Around the World in Seven Days: Using Vacation Time for Travel and Self Discovery

Americans are workaholics, often opting out of vacation days out of dedication to their careers, a sense of duty, responsibility, or for more pay. As Business Insider reported, most Americans, if given a choice, would prefer an extra $20,000 rather than four more weeks of vacation.  However, taking vacations and traveling has been proven to provide benefits at work, as well as in someone’s personal, emotional, and even spiritual life.  Seeing new places and exploring the vastness of life will improve productivity and happiness at work and elsewhere.

Fortify Yourself for Life

Life is known to put challenges in front of us. According to Inc., vacations are good for your health. Scientifically speaking, they help with sleep, disease prevention, and stress. This increases happiness and a sense of well being.

Fortifying your health prepares us to deal with other kinds of obstacles.  There comes a time when removing yourself from your usual environment can present an opportunity to see things under a different light, which in turn leads to understanding and enlightenment. Traveling can be a journey into better physical and mental health, but also discovering the world’s wonders and your own self.

For Grieving, Pain, and Addiction

Perhaps you have accumulated stress from work, getting over an illness, a relationship, the death of a loved one, or even addiction. The Huffington Post reports that traveling always provides a new vantage point and that it can help with deep internal rumblings, like that of grieving or psychological pain. Psychology Today suggests that traveling while on a journey to stay sober might require just a few extra steps of planning, but the results are well worth it. This is because you are already on a road to self discovery, and travel can illuminate it. Learning new faces, new cultures and customs can also help as a freeing distraction from inner struggles.

Immersing Yourself

So whether you are traveling to get away from work, to grieve, or to fight off personal pain, consider immersing yourself in the place you visit as a way to truly detach from your old surroundings. There are a variety of ways to do this, and they all depend on the kind of vacation you’re searching for. Consider a few ideas:

  • Instead of a hotel, make use of Airbnb, other bed and breakfasts, couchsurfing or hostels
  • Look for small, locally-owned restaurants
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for suggestions and ideas; this way, you connect with residents, and maybe even make a new friend
  • Ride public transportation and travel to different parts of the city

Enjoy the Time

Of course, if you’re leaving a stressful or demanding job for any period of time, taking time off may sound easy, but it might actually be a source of stress.This is because unwinding from a well-established routine and fast pace actually takes some practice. A few tips to make the most out of your vacation, as outlined by Life Hacker, include:

  • Plan and schedule ahead. This means make the decision, book the flight, and set it in stone. This will keep you from stressing out over whether it’s a good idea or whether you have too much work to do.
  • Think about the sort of experience you want to have, and plan accordingly. Look at different activities you can do in your destination, make reservations, research events, and fill up your days.
  • Don’t overstructure your vacation. Remember that you still want to enjoy your time and relax, so scheduling too many things might actually stress you out. Try spreading things out a bit and giving yourself time for leisure.

There is no manual to life, but it often feels as if we’re staring at the same page for too long. As the saying goes, the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. Traveling is self-discovery; seeing yourself in a different place and removing yourself from the norm can bring a new perspective and understanding to where you stand. It reduces stress, increases creativity and productivity, and replenishes much-needed energy.

Photo Credit: Pixabay