Most creative professionals thrive on fresh inspiration. We get burnt out from time to time if we're not careful, just like any other profession. For me, the most effective way to rejuvenate is a full week away with a good book (or three) and a soundtrack of real ocean waves on repeat. This time around was a trip around the Caribbean aboard one of the biggest cruise ships I've ever seen, holding just under 7,000 staff and vacationers. Four ports made for a serious adventure, and we were able to explore Ocho Rios in Jamaica, George Town in the Cayman Islands, Cozumel (Mexico), and Nassau in the Bahamas, all before returning to the US.
It might seem like we travel frequently, but we have found throughout our marriage that we really value experiences over "stuff". Sacrificing or compromising on common everyday things like cable tv, going out to eat frequently, or getting pedicures or highlights—even buying produce and meal planning seasonally—lets us save for these trips ahead of time. We make traveling a priority, so here are a few tips to make sure you can relax and refresh the next time you're able to take a week off:
1. Save Ahead. We have a separate savings account for vacations so that there's no guilt in spending money on trips. We transfer a little each month into the account, and when it's time to pay for the trip, we use that account. If we're able to keep ourselves from using all of it, we put the savings toward the next trip or stick it in the future fund for things like cars, house repairs, or unexpected expenses. This isn't easy, but it does create a recipe for prioritizing and removing the stress from spending time away together when we know we're not coming home to a massive bill.
2. Make A Plan. Booking tours or excursions ahead of time not only save money, but give you time to read reviews, find the best deal, and make sure that vacation is truly time to relax and not have to figure things out. Having my head buried in GPS and on Yelp trying to find the best restaurant during vacation is the worst! If we know what we're doing and how to get there before we ever leave, I'm able to let go and relax so much more quickly.
3. Leave Room for Spontaneity. Don't go overboard on planning—build in lots of downtime and flex time, too. We often change our minds and end up forgoing a few of the things we researched when something better pops up. I like to make quick lists of places and things that people have recommended. Then, picking one of them in the moment is a lot easier (and less indecisive) than wandering around aimlessly.
4. Pack Less. I've gotten a lot better at this over the years, but when you're dragging less around, it's so much easier to enjoy the trip. If you're a chronic over-packer like me, I've gotten much better at this by laying out everything I think I will need and whittling it down to about half the items. It's really easy to get little laundry soap packs (these are my fave) and wash a shirt or two in the hotel sink. Hotel shampoo works really well, too! Pick one main color (black, white, or khaki are good neutral basics), and take clothes that mix and match well. If this sounds awful to you, it has really helped me to plan out what I'll want to wear for various activities so that I'm not freaking out that I didn't pack enough. Once on the trip, I've never regretted taking less!
5. Go Digital. Depending on the trip, it's so easy to take less thanks to technology. Ten years ago I was dragging along my phone, a few books, printed confirmation emails, an iPod, my digital camera, and even my computer. Now, my smartphone fits the bill for reading multiple books using the Kindle app, taking amazing photos, listening to music, checking email and keeping work stuff in order, and storing electronic copies of my passport and reservations. I even wish I hadn't packed my iPad half the time—movies and tv shows aren't half bad on my phone now that screens are so big!
I could write a book about my mistakes and triumphs over making trips and vacations more easy and restful, but I'll stop at those five tips for now. Everyone is different, so find what kind of planning works best for your family.
The biggest takeaway though, as an artist (or any type of creative), is to take lots and lots of pictures. Bring a sketchbook. Nature and new experiences are the best fodder for future creativity, so soak it all in—but capture a few moments too, for reference material.
|7th & Palm was created to support giving away more time and resources to help others. Giving back 1% of our time, 1% of our profits, and 1% of our products at a bare minimum to the local and global community, 7th & Palm remains committed to a 1/1/1 giving pledge. YOU can be a part of that by shopping small and voting with your dollar! All artwork, stationery and greeting cards, prints, and home goods are created by artist Andrea Smith.