Coming from a person with a severe case of FOMO.
I’m the kind of person who usually can’t just do nothing when I’m on vacation. Somehow I always feel like I’ve wasted a day, a day of potentially exciting experiences, if I don’t do at least something meaningful – even if that’s just going for a walk. I need to experience the place I traveled to, see the world and the life going on around me.
I’m used to getting up early for work and putting a lot of energy into my days, so that energy needs to go somewhere when I’m on vacation – and it just makes me happy when I can put it into something different, something creative, something that I do solely for myself and my personal enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy rainy days with Netflix and pizza in bed. I just feel like when I finally have a whole day to use for something other than work, I want to get out there. Especially when there’s lots to see!
Nonetheless, I can’t deny that it does serve me (and my body!) well when I just do a little less and get a little more sleep once in a while. Sometimes, we just need to recharge and save some energy. So if you’re like me and always feel like you need to “do something”, my personal strategy to finally get myself to “just chill” might be something for you, too.
1.) PICK A DESTINATION WITH NOT THAT MUCH TO DO
Obviously there’s no point in, say, traveling to Paris and then not exploring the city. So if you’re in for relaxing and unwinding, pick a place that’s beautiful and ideally in the middle of nowhere. Good options are always the mountains (the Alps or the Rockies, for instance), a lakeside hut (such as in Canada), a cottage near the ocean (at the Baltic sea or on a small Greek island maybe?), or somewhere in a desert (think Oman or Utah). Personally, I think the best part is when you can drive there and don’t have to take a flight. This means no restrictions on luggage, so you can bring whatever things you need to feel home. For me, that’s my dog, my yoga mat and some kitchen devices (especially spices) to do some proper cooking. Also, a great book and my favorite tea must come with me.
2.) RENT THE PLACE
That being said, I think the best option if you truly want to relax is to rent a whole place as opposed to just getting a hotel room. While enjoying the full service package is nice, I prefer not seeing too many strangers when I want to chill, and that includes service staff. These days, there’s lots of beautiful houses / chalets / villas for rent that are fully equipped and provide services such as laundry and daily cleaning, fresh bread delivery, and even massages or catering, upon request. The good thing is that you are not tied to restaurant times and other opening hours, nor will you be disturbed by housekeeping. You can just feel at home.
3.) EASE INTO CHILL MODE – SLOWLY
Now what really doesn’t work for me is to go from my usual energy level to zero from one day to the other. So what I like to do is to get the exploring out of my system during the first 1-2 days. I check out the nearby city/village, do some grocery shopping, unpack and settle in, shoot some pictures, do whatever sightseeing there is to do. After I’ve seen it, there’s less fear of missing out on something interesting, and I can wind down.
4.) STRUCTURE YOUR DAY
With all of the above, I’m still not really the person to do nothing all day. So what helps me is to get going and do something after breakfast, like take a stroll in town or do a hike or some yoga, so that afterwards, you feel like you’ve done (“achieved”) something and you can relax with a “good conscience”. I know this sounds terrible writing it down, and I’m definitely not saying that you should feel bad about not doing anything the whole day, I’m just saying if you’re like me, this might help you truly chill out in the afternoon. Vice versa, if I have something scheduled for the afternoon, I’ll feel better about sleeping in and doing nothing in the morning. Just stick to the rule: one activity per day, not five.
5.) BRING SOME PRETTY LOUNGE WEAR
My favorite part about renting a whole house is staying in at night. I love dressing up and going out for dinners, but that also means less sleep and more time wasted on getting ready. Instead, I can read my book until late afternoon and eat whenever I feel like it, not according to the reservation made. Also, the wine comes to me for once… Still, I don’t like to look like a complete slob, so bringing some cute but very comfy clothes is my best bet. During our last hideaway vacation in the Austrian alps, I wore these velvet slippers every night. Usually with a pair of black opaque stockings and a loose-fit dress. Alternatively, some culottes (real comfy) and a cute sweater work too! If you’re feeling fancy, you can always accessorize with some bold jewelry.
Following my own advice during our recent Christmas family vacation in the Austrian alps, I was able to really relax. We rented the cutest little chalet (our home away from home) in the mountains with a little sauna hut and hottub in the snow, and there wasn’t much else to do but go for walks and hikes, sledding, and staying in. There was no interesting town nearby, not many restaurants, no shopping, no great skiing resort this time. We ended up doing lots of hiking (had Cookie with us and she loved it), as well as cooking, reading, planning our honeymoon…it was so nice to finally not feel the need to get out there and visit this or that. At the end of the week, I was in total chill mode – finally!
See some pictures of our trip below (mostly taken on our hikes in winter wonderland – no picture-taking allowed during chill time or it wouldn’t be proper chilling, would it?).
Now tell me, what has been your most relaxing vacation yet?