We Need Vacation
The daily stress of modern life is one that we can never seem to get away from. School, work, parenting, outbreaks of disease, paying bills, the list of sources of stress seems almost endless. This stress can accumulate, and lead to health problems such as heart disease, lowered immunity, increased risk of stroke, over-eating and diabetes, high blood pressure, and increased risk of depression and anxiety just to name a few.
In order to rid ourselves of daily stress, it’s important to practice daily techniques such as meditation, cognitive re-framing, physical exercise, and dieting. However, what happens when even those things are not enough to help get rid of stress? According to the American Institute of Stress, over 45% of Americans report that their main source of stress comes from work. This makes the workplace by far the most common source of stress in Americans.
Fortunately, many jobs now offer paid time off, vacation and sick days for workers in order to get away from work while still getting paid. Surprisingly, however, a study by the United States Travel Association found that 54% of all Americans did not take all of their vacation days for various reasons. This is a staggering amount, and if you find yourself in this group, be assured a vacation is not only necessary and fun but can also be paid for by your employer.
A Vacation is Anywhere
When it comes to planning vacations, many people think it must be stressful, or even impossible to plan without a travel agent. However, a competitive travel market and new programs such as Air BnB make it much easier to find affordable accommodations, affordable travel, and overall plan better for vacations.
If you’ve never taken a vacation or had a bad experience before, rest assured that a vacation does not have to involve overseas travel, expensive hotels and entire island getaways (although it’s not discouraged)! Vacations could also come in the form of mini-vacations, last a couple of days, be cheap and still give you the benefit of a full vacation. Even mini-vacations can still serve to give you the break you need from work, recharge your life batteries, and even gain new insight and experiences. Whether you’re planning a mini-vacation today or in the future, here are five tips to keep in your back pocket as a handy travel guide.
1. Go Cross-Country
Going cross country is the most underrated and under-appreciated form of vacation there is today. Because of movies showing children in the back of a station wagon asking “Are we there yet,” most people shudder at the thought of driving cross-country. However, the options for going cross-country in the U.S. include much more than driving. Today, traveling by train is a great way to sit back, relax, and take in the sights your country has to offer. Services such as Amtrak offer cross-country train rides along with pit-stops, luxury dining cars that offer full-service meals, and even sleeper cars that include beds and showers on board. With cross-country train travel, you get to reach your destination while experiencing not only major cities and pit stops but also the smaller towns and sights that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. The U.S. consists of mostly small farm fields and rural areas. In fact, according to statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau, urban areas make up only 3 percent of the entire land area of the country, while 97 percent of the country’s landmass is made up of rural areas. Expansive grasslands, wild horses, deer, pine forests and deserts all dot the American landscape and can be fully experienced in as little as 4 days cross-country on a train ride.
However, if you’re short on time, or simply don’t like the idea of sharing a train full of other passengers, renting a car and driving to another city is still a great way to get a mini-vacation in. It’s not hard to look up tourist destinations near your area, and places such as Hearst Castle in Northern California, The EMP in Seattle, The Getty Center in Los Angeles, and thousands of other options offer both a beautiful city and an entertainment destination. When planning to go cross-country, ensure that your destination is one that will inspire, is great for kids if you decide to take them along, and provides a day full of activities that strike your interest. For example, some destinations can belong to a niche of their own, such as the Mutter Museum that houses anatomical oddities, or the Winchester House in San Jose. Having a destination that will satisfy your unique interests will not only make the cross-country trip exciting but bearable and worthwhile.
2. Attend a Unique Event Near You
Whether it’s the Chicago River being dyed green, Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, or even a sporting event that involves your favorite team, there is always an event happening near you. With these events could come the surge of hotel prices, so it’s always best to plan to attend an event ahead of time. However, if you are crunched on time and want to take a mini-vacation as soon as possible, Air BnB and services like it are a good way to book a room without hurting your bank account.
With the recent rise of violence at public gatherings, a concern for some might be their safety at such big events. However, the National Sources of Law Enforcement showed that in 2012, there were over 780,000 police officers working in the United States. For these major events, there is not only police officers sent out for extra reinforcement, but also extra security and protocols to maximize safety for tourists.
In addition, attending an event for a mini-vacation can be a once in a lifetime experience. Though events happen every year, the crowds are different, the people you meet are from every walk of life, and overall the experience of an event will change with the times. Planning a vacation can be as complex, or simple, as deciding what day in history you want to be a part of.
3. Take a Helicopter Tour in your City
Nowadays, helicopter rides are available in every major city, and even for major tourist attractions such as the Grand Canyon, for lower and lower prices. Helicopter tours can range from $99, up to $500. The price is not bad for a unique, stunning view of your city. Some helicopter rides even include landings in luxurious places, such as Malibu and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Make no mistake, helicopter rides that are done through a reputable company and using the best pilots are completely safe, and don’t require passengers to have previous flight experience. Helicopters themselves were made with safety in mind. For example, the Hughes 500D made famous in the television series Magnum P.I. has originally developed about 50 years ago for military purposes. Helicopters have come a long way with technology, and now being able to see your city from a bird’s eye view can be done in style, luxury, and with safety in mind.
4. Plan a Trip to your Local Lake
For those of us that live inside the mainland United States, being able to experience the beach, sands, and cool water seems like only a luxury dream. However, more and more people are starting to experience the relaxation that comes with traveling and vacationing at their local lake. Lakeside resorts are a great option and provide the best views and accommodations possible. The most famous lakes that already have established tourist accommodations are Lake Tahoe in California, the Great Lakes in the mid-western United States, and lakes dotting Florida. However, virtually every state in the U.S. has either man-made, natural lakes, or reservoirs, and so even for those living inland, a trip to the water is not too far off.
If you prefer to do more outdoor activities while vacationing lakeside, fishing with a license, power-boating, and swimming are all great options. Power-boating, in particular, has the potential to mix both leisure and excitement and can be a great couples activity. Renting a powerboat could be an option for those who couldn’t otherwise store a powerboat. For those that have room to store a powerboat, the past-time activity is one that is filled with adrenaline, speed, and power, and could be an essential part of every vacation. In fact, sales of new powerboats were projected to have increased between six and seven percent over 2016, showing just how much people are beginning to enjoy powerboating.
5. Take Days Off to go Camping
Similar to vacationing lakeside, camping involves being intimate with nature, experiencing the best of your backyard, and learning how to let go of urban stress. With camping comes a newfound form of respect, admiration, and closeness with nature that could otherwise have remained ignored with other forms of vacationing. Camping can be done almost anywhere, and there is a multitude of tools, equipment, and stores like REI and Big5 Sporting Goods designed with campers in mind. There is also a wide array of websites, blogs, Youtube Channels, and forums that are specifically geared towards new campers. These websites make camping less intimidating and can keep you informed on local conditions.
Camping is one of those activities that, though only done for a matter of days, has the ability to quickly recharge your spirits and have positive effects on mental health. More and more research is showing that camping is connected to positive effects on memory, decreased levels of anxiety, and decreased levels of depression. In addition, for children that go camping, a getaway can help improve their cognitive functioning. Finally, camping has been shown to have a restorative effect that brings people back from the busy urban environment, and into the calm hands of nature. For a mini-vacation, camping is not only essential to do at least once, but can also be done as a weekend getaway several times a year.
Takeaways for Mini-Vacations
When it comes to vacationing, the most popular tourist attractions are obvious. Las Vegas, Hollywood, New York, Miami, all these cities have readily available tourist attractions, accommodations, and night-life. However, sometimes the vacation itself can prove to be more tiresome and stressful than originally planned. The purpose of a vacation is not to stress over finding a hotel, battling traffic and crowds of people, and paying outrageous prices for food and Ubers. Vacationing doesn’t have to be difficult, or tiresome. The point of a vacation is to be able to escape from your daily stressors, be it work or home, and have time to gather your thoughts and re-charge for the upcoming year.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize there are fantastic resources available to them to make the most of a short vacation. As mentioned earlier, some don’t even take the opportunity and make use of all their vacation time. From taking a train ride cross-country, riding a helicopter, experiencing nature, and finding a new exciting activity like power-boating, vacationing can be both simple and exciting. In addition, being able to find the time to vacation can be a feat all on its own, and can prove to be a deterrent from vacationing at all for some people. With these mini-vacations, you can still have a chance to visit that unique destination, or camp for a couple of days, without worrying about getting your vacation request denied. With these five ideas, you can make sure those limited vacation days pack a punch and get you back on track to a stress-free mind.