I’m about to get up close and personal with one of the most precious commodities of the present day.
You don’t have enough of it. It runs away from you. You feel like you waste it. It can literally run your life and control your actions.
And when it comes to vacations, we want to make sure that we make the most of each and every precious vacation day because we only get a limited number of vacation days every year.
But what does it mean to make the most of your vacation time? Well, it depends on who you’re talking to. You might feel like you make the most of your vacation time by doing and seeing as much as possible, and if you don’t get to do everything on your list, you may feel disappointed in your vacation and feel as if you didn’t make the most of it.
On the other hand, you may feel like you make the most of your vacation time by taking each day as it comes, and if you don’t feel the freedom of not following a set schedule or plans, you may feel disappointed in your vacation and feel like you wasted your vacation time.
I think it’s fascinating how people perceive time so differently. I am especially intrigued by how different personalities choose to spend their leisure time. I’ve learned that how you tend to spend your weekends (or really any time away from work) is typically how you prefer to spend your vacations.
So ask yourself: how do you tend to spend your weekends?
Do you plan as many activities as possible with friends and family, enjoy a hobby or two, and get some chores done? Or do you look forward to having zero plans, sleeping in, and being able to take the day as it comes? Or are you somewhere in between?
Plan a Vacation Based on How You Want to Feel
Regardless of how you choose to spend your weekend time, you have some expectations about your weekend, and these expectations ultimately tie back to feelings. You expect to feel a certain way during your weekend, and if you don’t feel that way, you are disappointed or feel like you wasted your weekend time. Vacations are the same way. You go on vacation expecting to feel one way, and if you don’t feel that way, you can feel disappointed and like you aren’t making the most of it.
The biggest barrier to making the most of our weekend or vacation time is in fact, time. Time is the biggest commodity that some of us have because it’s limited. You have a limited number of vacation days every year. Your vacation is only 7 days long. You only have 2 weekend days. Time is literally the thing that’s driving the actions that we’re taking during our leisure time and we’re taking these actions to cultivate those feelings that we want.
Vacations have so many expectations around them. And fulfilling these expectations can be hard since you are constrained to a limited amount of time! If you want to feel accomplished and relaxed this weekend, you might make a list of things you want to get done and feel motivated to accomplish a lot with the reward of relaxation. If you find yourself on Sunday evening having not completed your list and having spent zero time relaxing, you’re going to feel disappointed on Monday morning that you didn’t get to accomplish everything on your list or relax.
If we flip that scenario around and instead of making a plan or a long list of to-dos, you instead make zero plans and take the day as it comes, you may do a little of this and a little of that, but you are most likely going to find yourself on Sunday evening wondering where the weekend went, and questioning if you actually accomplished anything.
I used to plan jam-packed weekends and non-stop vacations with a long list of activities; however, I’ve learned through experience that planning a lot of activities is not a foolproof way for making the most of your vacation time. Having a non-stop vacation will likely exhaust me, or time may get in the way of making all of those planned activities happen, leaving me feeling disappointed.
The moral of the story is this: planning too much or too little of your vacation or leisure time is not the answer to making the most of your vacation time. The secret sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.
My #1 Secret For Making the Most of Your Vacation Time
Time can literally control your vacation – if you don’t control it. You have to take charge to make sure that your vacation or weekend is going to make you feel the way you want to feel, and avoid any potential disappointment. The only way to do this is by taking a hold of time and setting a realistic expectation, so here’s my #1 secret that I use for making the most of my vacation (and weekend) time.
I Plan Downtime.
It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, since downtime is supposed to be more go-with-the-flow and not structured or planned out, but this method works so well and I love it! By scheduling in downtime into your vacation or weekend, you’re making sure that you aren’t planning too much or too little of your vacation and giving you the chance to really pause and enjoy the moment.
How this looks for me is that on vacation, I plan 1-2 activities or excursions per day and then have downtime in the afternoon to meander around the city, enjoy a long meal or afternoon drinks, and relaxation. I’ve seen some vacation itineraries out there that flat out don’t leave time for breathing, much less eating, taking some photos, or simply sitting and enjoying the view. Even if you prefer to travel this way, it’s important to understand how you want to feel on your vacation before committing to jam-packed vacation plans.