determine the reason for your trips.
Before planning your vacations, determine the reason for your trips then follow through to ensure those goals are met. I came to the realization that we often chose our trips in order to give my family great memories. Yet if I remained preoccupied while on vacation, my family might remember our trips, but sadly, they would lack memories of my time with them.
Tip 4: Start a Travel Journal.
Invite your family to start a travel journal with you. Each day jot down notes about everyone’s favorite parts of the day. Knowing that you will do that will keep you more aware of those times you are doing things that wouldn’t make it into the journal.
Tip 5: Limit your time connected to technology or the office.
If the thought of completely disconnecting is a foreign notion and causes you stress, consider making a promise to yourself and your family to limit your time connected to technology or the office for only a prescribed length or time of day. For example, maybe you choose to get up and do all your necessary work for the first 90 minutes of the day and the last 30 minutes of the day, then spend the rest of the time enjoying those you are with.
Tip 6: Set clear boundaries for co-workers and colleagues.
In the same vain, let your co-workers and colleagues know your intentions. Set clear boundaries, and tell them what they are. Then you will not feel the burden to respond when they make a request or contact outside the parameters you established and you won’t be letting them down. They will appreciate you for that and may help serve to keep you accountable.
Tip 7: Turn off notifications on electronic devices.
To minimize the temptation to just “check in for a minute…” turn off all notifications on your electronic devices so that they don’t have the opportunity to serve as a distraction from your family and rest time. Out of sight, out of mind, so to speak.
Tip 8: Give yourself adequate time to rest and recover from stress.
Also, keep in mind that your body and brain weren’t created to run on stress all the time. The longer you push yourself without giving yourself adequate time to rest and recover, the worse your productivity will be. Just like God teaches us to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy, by taking one day off from work, you can consider vacation a type of Sabbath.
My prayer for you is that you would appreciate this family vacation time as a gift from God, and treat it as such. Allow it to refresh and renew your mind, body, and spirit, just as His word promises:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
Happy, Relaxed Travels!
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