Image of a woman lounging in a beach chair reading a book. Clearly, she knows how to get the most out of your vacation.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Vacation Time

GIF of Paul Campbell telling Ashley Williams that it sounds like she needs a vacation. Similar to how you might feel when they don't know how to get the most out of your vacation.

Tips on How to Rest and Recharge

Did you know that around 46% of American workers don’t use all their vacation time? Well, when was the last time YOU took time off? No, I don’t mean taking a half day for a doctor’s appointment, I mean REALLY taking time off. The majority of you just had to shrug and admit I’m right. But, let’s change that. Let’s take a look at how to get the most out of your vacation time and actually rest and recharge before you go back to work.

Plan Ahead

From getting your time off approved, to picking the best place to go, giving yourself time to plan ahead will always be beneficial. First, pick where you want to go. Want to go tropical? Or maybe a winter wonderland for a Christmas vacation. Remember, traveling during the off-season can save you time and money.

Last minute-travel can cost you

Do some research about what the place is known for compared to what you’re in to. If you’re a foodie, check out the restaurant scene. Love a good museum? See if there are any around (and how much they cost). Allow yourself to have something to look forward to and revel in the anticipation. It can help get through the daily grind knowing you have an amazing trip coming up.

GIF of JT Barnett saying goodbye and hanging up on someone. A master of how to get the most out of your vacation time through disconnecting from work.

Disconnect From Work

In today’s fast-paced world, burn-out rates have been on the rise, reminding us of the critical need to hit the pause button. Disconnecting from work isn’t just a luxury; it’s a vital act of self-care and preservation. Taking time to unplug and unwind isn’t about slacking off; it’s about recharging your mental batteries. By stepping away from the demands of work, you’re not only nurturing your well-being but also fostering creativity, boosting productivity, and ensuring you return with renewed energy and focus.

Remind yourself that vacation is good for you and good for your work

When it comes to how to get the most out of your vacation time, it doesn’t get more impactful than this. It’s not truly time off if you’re constantly checking your email, taking business calls, or reviewing work documents.

Setting boundaries with work

Setting boundaries is an act of self-respect, signaling your needs and limits to others. These boundaries act as a safeguard. Taking vacation time serves as a crucial component. It’s your designated period to detach from work, rejuvenate, and focus on personal well-being.

Remember, your mental health is as essential as your dedication to work. So, embrace that digital detox and carve out moments for yourself—your mind and body will thank you for it!

I mean, can you truly say you enjoyed the sunset or a delicious dinner if you had your phone in your hand?

Be In The Moment

Speaking of disconnecting from work, just disconnect from everything else too. If it’s a family vacation, kick it with your kids. See who they are as people before they’re scrambling to move away from you. If it’s more of a romantic thing with your and your partner, really check in with them and see how life is going. Doing a solo vacation? Really immerse yourself in the peace that can be found in not having to answer to anyone but you.

Here are three simple steps for being present in the moment and fully enjoying your vacation:

  1. Disconnect to Reconnect: Step away from screens and notifications. Embrace the beauty of the present by immersing yourself in your surroundings. Take a stroll, feel the sun on your skin, or savor the flavors of local cuisine without distractions.
  2. Engage Your Senses: Tune into your senses to soak up every moment. Listen to the sounds of nature or the bustling streets, breathe in the fresh air, relish the tastes of new dishes, and take in the vibrant colors around you.
  3. Practice Mindful Moments: Pause and appreciate the small joys. Whether it’s watching a sunset, feeling the sand between your toes, or relishing a laugh with loved ones, savor these moments fully—mindful of the present and grateful for the experience.

By disconnecting, engaging your senses, and practicing mindfulness, you’ll enrich your vacation experience, creating lasting memories and embracing the magic of the moment. This is your chance to tap in to those parts of life that get buried in the everyday struggle. Enjoy every meal, every sight, every sound, just enjoy it all.

Try New Things

How can you fill a vacation with nothing but things you love while also finding time to try new things? Well, look at it like this; you’ve likely already tried something new by going to where ever you’re going, right? Keep that momentum going! You’re in a new place, try some new food. Love burgers? Get one from a local specialty shop that you’ve never tried before. Enjoy hiking? Well, you’ve never seen these trails! Even something as small as having a nice conversation with someone new can help you get out of your comfort zone, learn new things, and create lasting memories.

Experiences > Things

Retail therapy is 100% a thing, but consider this; you spent enough going on vacation already. Once you’re there, it’s time to create those stories you’ll be telling friends and family for years. Just buying things won’t give you the same feeling. Stay focused on enjoying everything around you instead of trying to check off boxes from lists you’ve seen online.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Vacation Time: Bonus Round

  • Use those long weekends: Feel like you don’t have enough PTO? Line your days off with holidays like Veterans Day or the 4th of July. It’s a good way to enjoy a quick getaway.
  • Floating holidays: Check with your HR department and see if you have floating holidays. These are holidays that you can use whenever you’d like throughout the year. Putting one or two of these together with your PTO can give you a good stretch of time to take a trip.
  • Trip local: You don’t always have to go far to have fun. Check for attractions within 2 to 3 hours near your home (resorts, national parks, beaches, etc.). Less travel time means more time spent with your feet up.
  • Be real with yourself: Don’t try to do a thousand things in 3 days. Give yourself a setting and a couple highlights you’d like to hit and let the good times roll. Remember, you’re not vacationing for structure, you’re doing it to relax and recharge.

The Wrap Up

So, how do you get the most out of your vacation? You take the time to plan it out, enjoy waiting for the day, unplug, relish every moment, and immerse yourself in experiences over things. Now that you have the game plan, you know not to throw your PTO away. You work hard and deserve the opportunity to breathe deep and relax. Take the time to do so, free from distraction, and you’ll thank yourself for it every day.

Headshot picture of the writer of this article, Kenneth Medford III, with a muted black and white filter.
Kenneth Medford III

Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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