Vacation Mentality...simply clearing a path to enjoy your daily travels

Have you ever wished that everyday could be a vacation day? What if that that sense of calm and relaxation could become more of a daily experience? I know I would say, "Yes, please!"

A recent conversation with a customer had me thinking about vacation mentality. She fell in love with a dress at the store where I work part-time. I could see it in her eyes! When I offered to take it to the fitting room, she declined the offer saying that she would buy it in a heartbeat if she was shopping for vacation because it was "truly the perfect dress." Cut, color, quality, comfort were all 10 out of 10. 

She continued to say that she would never spend that much money on herself for everyday use even though she admitted that she could picture herself wearing it for different events and activities and could see the styling options that made it a versatile garment. 

I couldn't stop thinking about this. Some of my favorite outfits and go to pieces in my wardrobe are garments that I have chosen for vacations and travel. They are comfortable, fit well, are versatile, and are a breeze to launder. And, yes!  I do wear them frequently! The cost per wear makes them the best values in my closet! Even the plaid rain boots that I bought for a trip to Ireland, although rarely worn in southern California, add a little whimsy on those rare wet days. 

This train of thought led me to ask myself, "What if we approached daily life from a vacation mentality?"

Hear me out. I'm not suggesting that we stop working or cleaning or preparing food at home. But what if we were to streamline our decisions as if we were packing and planning for travel? Would this be the start of a shift toward more enjoyment in daily living by living with a little less?

Del Mar Beach, California

Del Mar Beach, California

I propose that we test out my theory with a three practical steps that will clear the path to finding more joy and contentment in your daily routine. 

1. Clear the clutter in your handbags, briefcases, backpacks, cars, trunks, night stands and keep only what you really need and use in those places. These are hot spots that grow if untended and can weigh you down and spoil the ease of movement that is otherwise possible. Think back to the last time you traveled. Carry just what you need.

As for me, my car console looks something like this: sunscreen, phone charging cable, a non-perishable snack, water bottles, a book, and a few quarters for the rare parking meter that still requires your pocket change.

My handbag ritual looks like this: I remove receipts and take them to my desk, add one lipstick to suit the mood of the day, sunglasses, a small Emory board, cell phone, wallet, Advil, and an epi pen (bee stings).  Years of schlepping too much has led to neck strain and I am proud to say that I have finally learned my lesson. I now carry a smaller, light weight bag and love the freedom this allows.

All summer long I keep beach chairs, towels, sunscreen, a sunhat, and flip flops in the trunk of my car for impromptu stops at the beach. Yes! I live minutes away from the ocean and have found a favorite stretch of sand where I sit and listen to the waves even if only for 30 minutes.

2. Review and purge your clothing. There are many books and articles explaining the benefits of a limited, capsule wardrobe.  I personally like clothes and costuming too much to limit myself solely to 20 or so garments. Although if I'm being completely honest, I wear the same 20 pieces mixed and matched 80% of the time. I suspect this is true for most of us.

Wear colors that look good on you and make you feel like a million bucks! Keep pieces that work well together and give you options for styling. Remove the items that no longer fit, that are worn and damaged, that you no longer like, that you haven't worn for a year or more, and move seasonal clothing to garment bags or to the sides of your closet making your "capsule" more accessible.

When you have a few minutes and the inclination, play a little with accessorizing so that when you are rushing off to an event, you can leave with confidence knowing that you look put together. Those predetermined, go-to outfits are a God-send on tightly scheduled days.

Once you clear the clutter from your closet, notice what is missing to complete outfits and if it's in your budget, go shopping for those pieces, just like you would if you were preparing to leave on holiday. You will be less distracted by things you do not need with a clear agenda for shopping. Vacation mentality!

3. Savor what is special to you by using it every day. Keep only what you truly love, that you need and use, and that makes you happy whether they are photographs, seashells collected from a special trip, your expansive collection of books (I get it), or what ever "sparks joy" for you.

Do you still use your chipped old dishes and keep your favorites for company? Why not use your favorites everyday to make every meal special?

Why not take your coffee in your favorite travel mug to your favorite park or beach and savor a few minutes rather than rush off to the next task? Isn't that what we do on vacation?! This simple pause in the day can be just the mental rest that you need.

Removing the unnecessary leaves you with what you do need, want, and love, front and center and visible in your life. Just like when you go on vacation, you are free to cherish the day and get on with whatever you have planned.












Travel planning off the beaten path...The Who, what, where, when, and why of it all.

I have traveled alone and with friends, with my husband, and later, my ex-husband & kids (yes, really!), pregnant, and solo with my children at every stage from infancy to adulthood.  What I know for certain is that each trip brought happy moments, adventures, and, yes, challenges to finding joy. Such memories!

Being the resourceful (stubborn) woman that I am, although I find anticipatory planning is critical to my comfort, I also find it equally important to be adaptable and find ways to enjoy and cherish my travels along the way. On those rare trips where the challenges overwhelmed me, I learned valuable insight into what I truly need to be happy when I travel. I would encourage you to search your heart for the same discoveries. It will make your travels all the richer for it.

No matter who I travel with, where I go, or what hiccups we meet along the way, I have noticed a few common threads that have made it easiest to relax, immerse myself in the present moment, and to return home refreshed. 

1. Know why you are traveling.

Sounds simple enough. But honestly, you are setting yourself up for anxiety and conflict if you cannot answer this simple question: "Why am I going?" Following someone else's list of "must sees" can be a recipe for disaster. If you are fan of art, then entering 30 art museums may be your version of paradise.

If you become bored after the fifth Monet then daily visits to art museums does not belong on your list. If seeing sculpture but no paintings is what makes your heart sing, then skip the sections of the museum that do not interest you. There is no one right way, just your way! It is YOUR vacation. So honor your own agenda.

Before leaving for my recent travels to Ireland, someone asked me "Why Ireland?" My initial, silent response, was "Are you kidding??" But it is a fair question. We are all drawn to different places and experiences.

Ireland is one of the most beautiful and inviting places that I have visited.  The Irish exude a fierce pride in their hard fought independence and anguish over memories of centuries old losses. Yet the Irish are some of the most genuine, and generous people I have ever met.

Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland 

Keem Beach, Achill Island, Ireland 

I was traveling with my son, cameras in hand. We agreed that our focus would be seeking local lore, megalithic tombs,  ancient fortresses, and majestic coastal views. Ireland was the perfect place to venture with these purposes in our hearts. We have family history and living relatives there, connections that called us to explore for ourselves. It is liberating to let go of someone else's to-do list and to focus upon what makes your own heart sing! 

2.Keep it simple, Take Time to linger- WHAT YOU DO MATTERS

Again this seems obvious, but an overly ambitious itinerary doesn't leave time to savor unexpected discoveries. I had booked two nights on a working farm near Kilkenny, called Lawcus Farms. It had wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor; but they honestly didn't come close to describing the magical essence of the place. I felt an immediate ease and sense of calm upon entering this beautiful place and as if I was leaving family after only two days with Ann-Marie and Mark. We came home with much more than beautiful photographs, in part because we did not hold tightly to a prescribed itinerary. We allowed time to linger.

Lawcus Farm, Stoneford, near Kilkenny. There is a mixture of humor, history, and sentiment in this home. I was deeply moved by a personal photograph in their kitchen with this inscription, "if it is meant to be, it will not pass you..." Lovely.

Lawcus Farm, Stoneford, near Kilkenny. There is a mixture of humor, history, and sentiment in this home. I was deeply moved by a personal photograph in their kitchen with this inscription, "if it is meant to be, it will not pass you..." Lovely.

3.Travel off season WHEN you have a choice.

If you have had the luxury of traveling off season when places are less crowded, then you know how wonderful travel can really be. It is easier to find lodging, the lines are shorter, and wait times for entering points of interest are almost nil.

Knowing that you can change your plan without consequence is attractive to many people. Booking lodgings as you go can be freeing, and safely done off season. That said,  I have found that knowing where I am staying each night allows me to relax and enjoy the daily excursions. Even traveling off season, having my lodging arrangements in place gives me a framework for my travels and the peace of mind to become immersed in the moments. 

After a long day of explorations and driving on some of the tiniest roads known to man, (okay I haven't been on every road known to man, so this COULD be an exaggeration), we arrived in Strandhill, Sligo. There are no street lights and very few signs to guide you. But I had booked a bed and breakfast inn ahead of time. All I had to do was find the white house with the dormer windows, IN THE DARK, on a country road barely wide enough for two cars. Yup! 

Needless to say, I phoned the inn and spoke with the couple who run it. I was asked what landmarks I could see...really!! It was pitch black but I finally passed a pub, clearly marked, and shortly after, the church where he asked me to stop and wait. Five minutes later he drove up, flashed his lights and escorted us to our destination..white house, dormer windows, warm welcome! 

Megalithic tomb, Carrowmore, Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland                       

Megalithic tomb, Carrowmore, Strandhill, Sligo, Ireland                       


4.Know WHERE TO STAY-When in doubt, find a Bed and  Breakfast Inn

I highly recommend Bed and Breakfast Inns when traveling, especially when journeying to a foreign country. The proprietors know the local lore and sites and will recommend good restaurants and alternate routes that take you past incredible sites that are not always found in your typical guidebooks. You are guaranteed a warm, hearty breakfast, interesting conversation, and a warm welcome upon your return from your day's adventures.

One of the locals at Park South Bed and Breakfast Inn, Mallow, Cork

One of the locals at Park South Bed and Breakfast Inn, Mallow, Cork

Choosing places where my own family have stayed in the past made sense as I was making reservations. Having a trusted advisor recommend a place so far from home was reassuring. And, we were greeted like old friends. Charming!

5.know who you are with and your own limitations

No matter how much you enjoy the person with whom you are traveling, travel requires patience, consideration, give and take, and a good sense of humor. Having open communication and a willingness to compromise are critical. Discuss ahead of time with your travel mates their most important agenda items. 

Know each person's requirements for privacy, and factor those things into your itinerary as well. It is up to you do your own homework regarding dietary restrictions and medications before you leave for your destination so that it doesn't weigh heavily upon everyone else.

At the same time, know that unforeseen illnesses and injuries are a part of daily life no matter where you are. Be prepared to slow down if need be and accept this change as an opportunity to linger or read that book that is at the bottom of your suitcase.

Finally, remember that you are a guest whenever you travel. Be grateful for the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and know that please and thank you are welcome sounds in any language! 







Happy Trails To You...My Top 5 Travel Tips

It's summer time, and if you haven't taken your annual holiday, then you may be embarking upon an adventure soon. This year I will be savoring a stay-cation. San Diego is one of my favorite destinations. And it makes sense for my family this year. But, whether traveling a long distance or close to home, it is the  planning, preparation, and anticipation prior to leaving that jump start my adventure and influence my joy while traveling. Here are some of my favorite organizing pearls of wisdom:

  1. Check the weather forecast.

Taking items of clothing for comfort is crucial to your enjoyment. Taking a sweatshirt or sweater along just in case is never amiss. Even if the only chill you feel is on the plane ride, you will be glad to have a cozy sweater or wrap for that leg of the journey.  Bringing a travel size umbrella if there is a chance of rain and a sweater and light-weight wind breaker for when the air temperature changes add layers that can be easily added or subtracted and are simple tools for success.

 2. Take only clothing that mix and match well.

Taking basics streamlines your packing, keeps your suitcase lighter, and makes getting ready for your daily adventures a piece of cake! Putting outfits together that you love and make you feel like a million bucks will give you that glow every day. There is a reason we call them comfort clothes. It IS possible to feel comfortable and to look put together. Taking accessories to change the look of your outfits, takes up little space in your luggage, and is a simple way to add a pop of color and a fresh look. You may even come home with some new ideas after wearing your basics for a week.

3. Know events and activities that you expect to enjoy.

A pair of comfortable walking shoes is a must have no matter where you are going. If acknowledging your penchant for horse back riding means that you will pack your short boots because you love your experience all the more for it, then by all means make room in your suit case for boots. If you will be attending a wedding while on vacation, be sure that you include accessories and lingerie to make you look and feel your best. If water sports are on the agenda, it is likely that all the gear will be available for rent. Consider renting your gear rather than hauling it through the airports and leave room in your luggage for something else. If you are traveling by car, then you have the luxury of taking boogie boards and fins. Remember that the less time you spend packing and unpacking the more time you will have for fun and frolic!

4. Take only what you need.

Toiletries can really add weight to your luggage and there is the obvious risk of spillage if you overload your luggage. Taking only what you need limits your daily routine and adds to your sense of vacation freedom. Be sure that in your haste to limit what stays and what goes, that you remember to take sunscreen and prescription medications. While it is not impossible to obtain replacement items, taking what you need limits the time spent chasing around town for the all night pharmacy or suffering from a bad sunburn, which we all know can make even our most comfortable clothing feel like sand paper. Knowing that you have access to a washer and dryer makes taking less a no brainer. It is a simple task to start a load of laundry to freshen up clothing items mid-vacation.

5. Use a list.

I cannot stress the importance of making a list and using it to keep you organized. It reduces the fear of forgetting the obvious items that you cannot live without. It keeps you honest about what you really need. And, it is an obvious safety net as you are checking one last time before you leave. I suggest you make a list that you keep in your computer and then tweak it before each trip. What you take with you will vary depending upon your mode of transportation, your destination, and the length of stay.

No matter where you are going,  your preparation time before leaving will be time well spent. Happy travels!!