I am writing this from beautiful Redonda Bay which is a secluded beach in Nicaragua. I am in the midst of a family vacation celebrating my mother in law’s birthday, seeing the places where The Hubs’ family is from, enjoying delicious meals, hearing family history and making new memories. All in all it has been heavenly.
So heavenly that now I am writing a blog post. (What? On vacation?!? Really?!?) The Hubs is out with his mom taking a walk to the beach town next door. I am in our room, looking out to the lapping ocean waves, a beautiful cliff, just my laptop and my thoughts.
Why am I doing this on vacation!?!?
Because I love my thoughts. And I love sharing them with you. I love time to reflect and rest and honestly if I wasn’t here writing to you now, I would be writing in a journal or reading something inspirational and pondering.
The Hubs and I have designed our marriage so that we always share what we value and make time for it.
In planning our trip I asked for writing and reading and resting time, mixed in with adventures. So a couple of nights ago we went for a moonlight kayak together.
He is “Adventure Man” and he loves kayaking. I am the girl who grew up in Florida and doesn’t know how to swim. I know it’s never too late, just has not been a priority. It’s on The List – the big one that includes things like, visit Bali (which I have done) and do a detox cleanse (which I haven’t.)
So as I pondered what to write about this week, I thought it might be useful to share some of the things we do so that our vacations are very low on the stress meter and very high on the satisfaction index.
1. Plan Together – I sometimes joke that The Hubs is my own personal travel concierge. He LOVES doing the research, preparation and planning for a trip. I leave many of the details of the trip to him partly because I know how passionate he is about exploring and experiencing new things and partly because he is so incredibly organized that it makes me happy just to show up. When we are both happy, everybody wins.
Even though The Hubs does a ton of preparation for a trip, I am super involved in my own areas and ways. Sometimes we choose hotels together – both on laptops investigating, looking at pictures, tripadvisor, kayak etc.
Other times we talk about the trip and we each share what we want to experience: What are our Must Do activities? What are the Nice-to-haves?
Always, always we talk about what we want to do individually and what we want to do together.
The Hubs is Adventure-Man and loves all outdoor activities. I like to sit and read and rest and see beautiful things in safety and relative comfort.
So for example – on our honeymoon we went to a park called Xplor in Mexico. I took a romance novel and part of the time he went on an underground river tour, I sat in a beach chair and read. He came to get me once he was done and then we continued the rest of the afternoon together.
That day was truly momentous because we figured out we could be together, do things together and yet find a way so that both of us got to do something we loved without making each other do things we would hate.
Non-swimmer on underground river tour – on her honeymoon? No thank you. Adventure Man sitting in a chair reading a book – on his honeymoon? No way Jose.
Ever since that fateful day in Mexico, every time we go on a trip – we check in and plan and make sure there is time for each of us – together and separately to have experiences we value and appreciate.
2. Embrace Imperfection – For us, most vacations are usually a mix of careful planning and spontaneous adventure. We are the kind of couple where our bosses know in January that we are taking time off in October (to go visit Amy Grant on her farm, with 500 of her closest friends, thank you very much.)
In other words, we are planners. We reserve, we investigate, we make spreadsheets. Well, The Hubs makes spreadsheets and I admire them lovingly.
However, no matter how much we plan, the one constant in every travel experience is the unknown. You just don’t know until you get there that I will fall in love with the historic hotels in Granada and want to walk around more and take hundreds of pictures. Or that The Hubs can ask for a Kayak at 6 am and go paddling in the lake at dawn.
You also don’t know if your flight will be delayed or if that restaurant you thought would be amazing was just okay, but you just had the most delicious freshly-made potato chips you have ever tasted in your life.
No trip is ever perfect. Expecting it to be is a recipe for disappointment. Expecting surprises, delays and detours can be a recipe for an amazing experience. So my advice is plan absolutely, as much as you want to and then let go of the plan and be ready to change it as needed for peace, practical purposes, or inspiration.
3. Let Awe In. Awesome is one of my favorite words and I use it all the time. Overusing it would be like having too much money or health or love or chocolate – just not possible. I love awesome. One of the most beautiful things that happens when you travel is that because you are not surrounded by the familiar, you have 100% more opportunities for awe.
According to dictionary.com, Awe [is] an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like
“That which is grand” can vary widely – a beautiful beach with a cliff, an amazing meal, a comfortable bed, or a sunset – whatever is grand to you is totally possible on vacation. Open your heart and mind to the possibility something grand will happen – we do this as a practice. We expect to make new wonderful memories, and guess what? We do.
Before your next trip, take a moment to intend awe. Take a moment to invite awesome into your experience. It could be a sunset or a potato chip – you never know what form awesome will take, but if you are looking for it, there is a very good chance awesome will find you. When it does, let it in.
4. Do at least one new thing. This one might seem obvious, but don’t you know people who go on vacation and do almost exactly the same thing each time? Or go to the same places? Doing new things is very healthy for couples – produces those happy chemicals you are overflowing with when you are dating. It’s also healthy for you. Life doesn’t “get stale”, we get stale by not refreshing our minds and our souls with new thoughts, ideas and experiences. Doing new things is good at home, but even better on vacation.
These are some things that have worked for us. What about you? Is there something you do that helps you enjoy your vacations? Please share in the comments.