How to get the most out of your vacation

One of the many waterfalls in Glide, OR

I just returned from a week-long vacation with the family in Glide, Oregon. Here are a couple of things I learned from my vacation that could help you get the most from your vacation.

1. Turn off your email.
This is number one for a reason. In reality, you should do turn off your email more often. The funniest thing will happen when you turn off your email – you’ll realize that you check it way too much anyway. Instead of checking your phone for the latest email (and let’s face it – 99 percent of email isn’t important) try asking someone in your family a question or remembering a funny story.

If you are super worried about it – simply put your cell phone number on the auto-reply. If someone really needs something, they can call or text. Just make sure that you have made a detailed list of what needs to happen and any potential gotcha’s before you leave.

2. Go to a place with little cell service.
This goes very heavily with number one. I think it’s OK to check Facebook and Twitter on vacation, especially casually. Post a couple of pictures, let everyone experience parts of the awesome vacation that you’re having.

Having little cell service gives you a safety net to get an occasional phone call if it’s an emergency but it also forces you to not rely on your phone as a sense of entertainment.

3. Enjoy nature.
During my trip, one of the highlights was being able to kayak down the North Umpqua River. I was with my girlfriend, Jessica and the rest of my family. Without any other distractions – no phone (I didn’t trust the dry box), no driving, no restaurant – it was amazing how easy it was to relax. There was literally nothing that could distract me.

We got to see about 40 vultures flying above us (hopefully to eat a dead fish on the shore – not seeing two city folk in a kayak not knowing what they are doing), several deer, ducks and baby geese.

Bandon, Oregon – Jessica and Me

I also go the chance to just sit on a piece of driftwood with Jessica on the Oregon Beach. Nothing else going on. Just the (semi) warm Oregon sun setting over the beach. We watched the waves come in and just talked. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about – but there was still something magical about it.

4. Visit a winery.
I’ll admit – I got in a bit of a grumpy mood the first part of the trip. I’m not one for hiking (unless it’s something epic like Half Dome in Yosemite) or driving (I can do that anytime on any DFW freeway). We did a lot of that the first couple of days.

A bit frustrated and a bit as a joke, I suggested we go to a winery the next day. We did, and it was one of the best part of the trip. Not just because of the wine, but because of the people. Have you ever talked to a winemaker? They are some of the most interesting people you will ever meet.

Hillcrest Winery

We had the chance to go to Hillcrest Winery and Girardet Winery. The Hillcrest Winery is completely artesian – the only employees are family and you can’t buy it in stores. The owner poured so much passion into his wine – the flavor and experience lived up to his passion.

The other winemaker has lived all around the US Virgin Islands and loved to dive. We got to share stories of our favorite dive spots and beaches.

Just be friendly to these folks and you hear stories that aren’t published in any book (or blog) anywhere.

5. Be spontaneous.
After the wine tasting, we had nothing planned. My mom said, “Hey, want to go to the beach?” We had nothing else to do (and were up for anything after two wineries), so we said yes. It was great decision.

6. Find the best thing in the city you’re in a do that.
I don’t care if you are in Bandon or Berlin, find the best thing in the city and do that. In Bandon, Oregon  we looked on Yelp for a place with fresh fish. We narrowed it down to two – we visited one and realized all the seafood was from the east coast. So, we put the rule above into practice and decided to call an audible, The Bandon Fish Market. Once we walked in, we knew we made the right choice – a small joint with only a couple of tables and fresh fish in the case in front. Their specialty was fresh cod fish and chips (caught that morning, of course). We ordered a round and it was the best thing we ate on vacation and some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever had.

7. Laugh a lot.
Life is too short to not laugh. I practice this every day, but I think it’s especially important on vacation.

8. Read something interesting.
I started reading a couple of things on vacation – Drive: What Motivates People and Imagine: How Creativity Works. Both are great (so far,I haven’t finished them yet).

Reading something interesting (and more long form) outside of the work environment forces you to think of things differently. You aren’t forced to think of the literature as work-related. You can let your mind wander. According to Imagine, letting your mind wander is critical for creativity.

Reading something interesting, at least for me, motivates me to get back to work and put into practice some the new stuff you’ve learned. It shows you what you are doing right and how you can improve on other things. It also give you more time to think “what if…”


What helps you get the most out of your vacation?

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