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10 Vacation Tips to Improve Your Time Off

Don't Rush To The Airport Straight From Work
Everyone wants to start their vacations as soon as possible, but rushing to the airport straight from the office on Friday afternoon is a recipe for stress. Scrambling to finish up at work and trying to make your flight in spite of rush-hour traffic will increase your anxiety just as you're supposed to be starting to relax.

Take More Than A Three-Day Weekend
While a three-day weekend might be enough time for some to completely unwind, for many it's just not enough. Will you be able to relax during a trip if you're traveling two out of your three days off? Think about what it's going to take to get your mind out of the office and away from the stress of your daily life and plan accordingly.

Don't Feel You Have To Travel Far
Taking a great vacation doesn't have to involve a long plane ride to an exotic beach or a hike to a mountain top, especially if you don't have a lot of time or money. Just spending a few days relaxing in your backyard can have a big impact on your physical and mental health, experts say.

Timing Is Everything
If you don't feel like you can leave work behind while you're away, it might not be the best time to go on a vacation. When you're planning your trips, take a hard look at your calendar and try to determine your least busy weeks. If a major project is due or presentation is scheduled while you're gone, it's going to be that much more difficult to relax.

Leave Work At Work
You already know this, but experts say it bears repeating. Don't check your office messages or e-mail while you're on vacation. Don't bring your laptop to the beach. And, if you can stand it, turn off your cellphone and avoid the news. Treat this time as your own.

Make Time To Unwind
Visiting every museum and historical monument in your guide book can be fun, but remember, the purpose of a vacation is to relax. Don't fill your days so full of events that you end up being more worried about keeping plans than having a good time.

Prepare For Kids' Wants
Traveling with children is never easy, especially when they want everything they see--from T-shirts to key chains to stuffed toy souvenirs. Dr. Edythe Harvey, a psychiatrist, suggests coming up with a way for your kids to earn their spending money before a trip, such as having them gather spare coins from around the house. When they want something, they can decide whether or not they want to buy it.

Don't Overdo It
Enjoy some great food and a few glasses of wine during your trip. But experts say don't overdo it. You could end up feeling lousy during your getaway or even gain weight. No one wants to come back from a vacation feeling like they have to start a diet.

Allow Proper Time For Your Return
Build in some extra time on the tail end of your vacation. This will prevent extra stress if a flight is cancelled or you encounter traffic delays. A day at home before returning to work also gives you time to rest, unpack, open the mail, hit the grocery store and generally wind down from your trip.

Remember, You Deserve A Break
Sure, there are projects and meetings that will be affected by the fact that you're taking a break. But you need a vacation--so stop feeling guilty about taking one. Take a cue from the Europeans, who tend to take twice as much vacation time per year as Americans, according to an study. Use your time off to give your mind and body a rest, and you will be in better shape, physically and mentally, when you return.


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