Top Tips for Getting Away From It All, Without Actually Getting Away

I have just booked a holiday, the kind of holiday I have never booked before… an all inclusive week long spa break. I have almost always gone away in search of something; adventure, creativity, exploration (of self and the world), romance, culture, learning… but now I know all this is available on my own doorstep I feel less of a need for a holiday and strangely, I feel like I need to need this kind of holiday!

This got me thinking and in a recent survey I did in my own head, it seems that many people reach a certain point, let’s call it a breaking point, and decide they need a holiday. The ten main reasons for going on holiday, according to the aforementioned survey, were as follows;

1) Need to get away from work/life stress

2) To relax

3) To get quality time with loved ones

4) Habit – “we always get away at this time of year.”

5) A break from the norm

6) A new experience/different culture

7) To have some fun – nightlife, a sporting event, or just an adventure.

8) To get some sun/a tan (so that you can feel happy/look healthy)

9) It’s on my bucket list – “I’ve always wanted to go there.”

10) Facebook is showing that everyone else is doing it and I need some new pics to get everyone jealous.

The funny thing about holidays is that sometimes booking them seems to add stress. For example, people often book their two week break, and then spend months telling others (before and after) that they can’t afford anything else because they have just paid for/been on their holidays (which of course must include a whole new wardrobe and toiletry stock up). There are also those that worry about their work, either before they go, desperately trying to tie up ALL lose ends (they can’t possibly delegate), or whilst away, or when they come back to hundreds of emails. This kind of thinking is what makes some believe they can’t take a break at all.

So how can you get the same results that a holiday gives you, without actually going on holiday?

Here are my top tips for getting away from it all, without actually getting away:

1) Make the most of your free time – don’t just come home on a Friday night and eat dinner in front of the TV. Plan a date night; a quick drink after work or a dinner date does not cut into your chill out time, it’s part of it!

2) Schedule in a couple of hours at the weekend or an evening in the week to do something for you. Get creative, read a book quietly in a cafe, or simply sit in a warm bath. Make sure other people are aware this is happening and it’s for you… not to get away from them, but to reconnect with yourself. Equally, schedule in quality time with loved ones – a lift to football practice or food shopping with your partner does not count!

3) Think good thoughts and you really don’t notice the rain… and share that with others, smile at strangers.

4) Have a themed night in. Mexico, Italy, France, Asia..get everyone to bring a dish using unusual fruit and veg, get dressed up, find some tunes, decorate the dining room, rent a relevant movie… bring the culture to you.

5) Once a month turn a weekend into an adventure – jump on a random bus, stick your finger on a map, make a list of places you want to go and can get to, put the ideas in a hat and pick one, or simply take a walk and get off the beaten track. The key here is to be excited about what you might discover.

6) Have a night out with the girls – slap on some fake tan and bust out the summer time tunes as you get glammed up.

7) Focus on what you have got – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, grateful people are so much happier than those always chasing something else. Write a gratitude dairy every couple of days and reflect when needed.

8) Relax – meditate, swim, do a yoga/mindfulness class, have a lay in… whatever works for you, do it… and do it often.

9) Really look at things around you in wonder – see things differently and you will find many wonders already in your world.

10) Be silly – letting your hair down isn’t just for children or when alcohol is involved. Go dance in the kitchen and sing in the street!

BONUS TIP – Love what you do. (And if you don’t love what you do, get a coach. OK, so I’m biased, but some of the most successful people I know have had help to unpack their suitcase full of overwhelm and feel free without having to take flight.)

The U.S. Virgin Islands Surprise Tips

It’s been a long time since I mentioned my beloved U. S. Virgin Islands. Here are some tips that I’ve learned through the years of visiting there. It must be special there, or I wouldn’t have been there sixteen times so far.

Did you know it’s actually illegal to wear your bathing suit away from the pool or beach in the Virgin Islands? Plus, with the extensive jewelry shops in downtown Charlotte Amalie, nobody would want to see your bikini anyway. They just don’t go well with that million dollar ring. Also, you don’t want to wear your bathing suit when you go out to eat, unless it’s your hotel’s pool bar.

Hey, at least they take American money and don’t have outrageous tips, although they might be included, so do be aware of it. There are hotel fees, though.

When you do go out, though, make sure to drive on the left. They’ve always driven on the left, ever since the trading days of yesteryear. Also, make sure to drive your seat belts, when you’re in the front seats anyway. Don’t use a cell phone while you drive, though. That is against the law, unless you have an earpiece with it.

When you do decide to go out to eat, there is nearly every type of restaurant imaginable. From formal tablecloth-laden tables, to fast food joints, to just the normal, every restaurants, to basically bars that serve some food too. My personal favourite is still Agave Terrace, at Point Pleasant resort on St. Thomas’s north side. It’s reasonably formal, and very attractive, but you can get away with not wearing jackets and ties as you sup on some slightly expensive meal options. Still, it’s delectable! Other than the usual staples you find most places, and the expected tropical fruits, the Virgin Islands also has some really great local foods, such as “rice and peas”, which is actually lentils or kidney beans, funghi, which is a tasty corn meal ball, johnnycakes, which is like our doughboys, and pate, which is also like a doughboy that’s stuffed with beef, chicken, or sometimes cod fish. OK, that last bit doesn’t sound so great to me. Then, there is always conch. That’s the meat of that shell you can hold up to your ear to hear the ocean.

One problem that many people have at least at the first visit to the islands is that the sun is considerably stronger than expected. Even on mostly cloudy days, or with cooling tradewinds, it is still vitally important to use effective sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses as often as possible. You do not want to mess up your vacation with a terrible sunburn.