Friday, February 28, 2014

Definitive guide to a great vacation

Everyone dreams of a vacation. Don't we bring it up almost every week - the much needed break? It is funny how the idea of a vacation has crunched down to 2 weeks a year, 3 if you are lucky or getting married. Whatever happened to those long vacations we had during school? They were really times for breaks, a series of fun activities envisaged for the whole 2 months.

As I got back to work on a Monday morning, the only thing on my mind was a vacation, not a 5 day break, but a 6 months long vacation. Its a wishful affair, but hey, you never know when the Gods smile down upon you!

So here's a definitive guide to things that you must do if you get a 6-months holiday.

1. Travel

Not a quick, round-the-world-in-5-days kind of trip, but a leisurely 4-5 weeks spent in one or at the most two locations. Leisurely trips give you a glimpse of life that a tourist usually does not get. It gives you time to settle down to the place, savour its local life and get to meet and know people as one of their own. You have more time to explore the eating joints, hang out at the local watering-hole, revamp your wardrobe to the prevalent styles and meet a whole bunch of new neighbours. You are no longer the tourist that they make money from. You are more of a fellow human sharing their life.

2. Unwind and rejuvenate

From beaches to mountains, family gatherings to quiet walks, make these a part of your life for the next 2-3 months. It gives you time to break the monotony of worry. You will be surprised how few your problems are if you merely slacken the pace of your life. Go for long walks with your significant other. Spend time with your kids and parents. Meet friends, visit your old haunts. Just sit back and watch the sunset. Spend the day without a schedule, without timelines and deadlines.

3. Do a technology detox

This is perhaps the hardest to do. Whatsapp comes naturally to us, so does checking emails and sharing pics. It is hard to imagine a holiday or family get together without the customary uploading of pics and sharing of comments. I tried it for a week, or rather was forced to. A week of no calls from work, and from anyone else, no social media networking. The only person to talk to was the one present with you. It surprised me how much mindshare we give to our little hand-held devices inspite of sitting across with loved ones. So a tech detox is a must-have for vacation. Try reducing your exposure to technology and savour the little things that life brings. Spend time more creatively, with the nagging worries now quietened.

4. Serve

Help someone in need, go teach or volunteer for some charitable cause. There are so many people in need of help and we usually  have plenty to give. The very act of doing something without any benefits attached is a liberating feeling. It makes you feel noble and above the breed. You will start counting your blessings. In the process, you might discover what you are really good at, what you like to do or rather want to do, and what difference you can make to the world beyond.

5. Document

This is as important as the others if not more. Not all of us are good at writing, so we prefer the pictures. Write it down, if only for yourself. All that you did, all that you felt. If and when you go back to you work and your world as you knew it, there will be times when this document will remind you what your life is and what it is worth living for.

If you have done something great on your vacations, share your ideas in the comments.

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