Ah, the joys of summer. Long days, lingering evenings that slowly fade into dusk, allowing you to squeeze every last drop of sunshine and warmth before heading to bed. Summer has so many fond memories associated with it — many carried with us from childhood, etched deep into our memories.
Topping the list of summer glories is the summer vacation. No matter how you approach it, it’s no doubt that there is much expectation and excitement that goes into planning and enjoying this most iconic of traditions.
Whether it’s an annual beach trip, a rugged mountain excursion, or a family road trip complete with cheesy car songs, summer vacation is the epitome of everything we long for throughout the rest of the year — freedom, adventure, new experiences, and memory — making with our favorite people.
As this summer slowly winds down and I find myself enjoying cooler morning breezes and tiny hints of fall, I think back to all the summer memories that our family created together.
This year, we decided to go big. It wasn’t going to be just a quick trip to anywhere. We were going to hit the road, and boy, did we ever. We covered seven states, countless miles and rest stops, beaches, mountains, big cities, and got to spend time with so many great friends. It was epic, to say the least. And with two children under five, many ask how we survived.
But we did it, together, and even in the tough moments I couldn’t help but pinch myself and think: “Is this real life? Why can’t we do this forever?” I found myself trying to savor every moment, to take it all in as much as I could.
When we got back, I promised myself that I would hold on to that “vacation vibe” as long as I could. And the more the weeks passed by, the harder it became.
I slowly began to realize something. Vacation wasn’t necessarily where I was, or who I was with — those things helped of course, but it was so much more about how I chose to experience the world on vacation that made it amazing.
And I wondered, what if I could maintain that outlook in my every day life? Wouldn’t it make things that much more joyful?
In that spirit, here are a few ways that I have found help me to keep my vacation mindset every day:
1. Have something to look forward to.
So much of the beauty of vacation is simply in the anticipation. Like so many good things in life, being able to look forward to it, plan it, and imagine how wonderful it will be brings a great deal of joy.
What can you plan in your daily life, large or small, that you can look forward to and anticipate? Make sure to place some things on your calendar for the future so you can look ahead with excitement and hope.
2. Pay attention.
The unique joy in taking a vacation is the sheer novelty of your experiences. In the midst of our daily routine and well-worn paths, it can be so easy to forget to look up and see the new and unexpected all around us.
You can even play a game as you drive familiar roads — pretend that you’ve never been there before and look around as if you are seeing everything for the first time. What do you notice? Or, you can find new places in your area that you’ve never visited. Everything is more exciting when it feels new.
3. Create memories.
When we are on vacation, we have planned and saved to enjoy special moments with our family and friends — we make it a point to create memories. But this is something we can do every single day.
As a mother, I have learned that some of the sweetest memories can happen in the most mundane of moments. Making memories is about how you experience the moment and file it away in your mind, and that can happen anywhere, anytime.
4. Spend more time with your people.
The one thing that I loved about being on the road and in hotels with my family was that we were together. It definitely got touchy at times, but we worked through it and learned our rhythms, and what we needed.
So many things compete for quality time with our loved ones, but we don’t have to hop on the road to get that special time in — we can choose to turn toward them in small ways every day. It can be as simple as a walk together, a dinner out, or a special day of fun.
5. Live in the moment.
This is the one thing that I found myself doing best when I was on the road. I wasn’t thinking about work, outside commitments, or our agenda for the next day. I was just enjoying the moment.
This can be the most difficult to do when you aren’t on vacation, but it is the most important. Life has much to teach us if we can be still for a bit and listen.
If we’re so busy rushing, planning, and keeping up with others’ expectations, we crowd out the beauty that is right in front of us. Take a deep breath, smile and remember what you are thankful for right now, in your everyday, beautiful life.