Discipline and vacation may not be words you would normally think go together. However, if you’re going to include “success” in this equation–it is a must.
Vacations are the ideal time for a family and/or couple to pull away for quality time together. The plans are made, the lodging booked and the time requested off from work is approved. You’re all set, right? Wrong. If this is all you do to prepare for a great vacation you will most likely end up quoting:
“No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one. ~Elbert Hubbard
How can one make the most of time away, without wasting it, or ruining it altogether?
Here are our 5 Disciplines of a Successful Vacation:
Discipline #1 – Talk about your expectations for your time away before you go away.
- Are you planning to read an entire novel, alone on the beach? Are you looking forward to playing games together each night? Maybe you can’t wait to take in all the local art museums and attractions. As you can see, being on the same page as to what you would like to do makes a huge difference for each one in making the vacation successful. This vacation for us was one where we both wanted the same thing–to do nothing together. Of course, these are the best kinds of vacations because no matter what you do you’re happy because you had no plans, no agenda you wanted to meet. When we took our kids on vacation we would give them a choice of one thing they wanted to do and try to make it happen. It didn’t always work, but at least they knew we were making an attempt to bless them.
Discipline #2 – Know your financial limits.
- Going on vacation with a credit card in hand may sound fun for the moment, but returning to a pile of bills can take a serious toll on the memories you may have created. It’s important to take control of your wallet, so your wallet doesn’t hit you back when you get home. With a little research and discipline, make plans ahead of time for the things you know you can afford, so you’re not tempted to go overboard with your holiday spending. Be sure the entire family is aware of the set limits as well. You may want to rally everyone together ahead of time for a garage sale to make some extra spending money for the kids.
Discipline #3 – Look out for the interests of others.
- Purpose to help your spouse and/or children have the vacation of their dreams. Make a list of their favorite things, like food, movies, games, hobbies, etc. and make time for them to do them. I remember one vacation when Tom made sure I enjoyed all my favorite things for an entire week. The best part? He didn’t tell me he was doing it–he let me figure it out all by myself, and he found great pleasure in watching me discover it, one delicious crab leg at a time. 🙂
Discipline #4 – Don’t be anxious, but instead pray.
- All vacations have unexpected mishaps. If you know these things are going to happen, you can discipline yourself for a godly response. Case in point, this past week we arrived at our rental only to find it dirty, and not the picture of the beach condo we had seen in the pictures. It wasn’t acceptable to us. What did we do? We prayed first, then called and left a message for the owner of the condo. Lastly, we went about looking for some place else to stay nearby. It took two hours out of our day at a McDonald’s (they have free WiFi) in a not very nice part of town. But by God’s grace we didn’t react. We trusted God, followed His lead and ended up with a sincere apology from the owner, a complete refund, and a beautiful time-share condo directly facing the ocean for the same price.
Discipline #5 – Connect and Disconnect
- In this day of social media and computer games it can seem impossible to disconnect from your growing network of family and friends. But this discipline is probably the most important one for a truly relaxing time away. Think about it…we push buttons and look at computer screens all day, every day. How sad to go away to a beautiful location only to keep your nose into a smart phone or laptop computer. It takes great discipline to push the “off” button, but for every yes we say to technology, we’re saying no to something or someone else. Discipline yourself to be there even if you aren’t doing anything in particular. One of my favorite snapshots from our vacation last year was when I was fixing dinner while Tom sat on the front deck of our cabin in NC. He was doing nothing, but admiring the view, completely lost in the moment of peace and quiet. I will never forget it, and I work hard to help him find that place whenever we’re away.
What disciplines have you found necessary for a successful vacation?