The Working Girl’s Beach Vacation Survival Guide, Part 1
This is part one of a two part series about the how the average busy career-gal can navigate her way through the beach vacation experience.
You’d think that planning the trip would be the hard part. But I would argue that it’s the easiest. Besides, there’s already a plethora of travel tips out there detailing whether you should roll or fold your clothes, so I’m going to get right down to what I consider the important part.
The vacation itself.
Some people naturally already know how to flip the switch to vacation mode, and I applaud those people and kindly invite them to exit to this article. Because some of us – many of us – are so stressed out and wound up by the time we get off the plane to our tropical destination, we’ve forgotten how to actually chill out and enjoy ourselves.
Since entering the full-time office life a decade ago, I have been lucky enough to take a winter getaway to the Caribbean three times, the most recent of which was at the beginning of February to Turks & Caicos Islands. And man, I had the time of my life! In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been that happy.
Although I’d enjoyed the two vacations prior to that, they didn’t leave me as rejuvenated and blissed-out as this one did.
All three trips were beautiful destinations with great accommodations. So why did I enjoy this most recent one the most?
I think I’ve gotten better at vacationing.
That is, to totally unplug from the daily grind and just allow myself to actually relax and have fun. So now that I’ve deigned myself to be the mighty wise-woman on the mountain when it comes to vacationing, I’ve put together a few Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind for the next time you get on a plane to head for your own island paradise.
Don’t over-schedule yourself
I think for many of us, when we visit a new place, we desperately want to make the most of it and see and do everything that’s billed as a tourist attraction. Trying to “do it all” can overburden your schedule, and you might end out more stressed out and exhausted than before you arrived, hence the cringe-worthy adage, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”
Take a look at all the attractions and be honest about which ones you should probably take a pass on. Do you really need to go visit the Island’s largest Conch Farm? Probably not. I mean, you if you’ve seen one Conch, you’ve seen ’em all, right?
Or maybe you’re really into Conch farms, in which case this isn’t a great example.
The point is, pick and choose just a few “sightseeing” activities and leave the rest open for whatever you feel like at that moment – which might be absolutely nothing. And when you’re on vacation, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing absolutely nothing!
Further to my last point, if you’re travelling to the Caribbean, chances are the main reasons are to enjoy the warm weather and get some much needed R&R, right? So slather on the sunscreen (because sunburns are not relaxing) and park yourself on the beach.
Or take a nap.
Or go to the spa.
Or read a book.
Heck, read two books.
Don’t count calories. Like, at all.
I get it… If you’re forced to be sedentary a lot – like when you have a full-time desk job – it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on what and how much is going down the hatch. I also get that you might be the kind of person where once you’re “on the wagon” you’re terrified of falling off.
I too thrive on routine, and if said routine gets derailed, it can be tricky to get back into it. But part of the vacation experience is to enjoy the good food. So give yourself a break for these few odd days and eat what you like without feeling guilty or worrying about what it’s doing to your waistline. Because even if it takes you a week or two after your vacation to get back into a balanced routine, it’s not the end of the world!
I ate a generous helping of pastries every day while in Turks & Caicos, and I don’t regret a single flaky morsel.
Do take it easy on the Mojitos
Try as I might, I have never been able to replicate a Mojito as good as the ones they make in the Caribbean. It is my beach drink of choice, and they are so tasty it’s easy to forget they can have quite an effect on the ol’ equilibrium.
Alcohol can also cause dehydration, which is not ideal in any situation, especially so when you’re on a hot island. Whatever your alcoholic beverage of choice, be mindful to pace yourself and drink lots of H2O in between drinks. Don’t waste a precious vacation day on a beautiful island cowering in a darkened room under a blanket, gripping your head in agony and swearing off Pina Coladas forever.
DON’T check in with work.
Don’t even bring your work phone with you. This seems like a no-brainer, but sadly for many of us, it’s not. I know I’m not the only one out there who still somehow manages to feel the pull of responsibility when you’re supposed to be relaxing. I’m ashamed to admit that on past vacations I have succumbed once or twice to the temptation of checking my emails, and I’m always 100% sorry I did. Because guess what? If things are going wrong at work there’s probably not much you can do about it while 2500 km away from home. So all you’re going accomplish is unnecessarily immerse yourself in a stressful situation that you aren’t even going to be a part of resolving.
In short, get over yourself. You’re gone for 1 week, maybe 2 weeks. In all likelihood, the company was humming along just fine for a long time before you started working there, and they’ll get by without you again for the 5-10 days that you’re away on vacation.
Do meditate, even just a little
It’s all too true that time flies when you’re having fun. It flies, really, really fast. So it’s worth taking a minute or two – each day if you can – to just breathe and pay attention to everything that’s happening in that moment. Take in the sound of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the way the leaves on the palm trees are rustling in the breeze. You get the idea. I know it sounds super corny but you’ll thank yourself later for being present in your vacation and creating a stronger memory of it.
Do reap the benefits
It can be hard for some of us to just forget about all our responsibilities back home, even just for a while. But if you’re fortunate enough to spend a relaxing week on a hot beach somewhere, do your body and mind a favour and really soak it in. It’s why you’re there!
With any luck, you’ll come back feeling rejuvenated and stress-free. Warning: some side-effects to achieving vacay nirvana may result in increased creativity, better mental health, and lingering feelings of inspiration and motivation.
What’s your favourite way to make the most of a Caribbean vacation? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
The next trick is holding on to all the benefits of your vacation when you return to work. Stay tuned on part two of my vacation survival guide series.