Have you ever heard yourself saying, “That vacation was fun, but I’m exhausted! I think I need a vacation from my vacation…”? In the mad rush to go play, we often fill our precious free time with too many activities.

With summer fast approaching and trip planning in full swing, let’s take a moment to explore how to make the most of your vacation time.

It’s important to start with the end in mind. When you return, how do you want to feel? Relaxed? Rested? Calm? Joyful? United? Choose a few key words and keep them in mind as you plan your adventure. Does your schedule support these objectives?

Now, instead of planning what you want to do, give some thought to what you want to experience. Do you like a lot of free unplanned time? Would you like to do something you’ve never done before or would you like to be in familiar territory? What pace would work best for you? Are you looking for a thrill, an escape or a cultural education? Do you want to be spontaneous or do you prefer to plan things ahead of time?

These questions shape the experience of the trip. Once that groundwork is laid, it’s time to choose the locations, activities and schedule that suit your dream vacation.

If you and your co-vacationers have different dreams for the vacation, talk about what each wants to experience (not do) and find a creative way to honour each person’s ideals. Perhaps this means time apart for solo adventures, compromising with each other, or choosing a third alternative. Whatever it takes, rely on your feeling words as a touchstone and you’re sure to have a wonderful time.

How to design your ideal vacation:
1. What are the most important feelings you want to return home with?
2. What activities, pace, environment and agreements would support those feelings?
3. What do you need to do (or say) to make your dream vacation a reality?