Yes, traveling can be exhausting. We want to figure out where to eat breakfast, how to get from the airport to the hotel and around the town, purchase tickets to the top sights, procure dinner reservations etc…lots of logistics.Then, it’s the little things, the small inconveniences that remind us we’re in a different country and what we take for granted and even miss about home. We become aggravated by waiting in line to rent a car when there’s only one person at the counter and at least ten people ahead of us. Or waiting to be served and waiting and waiting…where are the waiters? Then finally, after being served and enjoying a meal, waiting to ask the server to bring the check and then waiting some more for the bill to arrive! Are difficulties an aggravation or opportunity?
Vacations are not meant to be exhausting. There’s so much to see and do in a new place and it’s exciting. Traveling is a time for enlivenment, relaxation and, despite the possible vexations, Slowing Down. How do we adjust? How do we adopt a different pace? Can’t we pose the same question about our weekends at home? Do we even know how to truly rest?
Perhaps you’re laid back like my husband and given a few hours of free time, you know how to do nothing! What a gift! With life’s many demands and technology demanding our attention 24/7, most of us, however, struggle to disconnect and be comfortable with a slower quieter pace.
Here are a few tips to for the next time you venture abroad, to a new place not far from home or just need to slow down on a weekend. Living with a traveler’s perspective applies wherever we are!
Rhythm: Days as travelers are not patterned from activities similar to our daily lives. We control our choices, how to spend our time.“Visit every tourist site” is not in our job description. Even if wanting to see as much as possible, we can orient ourselves to a day that is truly open to our desires and might even mean seeing as much as possible, if that’s our heart’s desire. There’s no right or wrong to how we accomplish our schedule nor anyone telling us what to explore. We decide. Maybe we’ll sleep late, have a lazy late morning coffee, decide to buy lafternoon tickets for an exhibit and then start our day with a leisurely walk in the neighborhood. Find your rhythm!
Pace: We’re on vacation, having “cleared the decks”. We’ve earned time away. We’re also in a different physical space separating us from visual cues associated with daily life. The pace is ours to set. There’s little need for a wrist watch or constantly checking our cell phone for the time.
Weekends at home pose different challenges…there are physical reminders everywhere of our “To do’s”. The refrigerator is empty, for example, demanding to be filled! The errand list is long. Still, after a long work week, we must decide to reward ourselves with some rest and set fair expectations for how many “to do’s” we’ll attempt to complete during our Saturday and Sunday. Even if it’s an hour on the couch watching basketball or perusing online news sites, pausing is valuable to our health and productivity. Decide when to insert some down time every weekend.
Eating: When away you’ll figure out your own mealtime schedule: three meals, two meals with snacks, big lunch followed by a siesta. Adopt the local rhythm to glean a sense of how life goes: In Madrid, for example, small breakfast, late lunch, Siesta, late dinner, bedtime in the early morning. Mimicking how the Locals live translates to lovely experiences different from our normal lives, aka, true vacation memories.
Be deliberate about the pace of your meal (this is especially important when at home). Allow plenty of time for the experience. Value mealtime as a way to slow down. Chew slower. Relish in the different tastes and native menus. Everyone can eat slower!
Disconnect from technology. This is harder to do than we realize and in many cases unrealistic. We’re so accustomed to using our phone- it’s a constant companion and resource. As much as possible, turn the sound to “mute” when time has opened up, when you don’t have to be on call, when you’ve gleaned the information needed for the tour or from work. Block out time on your holiday (and during the weekend) to even turn the phone off (do you really need to have your phone with you at a yoga class, or when you with all your fellow travelers, for example?)! When possible, leave technology behind for some part of your day. This will help you revel in a different sense of time.
As we adjust our expectations for free time and vacation schedules, we’ll settle into a healthy happy routine, becoming familiar with the richness in our lives and the opportunities right in front of us to discover, explore, be curious and experience newness and aliveness wherever we are! Little inconveniences will remind us to slow way down. Pure Vide!