Fun and Free Time on Vacation

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I’m going on vacation with my parents next summer, and I have some mixed emotions about it. I’m excited, of course: we’re going to Hawaii, and that’s something that a poor broke college student like myself could never do on his own. But I’m also apprehensive, because my mom is a planner – a really, really serious planner. She fills every moment of every day of these vacations with one thing or another, and it can be really exhausting.

How can I talk to my mom about slowing her roll? I want to go to Hawaii, but I also want to, you know, actually enjoy the experience!

Vacations are about relaxing and recharging, but travel is about exploration and new experiences. Reconciling the two is the challenge of planning a great vacation, and it sounds as if you and your mother are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to relaxing vs. planning.

First of all, you need to determine what sort of vacation this is. There is, of course, plenty to do at resorts and beaches, say the experts at Tideline Resort. But there’s undeniably a more relaxation-focused vibe at a resort or in a beach house than there is on a European trip.

Your trip to Hawaii may fall somewhere in between. Hawaii’s unique culture and incredible natural scenery make sightseeing and experience-seeking a must, but its beautiful beaches and incredible resorts also make relaxation easy.

So it’s essential that you not cram too much into a vacation like the one you’re taking – in fact, studies show that a vacation crammed with too many activities can actually make you more stressed instead of recharging you! That’s no good, because studies also show that vacations are key to returning to work or school recharged, and you don’t want to miss out on that.

Perhaps you should speak to your mom about the possibility that you sit out a few activities. Or, better yet, offer to help her plan! You don’t have much of a right to complain about the schedule if you don’t lend a hand in making it, so try contributing, and use your role as co-planner to gently raise the possibility of de-stressing the trip. Suggest that you “might need a more time between these two activities” to change, rest, or travel between them. Point out activities that might leave people drained an suggest a “low-key” afternoon or day after them. Position unplanned time as an experience – if you think you’ll spend your free time at the beach, why not tell your mother you want to make it a plan? It’ll suit her scheduling-focused personality while still give you de facto unstructured time.

As for the activities you do schedule, prioritize the ones that really suit the place you’re going to, say the teachers at Ohana Surf Project, a Waikiki-based company that gives surfing lessons. Do things you can’t do at home or at nearby vacation destinations, and experience the unique flavor of the place you’re visiting.

It’s incredibly generous of your parents to take you on such a wonderful trip, and you should of course be grateful and try not to rock the boat too much. But there’s no reason not to be helpful in planning while making some well-intentioned suggestions that could make the vacation more fun for everyone.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai

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