I knew it was time to change into my shorts and tank top and get my butt downstairs. I could smell the amazing Caribbean-style dinner cooking, and I heard Bob Marley and his reggae vibe blasting through our speakers.
Our vacation kick-off party was getting underway! This “party” is a ritual of ours before going on vacation. Bill and I have a Caribbean cruise planned this winter, and several weeks out we like to get the excitement started. This usually includes looking at pictures from past cruises and vacations, going through travel documents, playing our favorite warm-weather music, and most importantly – setting our intention for the upcoming trip and discussing what we each want from it.
The evening of fanfare sets the stage for the two of us to get completely jazzed and fired-up for the upcoming trip!
We’ve been doing this now since our honeymoon cruise in 1994, due to important lessons we learned back then. While our newlywed time together was wonderful, something about the trip wasn’t quite right. We felt pulled in several different directions. We hadn’t really talked much about the trip ahead of time (who’s got time to talk when they’re planning a wedding?), so when we suddenly found ourselves on the cruise, we weren’t sure where to focus our attention and how to spend our week.
Did we want relaxation? Adventure? What about all those tours? Unfortunately, the confusion led to some disappointment during a time we hoped would be perfect. We ended up returning home feeling exhausted and not completely satisfied with how the trip had unfolded.
Deciding to make a change
But because of our love of vacations and commitment to a lifetime of travels, we declared from that point forward things would be different. We agreed to put serious, thoughtful effort into each future vacation to help create the ultimate experience. After all, vacations are one of the things that bring us great joy – why not make them the best they can be?
Over the years, we’ve developed a pretty cool step-by-step process to help us maximize our vacations. And we’ve shared this with audiences by leading workshops and speaking to groups. We’ve facilitated discussions in the living rooms of families and couples traveling together. And it’s been fun to be featured on local radio and TV.
The feedback has been incredible. In fact, one repeat participant in our workshop said: “I will never vacation again without going through your process. Non-negotiable. Seriously.” Wow!
And…we’ve written a book! Well, the book is kinda sorta done, but we need to take the next step with it. Stay tuned!
So many people we’ve encountered return from vacation and end up saying: “I need a vacation!” That’s an easy cycle to get caught up in. Many rush into a trip without a real plan, and the results are unsatisfying or don’t live up to expectations.
I’m grateful to say that Bill and I have found a real richness to all our vacations, simply because of the intentional effort we put in up-front.
Tips for your next vacation
The next time you’re going on vacation, take some time to be purposeful about it. If you’re traveling with others, get together with your travel partners (in-person or virtually) and ask the question: “What are you most excited about and most looking forward to?” Brainstorm together and compile a list of all the things that were said. It’s a great way to get everyone energized together!
Then visualize yourself driving/flying home at the end of your vacation. Picture a genuine smile on your face because the time away was so amazing. Ask yourself, “What will need to happen during the trip to put that smile there?” Maybe it’s sleeping in every morning, or going on a guided tour, or quality family time. Or maybe it’s even doing nothing at all with no schedule involved.
A little pre-planning ahead of time is a great way to set the tone for a successful trip. Of course there’s so much more to our process, but I’ll save that for later. For now, start small. Start putting a bit of intention into your vacations. You’ll be surprised – you may even exceed your expectations for a great trip!
Our 2010 winter cruise kick-off party was a success. We can barely wait for our Caribbean adventure! And I bet Bob Marley will be smiling down on us. All I have to say is that the ship we are cruising on this winter better look out – when the Stimpsons step on-board, it’s going to get crazy.
Author’s Post Note: Wanna see how our cruise turned out? Read all about it here!