These days if someone raised the importance of vacations, he’d get a sigh or a shrug because with the economic downturn and the roller coaster state of our wallets, it seems hardly appropriate to talk about vacations. But major expense or not, vacations are important
Importance of Vacations: Justifications
The # 1 reason is health. For those who are cynical, most health magazines and journals report that research has proven repeatedly that vacations are good for our physical and mental health. We’ll be more specific:
- Stress – we’ve tried breathing techniques, meditation and visualization techniques to ward off stress – perfect ways to de-stress – but it might do us a world of good if we got away at least once a year. We’re not advocating a global tour. There are benefits to just leaving home and going to a place where nothing reminds you of the conundrum of life. Sure, home is where the heart is, but once a year, we’ve got to take good care of that heart. By breaking with routine, meeting people, doing different activities, and letting our eyes feast on new surroundings, we put stress on the backburner – even for just a week or two. When we come back from vacation, we can face stress again, this time with renewed vigor.
Fact: stress is directly related to heart disease. A Newsweek feature story entitled The New Sciences of Mind and Body as reviewed by Teresa Goldin in 2004 said that “There is evidence that stress is correlated with heart disease (among many medical problems) and that reduced or managed stress can boost one’s immune system and help control diabetes. According to Newsweek, experts claim that 60-90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related.”
- New behaviour – engaging in new behavior is like wearing a new dress. When we go on vacation, we stimulate our five senses and do things that are not part of our tired and boring routine. If we choose a vacation where physical activity is encouraged (like the Club Med vacation packages that are popular), we use muscles and reflexes that otherwise we would not use. We knew an individual who was a workaholic. She loved her work and argued that her work was sheer pleasure, whereas the idea of going on vacation would be hard work for her. At the insistence of her family, she reluctantly joined a backpacking tour and when she came back two weeks later, she was a changed person. She said that she didn’t think mountains had anything to offer except rocks and vegetation, but she enjoyed every minute of those mountain walks and the panoramic views that put color back into her cheeks and back into her life. She signed up for next year’s tour.
- Solitude – it may sound contradictory but solitude can restore our faith in humanity. If the kind of work you do is people-related where you spend eight to ten hours a day talking to people on the phone, pitching to clients, traipsing from one meeting to another, you need to have solo time. The constant interaction with people could burn you out because you don’t have much time to think inwards. Taking a vacation in a remote island where you can enjoy your own company can make you reflect about how fortunate you are to be in the company of friends and strangers day in and day out… but you need to get away from them to appreciate that!
- Compensation for hard work – enjoying the rewards of our hard work is indispensable. Our work defines us, but we need to define and distinguish what is work and what is play. You know the adage, all work and no play makes a man dull. Let the money you’ve earned work for you this time. Splurge and pamper yourself. Knowing that you have the financial resources to take time off is a good feeling; thousands of people would give anything to have that feeling.
- Broadened horizons – even the cheapest and least exotic vacations can enlighten our minds and open our souls. There is always something to be learned, to wonder about and to admire. By visiting places we’ve never been to before, our mind absorbs new knowledge. The ability to share that knowledge with friends and family makes us more interesting, more connected.
- Renewal of ties and bonds – our hectic lives make us forget the need to renew ties with family and friends. By taking a step back from our daily grind, we remind ourselves that there are other people in our orbit who deserve and need our attention. By visiting family at least once a year, we realize that there are people we can turn to should a family crisis occur. Also, by taking our children on vacation, we genuinely communicate with them and address their concerns one-on-one. At home, we get distracted by the flat tire, the broken water heater, the unpaid bills and the PTA meetings.
Importance of Vacations: Going on a Shoestring Budget
If you can’t afford a global tour or a Caribbean cruise where you can put on some flip flops, it’s not the end of the world. It’s not an excuse either to postpone your vacation.
There are inexpensive ways to take that much needed breather. Our suggestions –
- Farm visits – a wonderful thing about the North American continent is that you can take the car for a spin and in about an hour you’re in a rustic village or a vast expanse of land. You can take the family on a vegetable or animal farm and live the agricultural life for a week or two. This will give you a chance not only to break from city routine, but also improve your diet as you’ll be eating fresh produce straight from mother earth.
- Back roads and B&Bs – no matter what state or province you live in, you have next door neighbours that you can reach by taking old and forgotten back roads. You might stumble on a quaint bed and breakfast that your family will enjoy. Sit down, take a map, and jot down four or five places you can visit. Then plan a journey from east to west or vice versa; or from north to south and then see if you can find some B&Bs on that stretch. The beauty of this is that you could discover charming villages and old taverns that serve a good homemade soup with sizzling steaks. For example, if you live in Vermont, you could go to Quebec, New York or New Hampshire. If you live in Fredericton in New Brunswick, you can snake your way down Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, or snake up to Edmunston (NB) or go sideways either to Maine or Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Ivern Ball: “A family vacation is one where you arrive with five bags, four kids and seven I-thought-you-packed-its.”