Most people vacay to get away, without focusing on the why behind the need to get out of dodge. Travel opens us to new experiences and broaden our horizons — at least that’s what we’re told from a young age. While this is true, few people approach travel consciously as a route for transformation and personal discovery.
To have a soul-satisfying vacation is the secret reason we all ache to get away from it all, to experience the world as “something other than this” before we burn out. Your gaze is turned outward.
A change in environment offers an immediate release from external stressors, especially from a workplace, but stress travels with you, with heavy baggage that doesn’t fit in a carry-on. Here are my tips to have a soul-satisfying vacation and emerge feeling more inner and inter-connected:
Build a Better Routine
You may think the idea of getting away is not to have to adhere to your usual routine to make it through the day successfully. By all means, sleep a little later, ditch the heels or tie and relax, but realize that you still need a routine, even on vacation.
You’ll be torn between catching up on quality shut eye and experiencing all you can while the precious time allotted for your vacation ticks away. Your vacation will start to feel like a ticking time bomb, and the stress will not make your experience very soul-satisfying.
Build a better routine, and set one big goal with one smaller one. You’re not restructuring your entire routine. What do you need the most? Try to focus on getting a night of restful sleep, and use the tools you need, if they are ear plugs or a white noise machine. When you wake up, make your small goal starting the day with a glass of water before you have your cup of joe.
It could be as simple as having a consistent wake up and bed time, giving yourself an extra hour or so to sleep in on the weekends. This has been the biggest thing in my experience — knowing I won’t be able to take every tourist experience by storm without conquering my need to be ruled by the clock. Forget meetings, and focus on your time. Consistency is important for quality sleep, while your body repairs itself and gives you the energy you need for the next day.
Nourish your mind, body and soul. Start the day with a tall glass of water, with a little fruit mixed in if you like for taste and zesty fresh perspective to get up and at ‘em.
What aspect of self-care have you neglected? What will enrich your mind, body and soul? Is it a hot bath? Is it climbing a mountain or learning the history of a new culture? Don’t forget those “hobbies.” I used to love to create art as much as enjoy it on a gallery wall, but I only started back up once I sat at restaurants or coffee shops as a solo-traveler and sketched what I saw around me. When at home, this activity satisfies my soul on a daily basis, and instead of a clunky souvenir, I have my sketches.
Look for local food prepared from fresh ingredients and save money. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of Nowhere, USA or somewhere exotic, every area has a delicious, nutritious go-to dish that everyone grew up on, like the fried-green tomatoes of the south. Tomato is a fruit, right? Take in the local flavor, and when you need a snack, make your own tasty trail mix with heart healthy dark chocolate and delicious nuts.
Get off the Beaten Path
Visit a tourist trap or two. I waited what felt like hours to explore the visitor trails of the Louvre in Paris. As an art lover from a young age, it was a dream, and while I did explore the fares of street vendors and small shops, I wished that I had taken the time to wander more, to put one foot in front of the other at a slower pace.
So, practice your language and interpersonal skills: ask a local for a recommendation. Where should I eat? What would you tell a new resident to check out? These questions are priceless for the traveler seeking a soul-satisfying vacation. Get off the beaten path long enough to find your own feet.
I know it sounds ridiculous and like something your mom drilled into your head, but it’s important to have a good routine when traveling, to nourish your mind, body and soul. Allow yourself to get off the beaten path.
It’s possible to see it all when slowing down. You notice more details, taking in the fresh air, flavors and experiences around you. Don’t vacay to get away. Travel to satisfy and nourish your soul.