How To Truly Relax While Traveling

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How many times have you returned home from a fantastic vacation, only to hear yourself telling someone that you're so exhausted you need another one to recover? The pace of modern life is making it increasingly difficult for us to switch off, and time away from home can end up being just as stressful, albeit more fun, than our everyday lives. Read on for some tips on how to really unwind on your vacation. 

Limit Your Technology
This tip is perhaps the most important, the most obvious, and the most difficult to actually achieve. But seriously: tuning out distractions in the form of technology is a huge part of being able to relax while you're away from home. 

Turn off data roaming and/or push notifications on your phone. Don't check your email (or, if that's as unreasonable for you as it is for me, check it once a day at a predetermined time only). Purposely stay somewhere without a TV or radio — seriously, if something big happens in the world, you'll find out sooner or later anyway. 

(Maybe) Don't Bring A Camera
As someone who is known among friends for near-obnoxious levels of Instagramming when on vacation, I definitely understand the instinct to capture all the exciting sights around you for posterity. Sometimes, however, we get so focused on capturing what's happening around us that we forget to fully experience it; hardly a recipe for relaxation. Photos get damaged, deleted or lost in the archives of Facebook, but memories last forever. Make sure yours are made with all your senses, not just your viewfinder.

Don't Over-Schedule Yourself
When I'm planning for a holiday, I want to do all of the research, see all of the sights, eat in all of the restaurants, have all of the fun… I think you can see where I'm going with this. Traveling as a Type A planner can get real old, real fast. You only have so much time in any given place, and by prioritizing what you want to see and do, you'll buy yourself more time to actually enjoy it. 

In fact, scheduling time to relax might be just the ticket. I'm heading to Rome with a friend in a couple weeks' time, and I'm trying a new travel tactic. Since the city is going to be hot as Hades during the day, and since I'm not exactly a fan of soaring temperatures, we've only (loosely) planned our morning and evening activities, while the afternoons will be solely devoted to lounging poolside at our rental property (chosen specifically for this reason, naturally). If we don't get to see everything we'd like to? Well, I'm pretty sure Rome will still be there next time. 

Choose Like-minded Travel Mates
Some people, no matter how much love lies between them, were just not made to travel together. Finding a travel partner who enjoys a similar pace as you, whether it's that of an Energizer Bunny or a turtle, is key to avoiding disagreements that can lead to stressful situations.

For a really relaxing holiday, consider ditching the companions altogether and going it alone. Last month, a bout of gastroenteritis turned my planned girlfriends-in-Paris weekend into a solo venture, and, aside from feeling a tad guilty about my sick friend, I had an terrific time. When you travel alone, you're free to do exactly as you like on your schedule, whether that's a full day of museum-hopping or sleeping in until noon, followed by a leisurely stroll along the Seine. 

Consider a Staycation
Apparently studies have shown that we sleep fewer hours per night while traveling, whether due to jet lag, busy sightseeing schedules, or just being in an unfamiliar setting. Sleep deprivation is hardly relaxing, so taking the holiday to your own home (and bed) could be a way to beat this. 

Keep in mind, however, that in order to be truly relaxing, a staycation should still be a vacation, of sorts. No making endless lists of home improvements or using this time to "catch up" on work or even social engagements. Sleep in. See a movie. Try that new restaurant... 

Go Somewhere You Know Well
If you're not quite ready to holiday at home, consider traveling somewhere you've enjoyed before. Familiarity breeds tranquility, and when you know a place well, you're less likely to overextend yourself or become flustered by day-to-day travel problems. My most relaxing holiday destination? Perhaps ironically, it's New York City: after having visited my best friends there for nearly seven years, I no longer feel the need to sightsee compulsively, so it's all leisurely brunches, walks around town and picnics in Central Park. 

Buffer Your Vacation
Let's be honest: flying home from paradise on a Sunday evening and showing up to work at 9am the next morning is pretty much the Worst. If you possibly can, try taking an extra day off before and/or after your holiday to be at home. This gives you time to do all those un-fun, post-holiday tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, and finishing the book you started on the return flight. 

So, over to you: do you find it hard to really relax on holiday? What tips and tricks do you use to switch off?

(Image: Chris Perez / Kimber's Modern Home Elegance House Tour)