Your Best Vacation Ever...

Are you ready for vacation?

Maybe you've already been. Cool. Bookmark this and come back and read it about a month before next year's vacation.

Actually, scratch that. Got something at the end that will help you get ready for next year.

I just got back from vacation. Took the family to the beach. 

Now you should know that I don't like the beach.

It probably has to do with growing up as a 'husky' kid with the physique of Dusty Rhodes. Or the miserable experience that I had getting sunburned the summer after 7th grade that led to an all-night Golden Girls marathon. Or maybe it's just sand which like the lady from The Nanny is pretty to look at but grating in just about every other way imaginable.

Anyhow, I just got back from the beach with my family. And it was fantastic.

Here's why. 

I did a few things differently this year. I'll explain why later.

What matters is that you want to have a great vacation. Best one ever, right?

Well, check this out and tell me that at least one of these won't be a game-changer for you.

1. Remove social media and email apps from your phone

I cracked the screen on my iPhone. 

Was on an elevator and a little girl - barely walking, cute as a button - tried to get off the elevator. As the door was closing.

So instinctively, I reached out to stop the door. Which I did. 

But in the process I dropped my phone, and the screen cracked.

I stared at it. Like this guy. So did the little girl's parents. 

The little girl? She giggled, picked up the phone and handed it to me.

Glad she was cute.

I just thought about that because I grabbed my phone to look at my home screen.

It only has eight apps. Helps me focus.

Everything else goes on the second page in folders. Keeps me organized.

On that home page, three of my apps are social media apps (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

When we started our vacation, I deleted all three apps off of my phone.

Made a ceremony out of it. Walked over to my wife. Told her what I was doing. Did it. Then I told her how awesome I was for doing it.

And you know what? She didn't disagree. 

And do you know what else? She didn't laugh.

I think I was on to something.

Oh, and I didn't miss social media while I was on vacation. At all.

2. Read something you enjoy...and read it on paper

Now some of y'all may remember that I actually posted something on social media while I was on vacation.

One post. About the fact that I eat donuts one day a year. And that one day took place last week. Two raspberry-filled (which was awesome) and one blueberry cake (which was fine...should have upgraded to the apple fritter) donuts from Krispy Kreme. 

Now before you come at me about the fact that I just told you that I deleted my social media apps, you should know that I brought my laptop.

Not to do work. Seriously. More on that in a minute.

I brought the laptop to keep up with my fantasy baseball team(s).

Yes, I know. I have multiple teams. Been playing since 1990. Got a better chance of handling snakes on a Sunday than not playing fantasy baseball.

So I posted from my laptop.

But you know what didn't come with me? My iPad.

That is significant for one reason.

I do almost all of my reading on my iPad.

And I knew that if I brought my iPad that I would read a lot.

And not only would I read a lot, I would not focus my reading.

Because I'm a stream-of-consciousness reader. Jump from a book to a Google search related to something that I just read. And then over to a magazine article I had stored away.

So I left the iPad at home. Brought three books and a college football magazine ('tis the season).

Finished 'em all. By the middle of vacation.

The power of focus and enjoying what you read.

3. Send an email message that you wrote last week

If you subscribe to this blog - and you should - then you received two emails from me while I was on vacation. Sent out a survey to help me with some future writing projects.

Wrote both of them before I left town. Scheduled them to go out while I was gone.

So even though I didn't post anything here on my blog, I still was able to stay in touch with people I care about. 

I was not working last week (more on that in a second). But I was still working.

So maybe you schedule a thank-you email to your church that goes out while you're on vacation. Or put a couple of blog posts in the queue and don't lose the momentum you have. 

Do the hard work of putting in a little extra effort before you leave town. And reap the benefits while you're on vacation.

4. Put the camera (phone) down

Because my boys are little and cute and awesome, we take lots of pictures.

Normally on vacation, our picture-taking frequency jumps exponentially.

And there are times when Lindsey and I have both felt like we miss moments as a family by trying to take great pictures that everyone will like and comment about on Facebook and Instagram.

And we kinda ruin the moment by having to take ten pictures just to get a decent picture.

Because no matter what we do (pretty sure I offered to buy my 10-year-old a new car when he turns 16), my guys will not look at the camera. They're like cats.

So this year, we didn't take any pictures. Didn't post anything.

And y'all didn't miss it. The only person who asked me about pictures was my mom.

And actually, we did take pictures. On our last night there.

Not on the beach with matching shirts. 'Cause we're not crazy like some of y'all. You know who you are.

So on my phone I have about a dozen pictures. Maybe I'll post a couple of 'em. Or maybe I just keep those memories to myself.

5. Forget the alarm

I use the Sleep Cycle app every night to monitor my sleep. And to wake me up in the morning.

Because sleeping until I wake up is just crazy talk in my world.

But for seven nights, the phone got turned off. There was no alarm. And I slept until I woke up. Or the kids woke me up.

And while I didn't count it while I was there, I'll do the math here for you.

I averaged around 2.5 more hours of sleep a night than I do at home.

Don't want that much sleep all the time. Don't need that much sleep all the time.

But it was fantastic to get that much sleep last week.

6. Take a break from exercise

I work out 5-6 days a week. Me and my buddy Diamond Dallas Page.

Usually, I keep that up when I go on vacations trips.

Not this year. 

Now part of it was because we don't have a lot of space in our car to pack shoes and gear. But I also knew that what I needed last week was to rest and spend time with my family. So taking a break from training made sense.

And somewhat surprisingly, I didn't turn into a fat tub of goo during the week.

And if Lindsey had wanted to work out (walk, run, do yoga) while we were away, I would have done that with her. But it would have been with her. 

And being with family is the point of vacation trips, right?

7. Leave the work at home

In years past, I have been known to use vacations trips as opportunities to get ahead in my work.

Research an upcoming sermon series. Catch up on reading.

Usually before everyone was up in the morning. But I say 'usually' because I have a hard time multi-tasking, and I found myself thinking about what I was working on before my kids got up.

And I wasn't fully present and in the moment with them.

So I didn't bring anything to work on this year. 

Yes, I had my laptop. But I didn't open Logos. The only thing I did with email was to forward things to my team, put things in folders for when I got back or deleted stuff that simply didn't matter.

And, yeah, I brought books. But none of them were work related. I even ignored podcasts that would get me thinking about work.

Was it easy? Not always. But I gave myself permission to not work.

And the world kept spinning on its axis without me.

BONUS: Start saving for next year's trip as soon as you get home

So if you've already been on vacation and you kept reading, you are a saint.

Well, actually I promised you something for next year's vacation.

Here it is. Start putting away money for next year's vacation. Right now.

I know. You're probably already doing that. But I hadn't done it until this year.

And by setting aside a little each month, we didn't shred our cash flow right before vacation. And we didn't even consider having to use a credit card. And we came home with a pretty sizeable chunk of money that Lindsey and I can now use on our anniversary vacation.

Save now. Enjoy later. 

Do The Next Right Thing

Whether you're heading out to the beach, Disney World, traveling the world or taking a staycation, take one or more of these practices and put them to work for you.

Question of the Day

Where are you going on your next vacation? Let us know in the comments below.

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