Since the start of COVID-19, going on a vacation became pretty much impossible. Staycation, although not a new idea, suddenly became popular. A staycation is a holiday taken at home, instead of traveling to another place. A number of people see staycations as an easy way to take a break when travel is not possible or convenient. Staycations are also affordable. Holidaying at home is less expensive than staying at a hotel. A staycation can be a great time to pursue a new hobby or rediscover an old one such as painting, writing, pottery, or reading a book.
Why staycations don’t work
There is a whole world to see out there. It is easy to get stuck in a routine and lose sight of all other possibilities. A staycation can easily become another dull week of repetitive tasks and responsibilities. For those who equate the familiar with ‘boring’, a staycation is really not a good option.
The better alternative
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has some interesting insights that apply to vacation time. We are more likely to be satisfied with our lives if we are more active with our leisure time. The brain demands the occasional period of relaxation and release. Taking an opportunity to de-stress and spend time with loved ones can lower the risk of a heart attack. America is home to millions of migrant professionals. In addition to the usual pressures at work, they cope with living away from their families. Migrants regularly send money online to support their families back home with remittances. These expat workers often find creative ways to beat stress.
A 2017 study by the American Psychological Association found that vacations reduce stress because they remove us from the environments we associate with stress. Those of us who go on vacations and take the time to relax are less likely to experience burnout. For the same reasons, vacations make us more creative and productive. A Cornell University study found that the anticipation of a (holiday) trip can increase happiness substantially; more than the anticipation of acquiring something tangible.
The right kind of break
The point of a vacation is to have a change of environment. A vacation must provide an opportunity to see and experience new things like sights, sounds, foods, and more. There must also be a strong component of rest and relaxation. Working from another location does not constitute a vacation. There must be time dedicated to things we truly enjoy. To that end we must plan our vacations. Planning for the perfect holiday activities is often easier and cheaper than aspiring for the ideal location. The idea is to divert the mind away from our day-to-day responsibilities. According to Forbes, traveling promotes happiness. Taking time out to travel eventually leads to lower cortisol levels. It makes us feel calmer and more content.
Benefits of a (real) vacation
A 2013 study published in the LA Times found that more than 80% of Americans noticed significant drops in stress after merely a day or two of traveling. Women who vacationed twice a year had significantly lower chances of developing coronary heart disease compared with women who vacationed less frequently. Solo travel expert and founder of ‘Trusted Travel Girl’ Valerie Wilson says that traveling to a foreign country can help re-evaluate and reinvent your life. Travel has the ability to expand the mind.
Forbes says that exploring new places can give us a fresh start, especially when recovering from a major transition in life. Going to live somewhere else for a while can help us toughen up mentally and emotionally. Adapting to a new place can make us feel excited and intimidated at the same time. At the same time facing difficulties in an unfamiliar environment and among new people forces us to learn. That helps us out of our comfort zones, making us more flexible, patient, and emotionally strong.
Now that travel is possible again, we can plan some real vacations. One amazing place to visit is Hawaii, with its beautiful beaches, great scenery, good food, lots of culture, and endless fun. Another relaxing vacation spot is Puerto Rico. It is a rare combination of diverse culture, heritage, people, and beautiful landscapes. Costa Rica is the perfect destination for lovers of the underwater realm.
Understandably some of us have a hectic schedule. As much as we would like, it is difficult to enjoy the benefits of a longer vacation. In such situations we may need to start small. Begin with an initial 2-day vacation goal and work towards a more reasonable vacation span.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.