How a trip versus a vacation affects your mental health

IIn April, Caroline Chambers visited New York City with her husband and three young children for five days. She has big plans to take her children to the Natural History Museum and see the city through their eyes. But things didn’t go as planned: The kids were bored with museums, couldn’t find many places to expend their energy, and she and her husband spent hours dragging a double stroller around the sprawling metropolis. While it’s a fun and engaging adventure, Chambers, a cookbook author who regularly posts about parenting on social media, says: “It’s definitely been a ride. not a vacation.”

While both terms technique which means the same thing — time away from home — there is a big difference between the reality of each person’s life. Typically, a trip is travel time where you are still responsible for major day-to-day tasks (whether it’s work or family related) and you may or may not have control over the destination and journey. So even if your boss sends you to Tokyo for five days, all expenses paid, you’ll likely spend almost all of that time working in the boardroom instead of catching up on your job. udon location you’ve been following on Instagram. It was a trip.

A vacation, on the other hand, is a time dedicated to pure relaxation, where Friend responsible for your actions and locality. Lora Rosenblum, who works in healthcare and often attends conferences and meets with clients and colleagues from afar, says: “Holidays are fun when you can be 100 per cent selfish with your partner. his time.

However, if you’re in a situation where one trip is all you can take or your only future plan for whatever reason, that means you can’t reap the rewards. reap the good benefits that vacations bring?

The sneaky mental health impact of taking a trip instead of a vacation

The difference between a trip and a vacation seems quite different on paper. But sometimes, trips can turn into vacations. Addendum A: Your best friend’s bachelor party in New Orleans, where even though you’re weathering the storms and dancing on Frenchmen Street, you still don’t have complete discretion over usage Or where to spend your hard earned dollars. who you spend time with. Exhibit B: A family reunion with your parents-in-law, where you and your children are expected to be at every event, bathed and properly dressed.

“Traveling often leaves people feeling more tired because they often don’t take the time and space to do what you want or need, because the wants and needs of others come first.” —Heidi McBain, LMFT

This may sound like splitting hairs, but there is a mental health implication to the trip versus vacation debate. “Travels often make people feel more tired because they often don’t take the time and space to do what you want or need,” says Heidi McBain, LMFT, a licensed therapist in Texas. The wants and needs of others come first. “This can make you feel like you need a ‘real’ vacation after coming home from this trip.” But if all your hard-earned vacation days are used up going from one trip to the next, you’ll be less likely to achieve that sense of vacation.

This is not to say that a trip can’t be filled with fun, rewarding or even relaxing moments. But that means you’re allowed to feel a little disappointed or exhausted (or even a bit too much) when you return from what you hoped would be a vacation and not feel recharged. And there are certainly cases where you really believe the coming time will be a genuine vacation, only to find out in real time that it was just a trip.

For example, having a “real” vacation can be especially difficult for parents, especially new ones. The old adage is that every travel experience with young children counts as a trip because normal day-to-day parenting responsibilities still apply. “You’re raising your kids in a different location, and to be honest, it’s more difficult than life at home,” Chambers said. (Think: enforce a bedtime while adjusting to a different time zone, or have routines that are already disrupted by plane or car travel). And you certainly won’t be completely selfish with your time when traveling with your kids.

“Many parents make the mistake of doing too much or too big, trying to cram it all in to make the most of their time,” says Wendy Burk, CEO and founder of Cadence, a travel agency. child’s time. “That’s understandable, especially if you only have one vacation a year. Just getting out of your comfort zone can be stressful, even if it’s a beautiful tropical island. Trying to see things only adds to the feeling of being overwhelmed.”

How to optimize vacations so they don’t feel like trips

Sometimes a trip disguised as a vacation is unavoidable, such as when traveling with young children or the aforementioned family reunion. But there are things you can do to still make the best use of your time and maximize the potential for relaxation for you and those with you.

Chambers says there are very specific ways to ensure that parents can still have a vacation when traveling with their children. “It’s all about going to a hotel that makes everything so easy for you. It doesn’t have to be a luxury hotel, it just needs to have a hotel with amenities like a body of water and an amusement facility,” she said. Personally, she doesn’t find vacation rentals like AirBnbs beneficial to the vacation mindset “because then you still have to cook and clean. You basically just pick your life and put it somewhere else, even if that location has a beach.”

Erina Pindar, COO and managing partner at SmartFlyer, a full-service luxury travel agency, recommends booking a resort experience that features on-site activities and a kids’ club . “While they are busy having fun, you can rest assured that you are just steps away from enjoying the spa or relaxing by the pool, just in case you need it.”

If you’re not staying at a structured resort, try Chambers’ “leave-in” method, which involves waking up and packing up everything you need for the day, then heading straight for the beach or lake. swim or park and leave your stuff there for the day. “Bring [your kid’s] pillows, their piglets, whatever you need to sleep on and don’t plan to leave until dinnertime,” she said. Ideally, she adds, you’re staying at a hotel where you can order your food locally; Bringing a picnic with PB&Js for the kids is also very effective. This way, she says, you’ll reduce the number of times you have to switch to another activity — an activity that can get chaotic even in the best of times.

“Making space for personal time is important not only to you, but to everyone on the trip.” —Erina Pindar, COO and managing partner, SmartFlyer

Granted, setting up shop at a hotel with key amenities isn’t the most accessible or affordable option. Even so, Chambers argues that spending four days in a relaxing destination where you’ve budgeted to buy all your meals—rather than a seven-day trip where you plan to prepare it all meals or travel far to go about your daily activities—may be worth it for the relaxing vibes. “You will be a lot happier if you can make your life as easy as possible,” she says.

Chambers used her free-spirited mindset on a recent vacation to Hawaii with friends, where she brought her two children with her but her husband stayed home with their third. “I was disconnected and on vacation because we weren’t doing our best. We didn’t try to climb all the volcanoes. We don’t go whale watching. We plopped down on the beach.”

But these vacations can still make you feel out of place because you’re still meeting other people’s needs before your own, even if it’s to make things more enjoyable for everyone. . “To get a few pure vacation-like moments in one trip, “making sure to set aside time in advance to take a break from the day is essential,” says Pindar. “Making space for personal time is important not only for you, but for everyone on the trip.”

If you’re a parent, that could mean splurging on a babysitter for an evening so you can have a date night, or having your partner babysit the kids so you can get a massage, exercise. exercise or go on a solo excursion. If you’re traveling with other family members or large groups, try making a “pre-trip call to go over the itinerary and work through all of your questions and make sure everyone is on the same page.” best together,” Pindar said. This resolves any potential misunderstandings about the amount of time you all expect to do activities together versus your own time.

Burk agrees: “Find things in common that you can do together for a bonding experience, but don’t be afraid to take time for yourself too. Holidays are personal, and what pleases one person very rarely pleases another. Think of it like wearing your oxygen mask. You must put yours up before you can help others. So don’t be afraid to take care of you, so you can go back to fully enjoying the company around you.”

Trips can also have a vacation aspect

Likewise, even if you’re taking a trip that’s clearly not a vacation, “you can schedule your time to make the moments of your trip feel like a vacation,” says Rosenblum. “For example, if I was on a business trip to a warm place and my work obligations were over, I would spend hours before a flight by the pool or wandering around a new city. When we go to weddings, my husband and I try to make time to do the things we prioritize on vacation, like going for a walk without a schedule or renting an interesting car.”

Pindar suggests extending a few days before commencing work or a required trip, if that’s financially feasible. “Arriving a few days before a meeting or event to explore a city is always a great way to experience the resort mindset. In some cases, arriving early also allows you to easily switch to a new time zone, as a bonus, making your trip more efficient.

McBain also suggests making time to exercise or meditate during the trip. “Consider ways you can uniquely prioritize what you want and need by setting clear boundaries with others, even when those Others have different expectations from you.

There are also small ways to adjust your perspective to enter break mode, says Burk. “Go for a walk without your phone. Try to learn something new about the city you are in or visit a local landmark. Even the most boring business trip can turn into an enjoyable leisure trip if you change your mind about what you want to do and gain from the experience, and work around your established agenda. your intention to find space to explore or discover something new.”

Recently, Chambers and her husband were discussing the type of travel they could take during the summer. Italy was on the table. So is Ireland. But after taking the definitely-not-a-vacation trip to New York, they realized they wanted to prioritize relaxation as a family. So they decided to take another “free” vacation in their future instead. She said: “Italy is a lot more interesting when my children are not in the moody stage. Until then, patience and “plop” are in order.


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