Grace Lower | Mar 19, 2018
Spring break is that magical time of year that invites us to shed our bulky jackets and celebrate the warming weather. Before long, hordes of spring breakers will be embarking on cruises, visiting theme parks, and getting back to the great outdoors. As
wonderful as a springtime vacation might sound, without proper planning, a quick trip can go from restful to stressful.
Here are a few simple ways to bring balance to your spring break without sacrificing any of the fun.
For some, cleaning is an excruciating chore. For others (myself included), it’s the ideal stress-buster. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, block off a few hours to deep-clean your home before you leave for your vacation. Not only will you avoid coming home to sticky surfaces and dusty floors, but you’ll appreciate having one less thing on your post-vacation to-do list.
This tip has a few different facets. First, you’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of healthy and portable snacks for your trip. Granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, and crackers are carry-on friendly, and they’ll keep you from splurging on overpriced airport sandwiches. Beyond travel snacks, pick up a few nonperishable basics like beans, rice, pasta, and frozen produce. These items won’t be for your backpack; they’ll be for your kitchen. Coming back home from a vacation is hard enough without also dealing with a woefully empty pantry. Be kind to your future self and plan ahead—you’ll appreciate coming home to a well-stocked kitchen.
It’s all too easy to lose momentum on the days leading up to spring break. Homework and projects feel torturous when you’d rather be daydreaming about a tropical destination. Don’t let yourself fall into a pre-vacation slump. Make it your goal to get as much done as you can before your trip. Then, think about how you can organize yourself so that when you return from your vacation, you can hit the ground running. Finally, don’t forget to turn on the out of office message for your email—even if you’re a student, it’ll let people know that you’ll be a little harder to reach.
It doesn’t matter if you’re headed for a perpetually sunny destination: keep an eye on the weather before you go. Springtime temperatures can be unpredictable, and the last thing you want is to be shivering in your sarong. To be safe, pack a few warm layers that you can throw on top of your vacation outfits, bring a waterproof jacket, and throw a pair of closed-toed shoes in your carry-on before you go.
You might be one of those travelers who thrives under a down-to-the-minute schedule. Or, if you prefer spontaneity, you might leave each day of your vacation completely open. I’ve found that the best trips balance the two approaches. Rather than crafting the perfect schedule—or lack thereof—come up with a goal or two for each day of your vacation. It could be something as simple as capturing a great family picture, or as ambitious as learning how to windsurf. Goals will give your vacation structure while still giving you plenty of time to relax and take it all in.
Depending on your destination, late, boisterous nights can be part of a memorable spring break. To ensure that your vacation is as refreshing as it is fun, make sure to prioritize sleep along the way. Give yourself permission to sleep in on a few mornings, or take an afternoon snooze under a big umbrella. With enough rest, you’ll have the energy you need to fuel your sense of adventure.
Like it or not, healthy eating is back. It’s not uncommon to see menus boasting quinoa, acai bowls, and whatever the heck a “superfood” is. Regardless of whether you put stock in the latest health food crazes, the prevalence of fresh, nutrient-dense snacks makes it easy to eat well while you travel. You may as well make the most of it! It doesn’t need to be anything extreme: if you start off your morning with an all-you-can-eat brunch, for instance, try replacing your afternoon ice cream with a fresh smoothie. The occasional healthy swap will keep you looking and feeling your best throughout your vacation.
No matter how relaxed your vacation might be, make sure to take a moment to appreciate your experience. It’s easy to get caught up in activities without realizing their bigger impact. If you’re traveling with family, think about what you’ve learned about them. If you’re with your friends, consider how your relationships have grown and changed. And if you’re traveling solo, think about what new perspectives you’ve gained. Meaningful pauses will help you practice gratitude and reflect on how your travels have changed you for the better.
There’s nothing wrong with occasionally checking your inbox or posting a picture to Instagram when you’re on vacation. When your technology becomes a distraction, however, you’re forgoing the benefits of your vacation. Try to limit your screen time to once or twice a day. If you’re on vacation, your followers, colleagues, and newsfeed shouldn’t be a priority.
It’s always hard to leave your destination, but if you can, try to schedule your departure one day early. The extra day of vacation can be used as a catch-up day before you head back to work or school. You’ll have time to unpack your bags, get started on laundry, and enjoy a little extra relaxation before diving back into your work.
When you get back home—hopefully to a clean house and a stocked pantry, if you followed the tips from the beginning of this article—spend some time preparing for the coming week. Check your emails and make sure you’re ready for any big tasks in the coming days. Plan your meals and your outfits. Run any last-minute errands. Prepping will make the transition from vacation-mode to work-mode a little less abrupt.
Getting back to class, or back into the office, can feel especially painful after an amazing spring break—but there’s nothing stopping you from incorporating a bit of your vacation self into your work life. It can be as simple as treating yourself to a lunch out or a midday ice cream, or spending more time in the fresh air. Breaks are about taking care of yourself and seeking out activities that bring you joy—why not prioritize that year-round?
Grace Lower is a recent college graduate with a love for writing and an incurable case of wanderlust. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.