Starling Travel

May 8, 2007

Five Steps to a Stress-Free Vacation

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Travel can be stressfulSo many times when we travel, I have a list of activities that we are going to do each day. We rush from tourist attraction to historical site to museum in a frenzy and when we get home, we’re more tired than when we left. How about a vacation that is the opposite of that? How about actually relaxing on my vacation? Hey, that’s an innovative idea. Here’s how to do it.

1. Choose A Vacation Spot To Foster Relaxation

For a relaxing vacation, I prefer to visit small towns where there aren’t a lot of tourist attractions that appeal to me. I like ski towns in the summer and beach towns in the winter. These sorts of touristy areas have the facilities to take care of me, but I’m visiting them in the off-season, so they are less expensive and the staff is much more relaxed. Any touristy area in the off-season is perfect for relaxation. I get pretty stressed out by crowds, so I run away to the places that are used to tourist crowds, but visit them when they are slow.

2. Don’t Plan More Than One Day

Don't Forget The AlamoIf you take the time to go somewhere different, you HAVE to see the most important sites. If you tell someone that you went to San Antonio and you didn’t even bother to see The Alamo, they’re going to think you’re a dolt. Find out the most important sites for the area you’re visiting and choose a few to visit on one day.

If you only get one day to see all the sites, you’ll end up choosing the most important ones. You’ll have one busy day, but you won’t feel cheated for visiting Salt Lake City without seeing the Mormon Temple.

3. Keep Your Schedule Free For The Rest Of The Days

It’s going to be hard because once you check into you’re hotel, you’re going to see a rack of brochures enticing you to a whole bunch of fun places to go that you didn’t even know about before you got there. Squeeze those new activities into your one planned day if you can, but protect your unplanned days because they are important.

A relaxing vacation is about giving yourself time to RELAX, not about collecting all of the tourist attractions on the list while you’re there.

4. Give Yourself Permission To Do Nothing

Start a travel journalOn your unplanned days, give yourself permission to do nothing. I know you’re going to feel the urge to slip in some more sightseeing while you’re there. Resist it. Spend an entire day just hanging around the hotel, either in your room, at the pool, in the lobby or outside on the grounds. Read that book that you bought in the airport gift shop. Start a travel journal and write about your one exciting day in the area. Sleep in! It’s amazing how enjoyable a couple hours of sleep can make your trip.

5. Do Nothing For The Rest Of Your Trip

You don’t have to hide in your hotel to do nothing. After your first day, just relaxing in the hotel, try going somewhere comfortable in the town, whether it’s the library, a local park, or the beach. Spend an entire day doing nothing outside of the hotel. Let yourself walk around and explore. Give yourself permission to just stare at the strange birds. You don’t have those kind of birds at home, do you? It’s alright to spend an afternoon just doing nothing. It’s difficult, but you are there to relax. Let yourself relax!

You might notice that old desires are popping back up. Maybe you used to like to draw, well let yourself draw. Maybe you used to like to write short stories. Go get yourself a notebook and start writing. Maybe you used to like to take photographs. Pull out that camera and take some photos of something besides the kids for once. Whatever your inner voice is urging you to do, take it up. Think of it as a vacation activity. You don’t have to be a great artist, writer or photographer. You just have to have fun.

Depending on how long your vacation is, you might finally hit the relaxation point during your trip. If that’s the case, then you can consciously decide if there are any other sites you’d like to visit while you’re in town. Considering how stressed out I usually am, a few days isn’t really enough time for me to hit my total relaxation point. To totally relax, I need a week of doing nothing.

Next time the thought of going to Disneyland, New York, or our nation’s capital stresses you out, don’t do it. You don’t need to visit these very busy sites to have a fun and relaxing vacation. In fact, I’ve never been able to visit Disneyland without feeling exhausted afterward. Plan your next vacation for relaxation and you’ll find an entirely different experience waiting for you!


  1. Laura, this is wonderful advice. As a CEO coach, I see a lot of burned out execs — vacation time is precious and the urge to fit as much into it is strong! I’m going to share this with my type-A executive clients (and husband)! Bye, bye BlackBerry; hello un-planning!

    Comment by Deb Dib — May 13, 2007 @ 7:31 am

  2. So glad you are writing about such types of experiences as the “do nothing vacation”. My Company, Hot Springs by Invitation believes that most folks have to go back to work to recover from their busy vacations. That’s why we promote: Soak, eat, antique, nap, repeat. Relax, renew, rejuvinate; return to civilization. Want to find out more? 406-741-5277

    Comment by LoriAnne Hancock — January 2, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

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