Two weeks. Whether you look at it as 14 days, 336 hours, or 20,160 minutes, it still amounts to the same thing–the average vacation time of the American worker. So how can you make the most of that short span of time away? Or in other words, how can you make two weeks last forever?
The good news is that barring an extreme misfortune, such a goal is very much within reach. It costs nothing aside from a little effort and initiative, and carries the promise of a big payoff in the end. The key lies in four main areas of consideration.
Have A Plan
Yes, something so simple as having a plan can greatly affect the outcome of a trip. That’s not to say that you’re better off with a prison-style regimen. The point is, having a general idea as to what you hope to accomplish is essential to reaching your goals. Even with a knowledgeable travel agent, you should do some investigation yourself. Between the internet and a plethora of guidebooks available, you should have no problem researching your destination. Equipped with a working knowledge of what, where, and how, its time to move on to the next step.
Sadly, many enjoyable details are lost in the frenzy of a vacation. This tragic loss can be greatly reduced with only a little self-discipline and something as simple as a pen and some paper. In addition to taking pictures or video, not to be forgotten is the timeless art of journal writing. Having a firsthand account of each day’s activities will pay rich dividends years later. Write as little or as much as you’d like–just be sure to record the details along with your feelings at the time. Down the road, having those facts along with your photos will help you better recall the experiences.
When traveling, it is important to remember this important fact: The whole reason you left home was to experience something new. While there is a genuine need for common sense and caution, your vacation is not the time to be ultra-conservative. Tourist traps are fine, but the real story of a destination lies behind the souvenir shops. Get out there and mingle with the locals. Try their food if it is safe to do so. It is that kind of cultural immersion that will mean the most to you when all is said and done, and you can’t put a price on the enrichment such interaction will bring to your life.
Reflect And Re-Live
So it’s over now. You’ve traded your swimsuit for a business suit and are headed back to work. But your trip doesn’t have to end there. The beauty of travel is the accumulation of experiences–and experiences, when preserved, are immortal. Don’t just put those photo albums in the closet–keep them handy and go through them often. Personally, I like to review my journal on the “anniversary” of trip. I enjoy the subtle satisfaction of saying: “A year ago today I was in Tahiti. Two years ago Vienna,” and so forth. Doing so keeps the memories alive and gives you the opportunity to savor the flavor again. It also serves to whet your appetite for your next jaunt into the big wide world.
These are just a few ideas as to how to make your vacation last despite the hectic pace of everyday life. Holding on to such experiences will impress them further into your mind and heart, serving to remind you of what it is you’re working for. So the next time you go, remember to formulate your plan, have the courage to explore, document thoroughly, then reflect on the experiences had. Doing so will make those memories eternal—even if they’re acquired only two weeks at a time.