Stay in Touch with Standardized Vacations

Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft spoke about the idea of the ‘standardized vacation’ on their most recent Happier podcast. If you aren’t familiar with Gretchen, she is a top-selling author of several books including The Happiness Project. Her co-host, Liz is an accomplished Hollywood writer and producer. They are sisters who are originally from my hometown of Kansas City, so obviously I’m a big fan.

When they started talking about the concept of the standardized vacation I thought it sounded terribly boring. A standardized vacation could mean having a trip planned on the same dates each year, to the same place, with the same people, doing the same activities, and dishing out the same planning responsibilities. There is some flexibility allowed in these factors of course, but the goal would be to get the vacation set on the calendar and to reduce ‘decision fatigue’.

The more I thought of it, the more I fell in love with suggesting a standard-ish vacation to an amazing, adventure-loving friend of mine who is moving across the country this month. Knowing we will have something on our calendar each year would help us make sure years don’t slip by without seeing one another… and that actually does make me feel a little happier!

Do you use the concept of standardized vacations to make planning family vacations easier or to stay in contact with friends and relatives? Any tips? 


Sometimes You Have to Say ‘No’ so You Can Say ‘Yes’ to Dream Vacations!

Weddings, bachelorette parties, wedding showers, baby showers, kids birthday parties, friends birthdays, house-warming parties, family visits…. this summer is booked. I don’t want the invitations to stop because I want to be present in my loved ones’ lives. However, I can’t attend everything and still have enough time and money to go on great vacations. The big question I’ve been wrestling with is, when should I say ‘no’?

Know Yourself– One of my favorite podcasts is ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’. Gretchen and her sister Liz frequently ask thought-provoking questions that help listeners know themselves better. My question is based on a belief that people view booked calendars in different ways. Does a booked calendar excite you or leave you feeling stressed out?

Know What You Want– In his book, Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown speaks of the advantages of clarifying your top priority. If you want to prioritize a vacation, write down the concrete objective such as, ‘I want to take a week-long trip to Estes Park this summer with my immediate family’. Sharing your goal with others is a great way to gracefully decline events and combat your fears of missing out. Try saying, “Thank you for thinking of me, I would love to go to your birthday dinner but I’m saving money for my dream trip to Australia.”

How Do You Know What You Want? Listen to your body’s reaction to an invitation suggested Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of  Wild and co-host of ‘Dear Sugars’ in her two-part podcast titled “The Power of No”. The podcast featured an interview with Oprah who admits struggling with saying ‘no’ for years. Oprah spoke of the importance of asking yourself the intention behind your actions. If you are accepting an invitation because you want to be seen as a nice person, that’s not a good reason.

Don’t Become A Resentful Friend and Family Member– a ‘Catholic Stuff You Should Know’ podcast – episode, “Kristen’s Resentment” helped me to see that feeling out of control leads to resentment which is toxic to long-term relationships and leads to feelings of revenge, anger, malice and envy.

Consider Other Ways to Show You Care –  You can offer to watch a friend’s pet when they go on a honeymoon; watch their kids so they can go out on a special anniversary dinner; bring them soup if they are filling ill; or send them a postcard from your vacation destination.

Pay Yourself First – it’s a popular financial investment idea but can be applied to vacations if they are an important investment to your life. Fill out that vacation request today and fill in other activities around it.