Why I Always Work on Vacation

A mound of paperwork masters a balancing act on your desk at the office.  Sticky notes with tasks you’ve been avoiding glare at you.  And you didn’t know it was possible to receive a number of emails this outrageous on a weekend.  With the stress of work, family, and day-to-day life, we instantly imagine ourselves relaxing on the beach or in the mountains.  Somewhere far, far away as long as it’s not here.  Vacation equates to escape, which isn’t necessarily wrong.  But if getting away is all about checking out mentally, we pay a high price for these vacations; we could achieve this same result of checking out by simply staring at a wall—for free.  But recently I’ve decided to not take a break on vacation anymore.Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

I know you’re rolling your eyes and starting to dial 9-1-1 for my well-being, but here’s what I mean.  I believe travel is to learn and explore other parts of the country or even the world, and if all we’re doing is sleeping in, watching movies we’ve already seen in our condos, and eating at chain restaurants we have at home, we are completely wasting our hundreds of dollars (maybe even thousands!) we’ve invested in this vacation.  Working on vacation doesn’t mean conference calls and constant emailing between you and your boss; it means choosing to be present and attentive during your trip to gain the best experience.

I’ve found I enjoyed trips more when I’ve decided to “work” during them, especially my recent trip to Walt Disney World.  During one of my days at Disney this spring, our group left the house around 8:30, and I didn’t get to bed till 1 a.m.  Even though it’d been a 15-hour day at Magic Kingdom, I stayed up to write over 10 pages about my day.  My long journal entry included our giggles at my brother’s wild spinning on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the magical moment of putting on my Minnie Mouse ears with my best friend off of Main Street, and the full-on sprint to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to beat the line.  You may think you’ll remember your entire day and even your complete vacation months down the line, but you’d be surprised at how many details you forget.epcot-disney-world-wdw-orlando-florida-minnie-mouse

And there’s even research that reveals the power of travel.  I stumbled across an article by Andrea Bartz called “How Instagram Ruined My Vacation” in the March 2016 Marie Claire issue.  This article cited research from Cornell University that found people are happier when they are thinking about something they’ve experienced instead of thinking about new items.  Yes, that statement necklace is cute and that lamp was a great addition to your living room, but this study reveals material consumerism isn’t the answer.  If experiences have such a great importance in our minds, I believe working on vacation is vital to maximizing this experience.  However, the author notes it doesn’t become fulfilling when you sit on Instagram comparing your life to others.  Travel to learn, to develop, and to improve you, not to show off your status or wallet.  And I’m by no means perfect when it comes to not comparing, but turning off your phone can provide so much freedom and help you focus on another kind of work during your vacation.

Working during vacation doesn’t have to be as difficult as those seemingly simple DIY pins on Pinterest, but with these tips, you can easily maximize the enjoyment and experience of your next trip.

1. Keep a travel journal.  Even if you don’t love writing, writing down your scattered thoughts throughout the day can help your preserve memories and share helpful tips with friends and family later down the road.  And it doesn’t have to be fancy.  My journal is literally a lined spiral notebook from a department store with my messy handwriting, crossed-out phrases, and squeezed-in words.  Most importantly, a travel journal is not supposed to be a grocery list; don’t just list: swimming, burgers for lunch, some random museum.  Include your thoughts, jokes, silly memories, and even wrong turns.  I also like to include my step count (which can easily be found on your iPhone Health app), and at the end of my trip, I like recapping the top three eats, sights, experiences, activities, moments, etc.

top 10 destin 1

2. Take pictures (and not just selfies).  Yes, your face is straight up fabulous, but get some nice snapshots of the scenery, your food, and the places you visit.  Even though lugging around my Nikon D3200 (her name is Cammie!) isn’t always convenient, I’m so grateful that I took the time and energy to take some high-quality photos in my recent trip to Los Angeles this summer.  I remember waiting for the freezing waves to caress my toes at Laguna Beach.  The view actually took my breath away with the crystal blue ocean and the dark rocky cliffs.  This feeling doesn’t come often, but taking photos help you capture it in a 4×6 rectangle to keep for years.Treasure Island Laguna Beach Los Angeles

3. Share it!  When you find or experience something you really enjoy, of course, you’d want to tell your friends about it.  Write a blog post or post to Facebook with some of your top tips.  Sometimes you may find someone who’s already been there, and you can compare notes and experiences.  Sharing your experience encourages you to look back, summarize, and decipher the best tips and activities.  Pushing yourself to analyze your trip can help you realize what you learned and what you enjoy most in life.sacre-coeur-basilica-montmartre-paris-france

Yes, vacation is the perfect time for a break from your typical routine and workload, but consider not totally checking out this next trip so you can fully absorb the culture and experience of your upcoming destination.



{How do you fully engage in the adventures you’re embarking on during vacation?}

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