Photo Credit: Courtesy ElizabethBanks.com
In her first exclusive blog for the iVillage blog series CelebVillage, actress Elizabeth Banks (whose movie adaptation of the best-selling book The Hunger Games hits theaters on March 23) writes about why her vacation strategy has been all wrong in the past -- and her tips on changing that in the future.
Spring break is here and for many people, that means a vacation. I've been on some lovely vacations in some really nice places but the quality of my vacations has deteriorated in the past few years. I've lost sight of how to truly vacate my work life and just relax.
For instance, over the holidays, I took a "vacation." I put the word in quotes because it was not quite a vacation and also because, let's face it, vacation means different things to different folks. Some people take very ACTIVE vacations. And others take super LAZY vacations. For me, the best vacations are a combo. They entail rest, relaxation, fun and, usually, some form of recreation -- swimming, scuba diving, skiing, hiking the Alps. (I don't know why I put the Alps on that list, since I've never been there, but if I vacationed near them, I would want to hike them.) No matter which type you take, at the end, you should come home refreshed, reinvigorated, and really tan.
My holiday vacation just left me EXHAUSTED. When I arrived back home, all I felt was...I need a vacation after that vacation.
We’ve all been there. We get overzealous and try to pack way too many things into a limited amount of time. "Sure, we can see Florence, Rome, Venice and Paris in four days!" Or we go with the wrong people, like the boyfriend who should already be an ex. Or we cheap out. "Sure, I can live for a week with my toddler in 300 square feet." We end up feeling stressed instead of relaxed. We lose control of the vacation, sucking the fun out of it. And nobody wants to be a fun-sucker.
Well, I'm here to tell you, that’s all in the past for me now. Time to focus on making sure the next vacation is a real, reinvigorating, rocking vacation. Herewith is my advice to myself that I welcome you to take as well. I am not that great at taking my own advice so I'm hoping you do better with it than I do.
1. Chill out. Curb some of those Type-A tendencies. Plan way less, do less. Then, you can enjoy what you do do. (Yup, that's how you get doo doo into a sentence.)
2. Step away from the cell phone. Maybe "forget" the charger? Disconnect and focus on recharging your own battery.
3. No hair and makeup. Liberate yourself from your beauty routine. Just wear a hat. Dark circles under your eyes? A zit that won’t quit? The R&R vacation should help clear those right up. Otherwise you're doing it wrong!
4. Sleep. Period, the end. If you don't have kids, you might not need this advice. If you don't have kids but want them someday or this particular vacation is to make a baby, then this is all you should be doing on vacation because soon you will never be able to get enough sleep. If you have kids and they are with you, you are barely on vacation so sleep when they sleep or get a local babysitter to watch them as much as you can afford to, especially in the mornings -- which you hate -- and then SLEEP IN!
5. Eat delicious food. A vacation is no time for a diet. Eat well, whatever that means to you in the moment. BLT? Ice cream for breakfast? All vegan for a week? Whatever floats your boat!
6. Massage. Or mani/pedi, or facial. Treat yourself and go ALONE!
7. Nature walk. Be outside as much as possible. Take in your surroundings, soak up some vitamin D, teach your kid about the outdoors, whether you're on the beach or the streets of Paris.
8. Read for pleasure. You have a computer, an iPad and a Kindle? Use at least one of these to read something artful, educational and thrilling.
9. Be selfish. Don't let anyone else take these vacation essentials away from you. Don't be a pleaser and don't feel guilty when you choose to sleep/read/pedi instead of going to that stupid museum that your mom/aunt/sister really wants to go to. That's her thing, not yours.
Finally, I’m going to leave you with one final, cribbed-from-JFK thought:
10. Ask not what you can do for your vacation -- ask what your vacation can do for you.
Follow Elizabeth Banks on Twitter at @ElizabethBanks and check out her official Facebook page. And read more from her on ElizabethBanks.com. Click here to read more exclusive posts in the CelebVillage series.