Tips for the Best Summer Vacation
Tuesday is the Fourth of July, and if you didn’t join the 44.2 million people taking a short trip, you may be planning a vacation later this summer.
Make sure yours is fun. Here’s how:
Take your vacation
From the 1970s until 2000, Americans took 20 days of vacation a year, according to Project Time Off. Today, they take 16. People struggling to find full-time work and people who are paid by the hour can’t afford time off.
But 55 percent of Americans don’t use up their full vacation benefits, leaving 658 million days untaken.
This is dumb. Employers should want workers to take time off. Breaks can show critical gaps in a company. If your company is too dependent on one person, it’s doing something wrong.
Your employer should miss you, of course. But your employer should not be unable to function without you. You’re in charge? Then delegate.
No one thinks you are a martyr for proclaiming that you’re so important that you can never get away. They think you’re a chump (or a suck-up) — and will make you do more thankless tasks.
Once you actually decide to plan a vacation, though, be prepared: Something will go wrong. One of four things will go awry:
- Your flight will be canceled.
- The museum you wanted to visit will be closed.
- Your kid will get sick.
- The country you’re visiting will have a revolution.
These cost money and time. Do not turn these setbacks into catastrophes. They are part of your vacation. I have seen the inside of foreign police stations and public hospitals. They were interesting, and I remember them more, and more fondly, than lots of touristy things.
Your vacation is not “ruined” because things throw you off schedule. This is your life; take it.
Your vacation costs money
You’ll spend $9 on a bottle of warm water and $30 for a bad sandwich. Don’t tell yourself, “I spent $400 today and didn’t have $400 worth of fun.” The money is already spent. Forget it.
But, be realistic: If you’re already in so much debt that you’re not going to enjoy your time, then don’t go in the first place.
You are still yourself on vacation
Do not bring the dress you haven’t worn and the book you haven’t read in 20 years. If you don’t like museums at home, you won’t like them somewhere else.
If you get along well with your spouse at home, you will get along on your trip. If not, all the romantic atmosphere in the world won’t help.
Take your time. You cannot see three cities in seven days. “But this is the only chance I’ll ever have to go to Europe.” OK, so don’t ruin it by getting up at 6 in the morning and returning to the hotel at 11 at night just to say you saw everything.
Pick one place, and stay there
Any one of them will do. Skip the side trip that involves sitting for two hours on a bus. Just because it’s closer than your house 2,000 miles away doesn’t make it convenient; it won’t be fun.
Let your children do what they want
Kids want to splash in public fountains, play in parks, embrace dirty dogs, navigate little wooden boats in a pond, ride on a donkey and eat ice cream. So let them.
Mothers — and it’s always mothers; the fathers don’t care — insist on sticking to a strict schedule. Their kids are busy and happy throwing rocks at a park. But they’ve spent 10 minutes doing that, so it’s time to see a famous church.
Let them have fun until they want to do something else.
Do not try to be a local
You are a tourist, and you are doing touristy things. You aren’t going to find an out-of-the way street or cafe that tourists don’t go to. If you know about it, the other tourists do, too.
Do silly things that locals don’t do, like eat cannoli for breakfast. Be polite and gracious to the locals. The Czechs don’t expect you to speak Czech, but they would like it if you don’t throw up in the street.
What did you like? If you miss the beach, sit outside once a week in your bathing suit. If you miss cocktails before dinner, do that at home, too.
Are you happy to be home? If so, good — you had a successful trip. If not, you have to change your life.
Never an easy task, but vacation is no substitute for being reasonably pleased with how things go during the rest of the year.
This piece originally appeared at the New York Post
This piece originally appeared in New York Post