What I learned on my winter vacation: How to enjoy it and use it to your advantage

Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope each and every one of you have had a joyous time and that you have allowed yourselves to relax, enjoy and have some quiet time. Two days ago, I returned home from a week away on a Caribbean cruise. It had been a couple of years since I skipped town to head for hotter weather during the winter break, so the cruise was a nice trip.

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As someone who lives and breathes her career as she works around the clock with her business partner to build up their company, taking a vacation is a luxury for me – not only financially, but finding the appropriate time to get away and escape my regular responsibilities for a week or two. During this last trip, I promised myself (and my fiancée and my parents) that I would try to disconnect as much as possible. Believe me, it was a tough thing to do, but after a week away, here are some things I learned while cruising the Caribbean (both how to enjoy it and use it to my advantage upon returning home):

 1) Disconnect yourself from work OR come up with a way to keep yourself in vacation mode with a little bit of work mode thrown in:  What I mean by this is IF you are able to and comfortable to, put on your out-of-office reply securely, hop on that plane and stay away from your work emails and just let yourself disconnect. However, if you are like me and need peace of mind about work while away, set a time ONCE a day to check your work emails. I did this on my trip and it actually helped me to relax more.

2) Take some alone time on your trip to reflect:  Vacations away are a great time to reflect on yourself and your life. Take that walk alone or sit out and enjoy a beautiful view and just think. During my cruise, I would walk alone on the upper deck, taking in the views of the ocean and think about my current state and what I wish to accomplish in the New Year. I even made a list of goals. Sure, you may not achieve everything in the next 12 months, but making a list and setting up some new heights to reach is a good thing.

3) Experience something new:  Whether you are visiting a new place or returning on a trip to the familiar, push yourself to try or experience something new. For me, this cruise was a new experience. I had never been on a cruise before, mainly to my loyalty to all-inclusive resorts. However, I loved it and enjoyed visiting four breathtaking islands that I have never been to before. I also went on a fun cable car ride up a mountain in St. Thomas – a new experience that I will never forget. Love the new life moments! They are certainly refreshing.

4) Allow yourself to relax:  This can be tough for a lot of us! Many of us work and live in a fast-paced environment, so it is difficult when you finally have a chance to sit back, put your feet up, and chill. Select a vacation destination that will personally help you relax (my favourite is any place that has hot weather and a beautiful beach, as you can tell) and pick a time of year where it is quieter at work, if that helps. If you are going with a staycation, plan your free time with activities that allow you to relax and enjoy. For example, book yourself in for a spa day and then enjoy a delicious night at a favourite restaurant with loved ones.

5) SLEEP!:  Even if you are going on a touring-heavy trip, make sure to get your 8 to 9 hours of Z’s in. For me, my cruise was great because I caught up on sleep and came back well-rested and rejuvenated. So, even if you are touring all day or are partying into the early hours of the morning, get your sleep. You will be thankful for it upon your return to reality, work, and regular life.

6) Cherish your vacation and the memories of it:  Enjoy every moment, turn any trip lemons into lemonade so to speak, take plenty of pictures and even keep a journal. As you vacation, live in the moment. Create ways to document it so you can always remember the special time that you had. For this cruise alone, I must have taken a minimum of 250 pictures. Yes, a lot of those will be deleted, but some of the gems will be frame-worthy!

Got any other ways to enjoy your vacation and use it to your advantage post-vacation? Share your suggestions below!

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