There are many reasons why people go on vacation, ranging from the desire to unwind and get away from the ordinary stresses of normal life, to the desire to do something more interesting and distinct than usual. Many people view their annual vacation as their chance to finally experience a bit of adventure, and do something genuinely “exciting,” “different,” and perhaps most of all, memorable. Here are some Tips for Appreciating Simple Things on Vacation.
Ultimately, however, if you’re going away on vacation specifically because you want to do your best to live out your own personal heroic tale, epic Hollywood romance, or another larger-than-life moment, you may be approaching things in the wrong way altogether.
Life is often filled with big moments, hidden in otherwise mundane and everyday situations. And if you go on a trip hunting specifically for extraordinary experiences — whether it be to the South of the United States, or to a tribal rainforest village half a world away — you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. This isn’t because incredible experiences aren’t out there, but because you often need to adopt the right mindset in order to properly identify and enjoy them.
On your vacation, it pays to be able to ground yourself and focus on what’s right in front of you in the here and now. You should train yourself to appreciate the simple things, as much as you can, and that’s likely to open many brilliant doors to you, in terms of the overall quality of your experience – whether your spending time in St Louis or Sydney.
Here are a few tips for Appreciating the Simple Things on your Vacation.
Enjoy your usual delicacies and small treats, but done in a seriously artisanal and focused way
One major benefit of going away on vacation in the first place is that it puts you in a more “open-eyed” state, where you are automatically susceptible to appreciating and experiencing things in a new light, and relaxing and having a good time.
As it turns out, this is the perfect mindset for “rediscovering” many of the small delicacies, treats, and pleasures you likely indulge in during the course of your everyday life, while also getting much more out of the experience than you normally would.
It’s likely, for example, that you’re one of the 90 or so percent of adults who consumes coffee or some other form of caffeinated beverage on a daily basis. But, drinking your morning mug while rushing out the door to work isn’t the same as exploring all the intricacies and nuance behind coffee preparation and appreciation, as an art form.
When away on your vacation, a great way of appreciating the simple things would be to treat yourself a bit, and spend a bit more time and money on things like your everyday cup of coffee. The twist, however, is that you should enjoy these delicacies in a seriously artisanal and focused way.
Fortunately, many vacation destinations you might be stopping off at pride themselves on local delicacies, and businesses dedicated to these things. The Darkest Roast, for example, has a great list of the best coffee shops in St Louis.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that it would be virtually impossible, in all likelihood, to really enjoy the “connoisseur experience” if you are constantly in a mad rush. So, make a point of slowing down, and taking things more in your stride, too.
Go on a tech fast when on your travels
Take a moment to think of the sorts of things that stop you from pausing to “smell the flowers” during the course of your everyday life. Likely, a lot of the obstacles that come to mind will be related to things like your workplace obligations.
If you’re being honest with yourself, however, it’s very likely that another major part of what keeps you in a permanently distracted state is the Internet, your many technological gadgets, and the entire world of entertainment, time-wasting, and intrigue that those things provide.
Perhaps more people than ever before are now making a point of traveling the world and living the “globetrotter” lifestyle. But, it’s not exactly clear whether that’s all being driven by the sheer love of travel, or whether they desire to rack up social media hits is also a key factor.
Some research has shown that spending too much time compulsively using social media is likely to lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, among other things. But aside from that, these platforms are known to be actively “addictive,” in the sense that they are built using systems and techniques borrowed from the gambling industry.
If you really want to get the most out of your vacation and appreciate the small pleasures and attractions that are right in front of you, it might be an excellent idea to go on a “tech fast” while traveling around.
That means no social media, and no web surfing, other than for real emergencies.
Simply freeing yourself from these ubiquitous distractions might both force and allow you to appreciate your surroundings in a whole new way.
Explore attractions that help you to see the familiar in a new way
Following on from the theme of “seeing the familiar in a new way,” there’s an interesting attraction to be found in St Louis – namely, the “Magic House” – a play center of sorts for kids, which essentially gives them a microcosm of the grown-up world to play around in.
This includes a replica of the Oval Office, a courtroom to act out trials in, a wooden car to practice changing a tire on, and more.
These kinds of attractions tend to be a massive hit with kids, in no small part because they give them a glimpse of the responsibility and potential that the future holds. This allows them to see familiar things – cars, supermarkets, et cetera – in a new light.
At the same time, people of all ages can benefit immensely from putting themselves in situations that help them to encounter and experience features of everyday life, presented in new and interesting ways.
Any place you’re going to for a vacation that’s even marginally different from your home town is likely to have plenty of attractions and opportunities for experiencing familiar things from a new angle. This, for example, might mean exploring the Florida Everglades on an airboat, whereas you might normally have been accustomed to paddling out on a rowboat in completely different climes.
In general, these sorts of experiences will allow you to appreciate the vacation more, but will also help you to cherish your everyday experiences more, too.
Focus on Cultural attractions that give you a deep insight into elements of the local history and culture, rather than simply cramming your schedule full
It’s quite natural that when we have the opportunity to get away on vacation, we frequently end up cramming just as much activity and sightseeing into the allocated time as possible, regardless of all else.
One consequence of this is that many tourists will typically spend only an hour or two at a given site or location, before hastily jetting off to the next one, and repeating the process over and over throughout the day.
This can certainly be an effective way of getting a small taste of the main tourist hotspots of an area, but it’s no way of actually engaging with any specific attraction in a really deep and meaningful way.
There’s a good argument to be made that, on your vacation, you should strongly consider emphasizing “quality” rather than “quantity,” meaning, specifically, that you should focus on cultural attractions that give you a deep insight into the elements of the local history and culture, rather than just a brief overview.
Among other things, that means that if you’re going to an art gallery, you should consider spending the whole day there with an audio guide, and should do your best to dig deep into the topics presented.
Often, it’s when we approach things in this kind of “deep” way that many of their most beautiful and fascinating features will tend to reveal themselves.
Try to approach your vacation with as few expectations as possible
If you approach your vacation filled with expectations and desires, you will inevitably be carrying a strong mental “map” of your destination along with you and will be projecting it onto everything you encounter.
Often, this can end up meaning that you spend your vacation more or less in a state of dissatisfaction, and fail to notice the genuine beauty in front of you because you are so fixated on trying to find things that match your mental construct a what the experience should be like.
To the greatest of your ability, you should try to approach a vacation with as few expectations as possible. Instead of trying to hunt down a particular experience, honestly open yourself up to whatever you find at your destination, and take pleasure in those things that you actually do discover there.
Of course, this is certainly easier said than done – and everyone will have a certain sense of what it is they are expecting and looking for when they head to a particular destination. Nonetheless, try to keep those expectations in check, and approach your travel experience with genuine curiosity.