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Managing vacation for maximum benefit

Jeffrey Benjamin

Summer months are generally a busy time for vacations. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling around the world and consider myself a professional vacationer by taking six to eight weeks of vacation every year. To make the best of your vacation time consider a few of these tools, tips and habits that I’ve gathered over the years for creating a successful respite from work.

Make the time. Yes, money can be tight. The workload is piling higher. No excuses, though. Schedule it and make it happen. Vacations offer a chance to get renewed, refreshed and re-energized. Burnout can reach an all-time high when you don’t take a break from the hustle and bustle of work. Surprisingly, a portion of the population skips vacation. That’s crazy. If a full vacation is too cumbersome, a great idea is to take a mini-vacation. William James, the father of modern psychology quipped, “Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not.”

Follow the list. Have a running checklist of items can prevent you from re-creating the wheel over and over again. Plus, you don’t forget items. A running list also makes it possible to add things you think about while on vacation for future vacations. Checklists have saved my anatomy many times over. I like the words of Harriet Martineau, “You better live your best and act your best and think your best today, for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.”

Take the day after vacation off. Elbert Hubbard noted, “No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.” Take a vacation from the vacation. Having a day off prior to returning to work after a vacation is nearly essential. This cannot always happen but when it does you will feel more refreshed when returning to our responsibilities.

Be early. Give yourself plenty of time to make it through the unexpected incidents that can crop up like computer glitches at the ticket counter, slow security check points or congested traffic. Running behind can cause undo stress and anxiety and missing an expected flight can put a damper on your travel itinerary.

Clarify messages. This is particularly important when traveling in foreign countries. Communications can easily get mixed up as different perspectives, accents, and meanings can get jumbled. Sometimes it helps to ask several people the same question to ensure you find the right information you are in search of.

Turn off the news. You will be informed of all the news that may be “important” in our society without watching television or reading the newspaper during your vacation. The news will come in from friends, co-workers and numerous other sources whether you like it or not. The decision to make this drastic change alone (for most people) will release creative energy. Create your own life the one you’ve imagined. Stop watching the news and spend that valuable time enjoying your vacation.

Employ a GPS system. Whether you are walking or driving you can get where you want to go at a more effective pace by utilizing an iPhone, Android, iPad, Garmin or other device. I have used my iPhone while walking to navigate the city of New York, New Orleans and many other cities. Without it I would have wasted numerous hours wandering aimlessly.

Disconnect from work. Vacation is a chance to get away to relax and recharge. If you are constantly engaging in conversations via phone and email with the office then you are not on vacation. This can be difficult for business owners, but it is possible. Make your best effort to designate someone to handle some of your workload when you are out of the office. If you must attend to important work issues make it minimal.

Create a daily budget. A super way to make sure you have enough money to get your through your vacation and not overspend is to designate how much money you will be able to spend each day. Overspending or not having enough money to get you through your vacation can be stressful, which is the opposite of what you want to experience when on vacation. Benjamin Franklin explained it well by saying, “Be aware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a big ship.”

Preserve the memories. Make sure to carry a camera, video recorder or journal with you. Reminiscing your vacation can be just as exhilarating. Capture as much as you can and sift through it later. Remember to pack extra batteries and memory to avoid losing out on precious captures. On a personal note, I take still photos, videos and journal entries on every vacation. My computer screen saver and slide shows allow me to relish and re-live my experience while back at work and gives me the extra energy to push hard so I can afford to take my next vacations.

Allow for flexibility. Adventures rarely happen without some sort of hiccup. Adapt and change according to circumstance. Having an alternative plan can also help to reduce or eliminate anxiety and get you back into vacation mode. Case in point, on one of my camping trips to Yosemite, alternative camp sites were planned. Due to an unexpected fire in the area that prevented us from executing our original plan, we used them.

Apply vacation lessons to your business life. Different people and different geographical areas offer amazing perspectives. From unfamiliar products and service offerings to unique ways of viewing the world can be discovered while on vacation. This is a chance to step back from the every day rat race to glean insights Abe Lincoln hit the nail on the head when he shared, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

Do your research. This can include cultural customs, roadmaps, available activities, safety concerns, currency exchanges, and the list goes on. Travel review Web sites are another useful tool to gain information on what other people have experienced. Create a file folder and drop these items in for reference. You can also drop in items you come across while on your vacation so you have a central place to access the information you need.

Vacations allow for life experiences and lifetime memories. Grab onto a few of these tools, tips and habits to get the most out of your vacations.

Jeffrey Benjamin is the co-author of “Real Life Habits for Success,” contributing author to the book “The Sleeping Giant: The Awakening of the Self Employed Entrepreneur,” founder of Breakthrough Training and host of Breakthrough Radio every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on 99.1 FM Talk. Contact him through http://www.breakthroughtraining.com.