I know what you’re going to tell me. “Michaela, isn’t vacation already SELF-CARE?” (And some of you: “Ugh, ‘self-care’, I hate that buzzword!”)

Yes, and I hear you, but anyone who has traveled anywhere – to Walt Disney World, or to a fishing village in South Korea, or Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving – will tell you that traveling itself is stressful. (And, I would argue, theme park vacations are definitely way more stressful than even the average vacation.) Yes, it’s worth it! If it weren’t, we wouldn’t do it! And it CAN create an excellent environment for recharging and renewal but not all vacations are really ABOUT that. Some vacations are for seeing things you’ve never seen before, riding your favorite thrill ride over and over again, or actively spending time with people you love, not just sitting around doing nothing on the beach.

But all vacations and trips take some intentionality to really get the most out of your time away.

Honestly, how many of you have come back from vacation feeling like you need another vacation?

That’s why I have a few recommendations and tools to use while traveling – good for Grandma’s house OR your around-the-world dream vacation!

1) Splurge for the Spa

If you are already splurging for that dream trip to Disney or all-inclusive resort, it can feel a bit EXTRA to spend more money on spa treatments – no matter how amazing that Tequila Sunrise Massage sounds. But not only is it often worth the extra price, you can sometimes find better deals. Some travel agents will help you find great packages with spa credits included, for example. Or ask them if they know if any (legit, not shady) off-site spa options that may be cheaper around your resort or hotel. Additionally, MANY resorts and hotels offer same-day discounts or special rates when you arrive. Ask them – they want to fill their booking calendar!

2) Use Your Phone….for Meditation

If I could recommend one single thing for everyone to do on every vacation, it would be to turn off their mobile phone or leave it at home. But I know that’s not possible for many these days (including myself, usually).  If you can’t do that, do try and limit your internet/phone time if you are on vacation. But my one personal exception? A meditation app.

There are lots of relaxation and meditation applications out there for iPhone and Android phones, but my personal favorites are Simple Habit and Headspace. Simple Habit is the one I have stuck with and use regularly – I love that there are easy, short (and long, if you wish) meditation exercises for bedtime, morning, even some specifically FOR travel and vacations! If you haven’t tried meditation before, it isn’t usually very “new-agey” *OM* weirdness (if you don’t like the one you find, find another one).  It’s mostly just getting some assistance in finding a quiet space to reboot your mind. So grab your phone and headphones, head out to your balcony, beach or quiet space, and set aside 5 minutes to prepare for your amazing day.

And then put your phone back in your drawer.

3) Journal Your Way

Journaling – people either love it or hate it. It conjures images of teen girls swooning over boy band members or writing about their bad hair days. (At least, it does to me. Those were my early journaling days.) But that’s not what it has to be.

If anything, travel gives you so much more to journal about and time to process than daily life does. And if you forgot to bring a fancy journal, I promise you can find a simple one in your hotel or the local market (or Grandma has one she’ll never use that you can have). It doesn’t have to be a big thing! Take a cup of coffee (or margarita, whatever), find your place and take just 5 or 10 minutes to write about whatever you want, whatever you are experiencing, and whatever you want to remember. You’ll thank me when you get home.

If you are interested in more guided journaling ideas, you can find some great ideas and prompts at JournalTherapy.com and JournalingSaves.com.

4) Move Gently with Yoga (Anywhere!)

If you had told me a year ago that I would come to love yoga, I wouldn’t have believed you. First of all, I am not a “group” workout person. I like to work out by myself, and my perception of yoga offerings never really allowed for that alone time. And I was always intimidated by the idea of everyone else already knowing what they were doing and dressed in super cute expensive workout wear with perfect hair and full makeup because that’s what yoga people do, right?

But a couple of rough weeks of headaches and stress and sleep issues recently led me to search for yoga options on YouTube out of desperation and a willingness to try just about anything. And I’m SO glad I did! There are a few different options out there, but my favorite is Yoga with Adriene. She never makes you feel dumb, lets you modify positions based on what you feel like (or are shaped like, or just prefer), and she basically wears normal, comfy clothes and often old t-shirts. Now, that’s my kind of yoga. I really like her 5-Minute Morning and 20-Minute Bedtime videos, but she also has some great options specifically for Travel Yoga – and her Dorm Room Yoga video is great for small spaces like your hotel room or cruise ship stateroom. She even has a video for one minute yoga on an airplane! (Protip: You may want to download a couple before you go, so you can view them without using internet if you don’t have free or available wifi where you may be.)

I also feel like maybe I could get a beer with her after yoga, which is important to me.

If group workouts are your thing, lots of resorts and cruise ships do offer some great group sessions, including morning and sometimes evening yoga right on the beach!

(But please don’t do yoga on some crazy cliff like in the photo above. That is terrifying. But it got your attention, didn’t it?)

5) Get Up Early

I know this one probably isn’t one you want to hear. This is your vacation! If ever there were a time to sleep in, it is on vacation, right? And yes, I totally get it. It am NOT a morning person, no matter how hard I try, and I my natural vacation MO is to stay up late, get up late, and do what I want.

But maybe just once or twice during your trip, make an effort to go to bed a little earlier (maybe get an awesome bath with a drink in hand in that sweet room jacuzzi and order some room service!), and get up a little earlier. Why? Because LOTS of people like to sleep in on their vacations, and you’ll probably have lots of sweet quiet time to yourself in the morning. Obviously, you may need to get up earlier in some locations than other (like Disney World, or if you are backpacking through a city) to really take advantage of this, but it’s worth it. As an additional bonus, if you need it: In crowded places, getting up early helps you beat the crowds at the tourist hot spots (and get shorter lines at theme parks). That’s definitely one way to reduce MY stress levels.

6) Drink Lots of Water

Do I sound like your mother? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong! This one is particularly important in those hot, tropical locations and SUPER important if you are taking advantage of that open bar or in-room drinks at your all-inclusive. Nobody likes a hangover on vacation, and to be honest that’s a waste of your hard-earned money because you’re losing a day or two to self-induced sickness. Beyond that, hydration is easy to forget about when you’re at the pool or the beach or even just busy seeing everything you can in a beautiful city. If you have a bottle of water with you at all times, you’re much more likely to remember to keep hydrated and take sips all day. You’ll feel refreshed and your skin will look amazing and you won’t be wallowing in shame and regret (probably)!

Of course you don’t have to do ALL of these but why wouldn’t you? It’s YOUR vacation! Make the most of it! This can be the first time you can return from your vacation and not feel like you need another one right away.

But hey, if you did want to book another right away…I won’t stop you. 😉


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