Summer is supposed to be endless days of sunny adventures that blow away all stress and recharges you for months to come. Summer is the time of year we look forward to and then savor through the cold season. Yet – summer puts a lot of pressure on many. Holidays can turn into ‘Hell-i-days’. Screaming, bored children that stare at the rain outside. Frantic searches for ‘fun’ that cost a small fortune. Planes, trains, and automobiles in utter chaos, which makes summer travel entirely zen-less. How do we turn these woes into wows – and why can’t we ever learn to just relax instead of making too many plans for our summers?
Summer in all its sun-filled glory invites us to enjoy, relax and soak up the season. Summer leave is understood and accepted in most countries. But – why does the summer vacation never live up to what it promised Mid-Winter?
- You plan for perfect Holidays in a catalog full of pretty destinations, in the harmonious company of family members who love every minute of this dreamy time of the year. You are joined by best friends and loving relatives. The Holiday then turns into a Hell-i-day with lost luggage, airport disasters and hotel rooms facing a motorway on a beach that’s been washed away — in the company of monsters you thought you knew — and family that shows every sign of just wanting to go home to their favorite TV shows. You are left out of your mind, and out-of-pocket – praying for autumn to come early. All you want is to retreat back to your routine and comfortable office.
- You rent an isolated holiday cabin, and dream of nature excursions, mountainous adventures, and long walks in unspoiled nature. You buy special equipment, and sports gear to fit with your outdoors fairy wonderland. When it turns into the wettest summer ever – the planned outside activities shrink with the size of the small holiday let. Your precious family grumpy at the wooden walls as the internet connection is null and void, and TV, a thing that hasn’t been invented yet. Your fantasy fitness injection becomes a distant memory. You return drained, bloated and vow never to go outside of the city ever again.
- Your brood of smiling juniors is off school. You plan for summer days of barefoot, sun-tanned freedom that will allow your kids to run wild. You plan healthy meals that will build them up, and invent new games and homemade toys to educate them about the simpler things in life. The school vacation quickly becomes never-ending days of sour faces and boredom. You cannot find time for those health organic health wonders, and bark boats. The house gets into an unbelievable mess that you cannot seem to get out of – and with no child-minders around – you sink down onto the floor and write to the government to institute mandatory school attendance all year round.
- Summer means nothing if you work in a profession where seasons play no role in leave planning. Aviation, Humanitarian Assistance or Health sector – you serve dutifully and look jealously at ‘those outsiders’ who get to spend time with their kids, family and enjoy summer BBQs and sunny fun. You may get a few days here and there, but your ‘real’ leave will most realistically fall out of season. In this case – you may actually be lucky as the rest of the population cramp together in washed out scenarios from hell. For once, you are on a winning streak, until you realize that your leave coincides with Christmas, Easter or Thanks Giving!
- As an Expatriate UN / NGO staffer, you may actually have to be on leave in the summer, because of its ‘Home leave’ year. The time off turns into the busiest month of the year as you travel back and forth between continents to see relatives, in-laws, and friends – interspersed with medical and private administrative ‘must-dos’ in between. You pack and re-pack and know you will come back to your duty station drained of all energy with empty pockets. Mid-flight between your parents and in-laws somewhere over the Arctic, you hope grimly for an urgent call, asking you to return to service, as soon as you land.
For all that organizing that you enjoy, maybe summer is the time not to plan so much. Summer can be the time to Wow yourself into health, fitness and real rest that lasts for a long, long time. By not planning, committing or overextending your hospitality, you allow yourself to really let go. Here are some tips on how you might turn your Summer Woes into Wows:
- How about a real health vacation? Make lifestyle changes a priority. Don’t drink alcohol, eat processed foods, or overindulge in sedentary laziness. Make your summer weeks all about re-energizing, re-booting, and re-charging your batteries. Who knows, you might just like it so much that you continue this ‘new you effort’ into autumn – and really make life-altering habits from your step-by-step summer lifestyle change drive?
- Go for a last-minute travel to a place you have never been, and only pick the 5-star hotel – at extra low-cost. At the price of a budget B & B, you will enjoy 5-star service, fitness & SPA centers, all-inclusive buffet and fab children’s clubs. By being lazy and last-minute – and a bit risky – you may end of with the holiday of a lifetime at a very low-cost indeed.
- Do not rent a cabin, buy a holiday package or in fact go anywhere. Stay at home. Don’t tell anyone – just pretend as if ‘it’s raining’. Make your holiday, yours — and yours alone. Do whatever you want for a few weeks in the comfort of your own house. Turn off the TV, phone, the internet, and social media. Just enjoy Me or We-time. Allow the hours to become days – and when you have woken up from your pre-vacation drained exhausted state, you will find yourself wanting to reorganize your garage, and get going with those lifestyle change plans. At no cost whatsoever, you will avoid ghastly summer travel; have no house guests (as they are on helliday); keep your parents-in-law at bay with promises of a garage overhaul – and just enjoy time to do what you want (for once!).
- During summer days at home take each day as it comes with your children in tow. Digitally detox! Turn off the everyday TV show, video game, and the internet. Make your house into an adventure park. Set up a tent in the living room or back garden; explore your local area; find a farmers’ market; explore the nearby woodland; take in a folklore festival, and look in your local paper for summer discount offers to public pools, sports clubs, and paintball parks. Go skateboarding, make pancakes, and stay up late. Do what you don’t do every day — and make your summer special for you and your kids. Don’t create big expectations, just let the day, and the weather, take you into summer together.
- If you work in Aviation, Humanitarian Aid or Health Sector – you can simply smile at the extra hours you tick off in your logbook or praise yourself for the world that you are saving. You serve. Well done! Your Wow is the work that you do – and everyone will admire you for it, right?!
- As the expatriate UN/NGO staffer – simply say to your relatives/friends and in-laws that you need time for yourselves. Don’t boomerang back and forwards between too many countries, and ‘social must-dos’. Really make the world stop for a while by voicing the word: NO! You also have the right to spend We-time together, and for all the guilt trips that you could go – just cancel this one!
Summer: Woe or Wow?
Ever since leaving became ‘an entitlement’ – Summers has become a time of ‘You must do this, and that – and you must have fun!’ It is simply not that easy.
In some countries, people have second homes that they retreat to for weeks on end. In Scandinavia, this is pretty much standard, but in many more countries around the world that is not possible. The fact of having the luxury of a second home makes the summer ‘planning’ pretty easy. You pack up and go to a place you have been before, where the trees look the same, and daily rhythm is decided by weather and the wind.
For those of us who do not have such a possibility – we can still take a page from the ‘home away from home’ idea. By not over-planning, and letting the days run their course, you go into a healthy slow-motion. After a few days of doing ‘nothing,’ your energies return. Your daily walks offer fitness and ‘feel good factor’, and the seasonal healthy meals result in a leaner, healthier ‘new you’ that stays with you for a long time.
Related and Recommended:
- Home leave is no vacation – Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide
- 101 Fun Things to Do with Kids this Summer – Care.com
- Digital Detox: How To Unplug to Reconnect– thegoodista.com
- 8 Great Alternative Budget Vacation Ideas – Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
- Travel, Hotels and Low-cost Bookings – LateRooms.com
- Last Minute Travel for Less – ebookers.com
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