Monday, December 19, 2005

New Year's Resolution: Take a long vacation

Impossibly busy? Taking time off is not just good for you, but can reduce stress and even change your life!

“Every year, we go through the same old tired set of ideas –weight, diet, the relatives, our boss, our golf game, our spouse, even our kids – everyone gets a piece of our best intentions. But at some point don’t you just want to scream, ‘But what about making ME happier?’” laughs Carol White, co-author, along with her husband Phil, of Live Your Road Trip Dream (RLI Press Well, how about a vacation?

Phil goes on to say, “Most resolutions are ‘defect’ driven. Think about it – fix your weight, spend more time with the kids, start a workout program – all things that are ‘wrong’ with you. You are depressed before you start”. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Phil and Carol White have the perfect idea. Grab your partner, and the kids (if they’re still at home), and go see the United States. For a long time. Not just your annual vacation, they mean a real trip – a journey and a life-altering experience. Seem impossible? It’s not. In fact technology makes these trips even more possible than ever.

The Whites know more than just a little bit about how to do this and how life-changing it can be. They ventured into all 48 of the contiguous states, saw all the National Parks and along the way had the experience of a lifetime. They now spend their days encouraging others to make their own dream happen. “Some people say ‘Wow, I could never take a year off!’”, says co-author Carol White, “but that’s not really what this is about. Whether it is a road trip, a sailboat trip, or a trek for an extended period, the planning is the same and the rewards are often a changed outlook, less stress and some amazing memories that will last a lifetime.”

Now you are thinking, “Easy for them to say, they are retired, but I’m still slogging away making a living.” That’s even more reason to consider the possibilities. Along their way in their nineteen foot camping van, they saw many families and young couples and talked to them about mid-life journeys. The ways of actually hitting the road were as varied as the people themselves, but the bottom line was, they all wanted a new experience in their lives and were willing to be creative in making the changes necessary to allow it to happen.

The Whites have many tips and hints for would-be road trippers, but here are five to help you get your New Year’s resolutions off on a more positive note this year.

· Decide how you might pay for such an adventure and start implementing your plan. You can do it for the same cost as staying at home, but you just have to get rid of those expenses at home.
· Set a date when you will leave. Up until that time it is all just talk. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things will start falling in place to make your dream a reality.
· Enlist the help of family and friends to make the trip more meaningful. Give them “assignments”. Most of us have obligations that we have to figure out how to manage while we are gone. Grown children, business and social friends, church and community groups are all sources of help and excitement in planning your adventure.
· Pick a theme or set of ideas to guide your trip. Make sure that everyone who is going has an idea of what they want to see during the journey. If you have school-age children, you will be home-schooling them for the duration of your trip, so plan “lessons” that will cover their needs – reading, history, spelling, math, science and more can all be woven into your everyday activities – and it will be a time of learning that they will never forget.
· Don’t over plan your trip. When you go on a two-week vacation, you tend to plan your every move to maximize your time. When you go on a long trip – say a month or more, you can’t possibly plan your every move, nor would you want to. The joy of exploration and the unfolding of adventures is the most important part of the experience.

So instead of those same tired old resolutions, why not plan to change your lives – even for a short while in the scope of life, and see if some of those other “defects” don’t just take care of themselves.

Now that’s a resolution worth working on.

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