If You Ever Needed a Vacation from Your Vacation (then this blog is for you)

It was a family beach vacation, and we were having a blow-out barbecue.

Vacation Burnout

I slowly spread the mayonnaise on my hamburger.

I took a few bites and something tasted awfully strange.

I looked down at the mayonnaise jar and it said…

“Best if used by May 2007″….six years ago…yuck!

Family Vacations can Stress You Out

Ever had a family vacation that you were looking forward to and dreading all at the same time?

Then when you returned to work afterwards you “needed a vacation from your vacation”?

Maybe it’s a vacation where you can’t wait to have an adventure with your family, yet you’ve got a secret longing just to relax and sleep.

You can quickly end up toasted from the vacation burnout if you’re burning the candle at both ends to make it happen.

This is exactly what I was up against on a recent family vacation when I experienced a high level of vacation stress even before we left home.

Along the way, I picked up a few tips that are sure to help you experience more:

  • Rejuvenation – You show up at work the week after totally relaxed and re-energized.
  • Enjoyment – You’re not having to vent every night of vacation behind a locked door complaining about Uncle Fred who wears the European-style speedo and says inappropriate things at the dinner table.
  • Peace of Mind – You don’t have to relive the ancient family drama over again when you’re seeing each other for the first time in 2-years.

By keeping a few key tips in mind for your vacation, you can have the family fun you’re aiming for and still get plenty of relaxation.

Five Keys to Avoiding Vacation Stress

#1 You don’t have to grit your teeth.

Within 2 hours of arrival to the beach house, I found myself already gritting my teeth and hunching my shoulders.  The chaos of a beach house full of extended family was already killing my vacation buzz.  I’d even started fantasizing about returning to work that very afternoon as an escape.  Didn’t my boss have some kind of emergency that he needed my presence for at the office?  The tip here is that you’re ultimately in control of your own relaxation.   The funny thing was my relaxation was the only thing I could control. I couldn’t do a thing about the kitchen insanity, disorganization, or the random bed times everyone was following. All I could really do was control was how I was responding.

#2 You don’t have to play golf. 

I spent weeks fretting about burning one of my vacation days playing a sport that I really don’t like.  How would I tell my father-in-law that I just didn’t want to play?  The tip is to not be afraid of declining a request.  Turns out it was just as easy to tell them I didn’t want to play and there was no consequence at all.  In the end, we all were happy…I ended up relaxing and swimming while they enjoyed the golf course.

#3 You don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it.  

We each took a night of the week to prepare a meal during our beach vacation.  This turned out to be massively complicated with 14 eaters all picky in their own way i.e. some in our crew only ate vegetables while some didn’t each vegetables at all.  One night the pot pie was so overdosed with pepper that only a few people could eat it.  As you can imagine, this was a big sore spot for many. What I found helpful was that it was much easier if someone cooked what they liked and if someone wouldn’t eat it, then it was their own responsibility to prepare food that they would eat. It made it much simpler and helped reduce the resentment in the house (or at least some of it).  The tip is to avoid resentment by taking ownership of your own satisfaction.  

#4 You learn to co-exist with sand.

Vacation Stress

I really hate getting sand in the house.  It’s one of my pet-peeves.   But on a family beach vacation you can bet that sand is going to get everywhere including the floor, clothes, and even in the bed.  At first I fought it and continuously reminded everyone to use the outdoor beach shower. Then I finally accepted that they just didn’t see it as importantly as I did.  Also I accepted that we wouldn’t be living sand free, and the house might even look like a sand trap by the end of the week.  While I didn’t totally make peace with it, my week became much easier to enjoy.  The tip here is to stop trying to change others and accept them as they are even when you don’t agree.

#5 You share your beer. 

The family initially decided that everyone would buy their own food for most of the trip, but once we arrived it was obvious that wasn’t going to work.  Everyone was sharing one kitchen and thus one refrigerator.  I initially resented it when the stock of my favorite beer and snacks for the week began to quickly evaporate.  Then I shifted my perspective when it was actually pleasurable to see hem enjoying something that I did even if we ran out quickly.  It was also surprising how much easier it was for everyone to share than to worry about who brought what in a stuffed refrigerator.  Ultimately sharing was less energy intensive, an easy conversation starter,  and much more fun than not sharing at all.

Less Stress Back at the Office

The office can be a stressful environment too, particularly when you’re in close quarters just like on family vacation.

Also you don’t always get to “pick” your co-workers.

You’ll find that these tips for vacation stress are actually helpful back at the office.

Start by picking one of the tips and practicing it on vacation.

Then try it on your first day back to the office.

Notice how much more relaxed you feel.

To your Ahhhh!



PS: For immediate vacation stress relief, get instant access to the Burnout Manifesto by entering your email here:


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