Thursday, February 23, 2006


During a few moments of quiet reflection while out on vacation I began to wonder if there are answers to the questions we have been asking ourselves for the past few weeks:
How do you plan for a really good vacation?
How will you know if you had a good vacation?
Are there any consistent elements that are essential for satisfaction?

An Internet search for information about vacation planning, needs, strategy, psychology or implementation brings me to advertising, and more advertising with a lot of hype and very little substance.

After looking through dictionaries, encyclopedias, Wikipedia, Psychology Today and interviewing a host of patient friends and acquaintances I came up with some information if not a lot of insights:

  • Vacation is - A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee

  • Recreation is - Refreshment of one's mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates; play. Also therapeutic refreshment of one's body or mind. Recreation is often distinguished from leisure. Where leisure is, or ought to be, restful, recreation is refreshing and diverting

  • The act of recreating, or the state of being recreated; refreshment of the strength and spirits after toil; amusement; diversion; sport; pastime.

  • Leisure - can also be interpreted as a specific action, resulting in relaxation and rejuvenation of the individual.

  • Synonyms: breathing space, fiesta, furlough, gone fishing, holiday, intermission, layoff, leave, liberty, long weekend, recess, recreation, respite, rest, sabbatical, spell, time off

Psychology Today suggests “Americans are experiencing a vacation deficit disorder.” By: Hara Estroff Marano

“In a nine-year study, Brooks Gump, an associate professor of psychology at the State University of New York, Oswego, found that men who skipped vacation for five consecutive years were 30 percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week's annual leave. Even skipping one year's vacation was associated with an elevated risk of heart disease.”
“Researchers aren't sure why people who take more vacations are less likely to die of heart attacks, but they have three theories: the time with family and friends; the escape from everyday worries; and the simple anticipation of a few stress-free days.” Psychology Today, July-August, 2004 by Richard A. Lovett

The following is a compilation of the elements I collected in my mini survey
  • Adventure (but not too much)

  • Change of pace

  • Different

  • Good food

  • Inspiration

  • Natural beauty

  • Peace

  • Pretty

  • Quiet

  • Recreation

  • Refreshment

  • Rejuvenate

  • Relaxation

  • Renewal

  • Solitude

  • Something new

  • Time to think

  • “Being in some inspiring and peaceful place where I get relief from crowding and pressures and get inspiration and physical activity.”

What do you think are the elements of a good vacation?

Your most important carry-on item? The mind-set you bring to the trip.


Blogger Gwyn said...

Good vacation? No "have-to" agendas, activity in nature and the thrill of what might be next.

Hope yours goes well!

10:54 PM  
Blogger tess said...

This is a very interesting post. Especially the part about what happens when you don't take vacations. I'll have to think about that. As I mentioned on my recently, I don't really have "official" totally "off-time" vacations, both because of the nature of my one-woman business, the way I (mis)manage my time and some other reasons. I need to strive to create some totally free time of more than a day or two at once.

However, though my studies of voluntary simplicity, I really have tried to create what has been called more of a "seamless" life. I don't have a lot of financial reward from my business (could have more if I worked smarter and harder) but I have a lot of freedom and flexibility and therefore am able to integrate many of the things on your list into my daily life--solitude, time in nature, quite, time to think, good food, etc.

It is easy to get out of balance, though. This post is a good prod to help me make sure those elements are more consistent.

I do think that many vacations I hear about sound more exhausting than I would like. I am pretty introverted and just love time to lie around and read and be still or take a long walk. No "have-to" items on the agenda. Amen!

4:35 PM  
Blogger HoBess said...

So glad to see you! I love the most important carry-on item ... and it can't be x-rayed or searched. Hooray!

The best element of a good vacation is discovery. This isn't limited to my own discovery, it can also be sharing in the discovery of another ... for instance taking our kids to downtown Chicago, which we know and love but which is all new to them.

12:06 PM  

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