Recent surveys estimate that it takes people anywhere between three and four days of vacation to feel relaxed. A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that our wellbeing increases significantly as soon as we're on vacay, but those feelings then settle and don't peak again until day eight. Thing is, it's expensive to go on eight days of vacation. I won't even bother proving it to you with simple math—you know how easily it can add up.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could get into the zen mindset a little faster? I recently tried out the idea on a five-day stay in Aruba (I know, tough job), visiting the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino for its annual Wellness Month. This is a really good deal, folks. It takes place in June, when the weather is gorgeous, and they offer tons of self-care activities like sunrise and sunset yoga, bicycling tours, stand-up paddle boarding, and more—for free. In general, the Hilton is like the Maui of Aruba, in that its grounds are incredibly lush—you're surrounded by greenery and exotic birds as you walk from the hotel to the pools and beach, as opposed to well-manicured grass. The hotel is also located right across the street from the main strip, with tons of restaurants and entertainment to explore. And when I double checked this opinion with the cab drivers to and from the airport, they agreed: The Hilton has the best service, the best scenery, and the most things to do on One Happy Island.
Okay, so now that I have that little suggestion off my chest, allow me to get to my tips. Some of these may feel very granular, but they'll do wonders in terms of helping you relax sooner than later.
1. Even in 2019, make a stop at the ATM.
Transportation is one of the main sources of vacation stress. I had one such hiccup at the beginning of my trip, and it was all my damn fault. I'd just replaced my debit card and was waiting—while vacationing—for it in the mail. I didn't think about the fact that most island cab drivers at the airport are cash only (duh). The taxi attendants were super sweet about my dilemma, and noted that one taxi on the island, cab #210, took credit cards. Yay! But I would have to wait for this one cab, out of 500, to pull up to the airport. Luckily, I was able to call the Hilton Aruba, and they very kindly paid my driver once I arrived at the hotel. Most hotels should do this for you if you're ever in the same predicament; they'll just charge it to your room. But do yourself a favor: Don't be a bonehead like me in the first place, and bring cash whenever you travel. It's still the most universal way to get around.
2. Get to the beach before 8 a.m.
If you don't have eight full days of vacation, you can still maximize the days you do have by starting early. The 7-9 a.m. hours are my favorite time to beach because you can snag prime real estate and enjoy literal peace and quiet when no one else is around. The Hilton Aruba is at 96-97% occupancy year-round, but you'd never know it, especially in these early morning hours. It's the most tranquil experience ever to feel like you have a whole island to yourself.
And if you're all about location, location, location, ask if the hotel reserves pool chairs or palapas at check-in. I reserved my front-row palapa the night before, when the best spots were fresh on the market. (But truly, it's far from the end of the world if you don't do this. On a beach like Aruba, there isn't a bad seat in the house.)
3. Take note of where you tense up.
Here's something quick to do on the plane: As you're watching a movie, or reading a book, or working on your computer, notice where your body tends to freeze up. For example, I subconsciously stick my tongue on the roof of my mouth. Take note of these habits, and become aware of them on your trip. I indulged in a massage at the Hilton's incredible eforea spa, and I noticed I was doing the tongue-on-roof-of-mouth thing several times. Just by loosening up my jaw, I was able to enjoy my massage—and my whole vacation—so much more.
4. Practice the 1:1 rule.
Once you start to feel relaxed, you don't want to cut your trip short by overdoing it. If, like me, you drink, you'll likely drink a little more than planned on vacation. This isn't to say you should go crazy, but the whole "why not?" mentality will probably strike you at lunch time or in the early afternoon, when you wouldn't normally reach for the rosé. Balance this out by downing a full glass or bottle of water with every alcoholic drink. If you're with other people, encourage them to do the same. You want to enjoy yourself, but you also don't want to get dehydrated, especially if you're out in the sun all day.
5. Pre-book at least one activity.
Scheduling one fun thing to do ahead of time—whether it's snorkeling or sunset yoga—will allow you to spend less time at excursion counters and more time by the pool on your trip. At the Hilton Aruba, I loved standup paddle boarding because it got me in the water, which experts say has lots of beneficial restorative effects. You'll also feel a release of endorphins just by being active for a sec. That said, if life happens and the class is overbooked or you arrive at the wrong spot, don't let it ruin your day. I was recently in the elevator at my gym with a woman who was losing her mind because she and her husband realized they were at the wrong location for a complimentary class. I could see the distress on her husband's face. Remember that you're on vacation, the hotel can likely re-book you into another excursion, and the beach is still within a stone's throw.
Summer Travel Favorites
Insider Card Holderhollyandtanager.com
Bring a condensed version of your wallet (with cash!).
Anthelios 60 Face SunscreenLa Roche-Posay ulta.com
Load up on sunscreen.
Pack a chic cover-up to wear at lunch.
The Sidestroke Swimsuitsummersalt.com
My favorite swimwear brand of the summer. I've gotten several compliments on this one.
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How to De-Stress Faster When You're on Vacation, Source:https://www.prevention.com/life/a28386217/wellness-vacation-relaxation-tips/