Memorial Day weekend can be the start of the vacation season for many people. It’s a time to escape the routine requirements and experiences of life and find rest and renewal. Relaxation and renewal are important to our ability to think clearly and creatively, manage stressors, and feel good about ourselves and our lives. Common ways people try to achieve this relaxation on vacation is to lay on the beach, feeling the warmth of the sun and hearing the rhythm of the waves crashing, curl up with a good book, spend quality time with loved ones, and/or surround yourself with beautiful scenery. Calming your mind and body, focusing on your environment, absorbing yourself in literature, being with supportive people, and experiencing beautiful sights can all be positive ways to relax. But have you considered an active vacation?
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for relaxation, renewal, and stress management, but it is often difficult to sleep in a strange bed or new location. You are more likely to sleep when you have been active throughout the day than when you lay around not expending energy. Despite popular belief indulging in rich, heavy meals and alcohol do not contribute to good sleep.
On a a recent trip to DC to visit my cousin, I got to not only spend time with a loved one but also wear her out walking around the city and museums, as well as accept her challenge to bike from Alexandria, VA to Mt. Vernon. I felt so great about myself and my life (traveling is always a blessing) that I had to call my mom after we’d returned the bikes! Not only will you sleep better, but your body will be renewed and strengthened, you will be more involved with where you are visiting, and you will get closer to the sites.
Here are a few suggestions for an active vacation:
- Take a bike tour
- See every painting or exhibit in a museum
- Run or walk on the beach (the sand can increase difficulty)
- Experience the local night life and go dancing
- Hike the trails
- Climb a waterfall or “rock hop” (as a child, we traversed mountain rivers by hopping from rock to rock)
- Pack your tennis shoes and save cab fare
- Take the stairs, not the elevator, in the hotel
- Do not use the moving sidewalks in the airport or plan a short layover so you have to run gate to gate carrying your luggage
- Walk the escalators in the metro or subway (you’ll look less like a tourist)
What other ideas do you have?