August 23, 2010

The Importance of Vacations

If you are retired, I'm sure you have had friends or acquaintances remark that it must be nice to be "on vacation" all the time. If only it were so. Not working for a paycheck doesn't mean you are not working. Working to maintain your residence, working to protect your investments, working at keeping up with the grand kids, working to stay in decent physical are working. And you need an occasional vacation. There are several good reasons you would be wise to make sure that time away continues to be part of your life.

  • No matter how busy you are with new projects or activities a change in your daily routine is important. It is too easy to fall into a rut. Doing the same things, the same way day after day can wear you down. It can create a feeling of boredom. Shake up the predictability. Get away for a while.

  • A change of scenery can be quite welcome. We've lived in the Phoenix area for 26 years. It is beautiful with several world class resorts. People spend thousands of dollars to visit here. Yet, my wife and I love to get out of town for long weekends. The mountains around Flagstaff are only two hours away but we feel like we're arriving in a different country. The wine area in southeast Arizona feels like a trip to Napa Valley. We've been to these places dozens of times over the two and a half decades we've lived in Arizona. But, just that brief change of scenery is refreshing and gives us renewed appreciation when we arrive home.

  • It is a time to clear your mind and recharge your mental and physical batteries. Because of the change in routine and the change in scenery, it is common for someone to feel a new burst of energy and creativity. Fresh solutions to problems at home can arise. A new activity you'd like to tackle suddenly seems very doable. Some of the major decisions I reached about retiring came during a family vacation in the Spring of 2001. For two weeks on a beach in Florida I had the chance to think deeply about my situation and the consequences involved if I shuttered my business. The normal distractions were not present. I could focus completely on the issue at hand.

  • Catch up on leisure activities. Personally, when I go on a break, no matter how short, I take a stack of reading material that I know I probably won't finish. Importantly, it is reading for enjoyment. Fiction by authors I like, a biography of an historical figure I find fascinating, even magazines about gardening and home improvement always land in my suitcase. The family will take DVDs and board games to fill our evenings. Vacations are just right for catching up on fun stuff.

  • If your vacation is spent in a hotel or motel setting, you will be pampered. Someone else will make the bed, bring fresh towels, even cook and serve your meals. It feels good to turn over some of the basic daily functions to others for awhile. Just writing about it makes me antsy to go find a Hyatt somewhere. A bit of pampering is good for you.

  • I love to plan the trip almost as much as taking it. Doing Internet searches for places to visit and stuff to do, plotting the route on Google map, even working up a budget are enjoyable to me. My wife will often joke that we could save a lot of money if I planned a trip and then we just stayed home. I already had done the fun part.

Just because you may not be working at a full time job, don't shortchange yourself in terms of a vacation. The benefits are too valuable to lose.


  1. Very good point that we all need a break from the everyday life, even a vacation from retirement! More to get some variety in life and stir things up. And I am so on board with your comment on having as much fun planning the trip as taking it. We are going to Paris in the not to distant future and I am already highlighting maps and looking into Rick Steve's suggested tours and working on my French. What fun!

  2. Rick Steve's shows always get my travel juices going. I hope you'll write about your experiences in Paris. I've been to several countries in Europe, but not France & Paris yet.