Vacation: How to Enjoy it!

Hello, there, Tangent Pursuer’s! Recently, in alignment with some vacation I had scheduled, I decided to take a two-week hiatus from posting. Did you notice my absence? Probably not, but I won’t hold it against you. this time. Anyway, it feels good to be getting back into the swing of city things and I’m grateful we are finally making an exit from the winter season. Prior to my vacation, I was ready to lose my mind. I had had enough of the cold weather and was constantly teetering on the edge of being sick. Needless to say, I’m feeling much more rejuvenated now. Here's a little slideshow of the experience:

After three years spending spring break with my family in Mexico, I’ve definitely learned a few lessons along the way on how to get the most out of your vacation – check out my favorite tips, below!

Before Your Trip

Plan Ahead

No, I am NOT suggesting that you plan your vacation activities down to the minute. In fact, definitely don’t do that. I just mean that you should book your travel and accommodations a few months ahead. Beyond saving money by planning early, you also rake in a lot more happiness via anticipation. Many studies have proven that we reap the most benefits from a vacation during the weeks leading up to it. Honestly, who hasn’t gotten giddy with excitement at least once while day-dreaming of sun and blue waters at their cubicle? That’s what I thought.

Prep a little

Take note of this post the week leading up to your trip.

On Your Trip


This is really tough, but you have to try to cut down on the drug that is technology. To wane myself off (how pathetic does that sound), I crafted up a few golden rules:

1.       Limit frequency: I allowed myself to check my e-mail twice a day for no longer than 20 minutes. Once in the morning after I had my coffee, watched the sunrise and stretched. Then, again, in the evening if I really needed to.  

2.       Limit location: keep your electronics in one corner of the hotel/apartment you’re staying in. There is no need for them by the pool or on the beach.

3.       Limit content: I generally tune out of social media and definitely avoid negative news outlets. That said, I couldn’t resist a few Instagram shots J. I mean, did you see how cute my little cousin is? Please. I had to.

Stay Active

... outside of the gym. If you must get in a few gym workouts while you’re away, go for it for peace of mind. But otherwise, try to use your natural surroundings and enjoy yourself. I took 2 full weeks off of the gym and running and instead cruised around every morning on the stand-up paddleboard. It was a killer workout and the best way to start my day possible. Throughout my trip, I was lucky enough to see a sea turtle, a sea lion, a flying fish and even (my fav) a WHALE up close! That beats the hell out of a beach run any day.

Stay Healthy

It’s usually easy to indulge while being nutritious at most tropical destinations. I had delicious mango, fresh coconut water, off-the-boat sushi, homemade margaritas and avocado-everything while in Cabo. You just can’t get those same ingredients as fresh in the North East. 


Duh, right? But it can be difficult to unwind when most of us live such regimented lives. Trade the iPad for a real book. Trade Spotify for the sound of the ocean. And trade your schedule for whatever-you-feel-like-doing. Honestly, don’t feel the need to fill your vacation time with zip-lines and banana boat rides if all you really want to do is kick back and relax. It’s your trip; do it your way.


Plan A Post-trip Perk

Coming home from vacation can be tough, which is why you should schedule something to look forward to the day/week you return. When I was younger, the night we flew home from a trip would signify pizza & movie night, regardless of which day of the week it was. As a kid, that made coming home from a trip part of the fun! While pizza night is still a solid choice, here are some of my other favorite ideas:

o   A date with friends at your favorite restaurant

o   A dose of live-music and drinks

o   A massage/spa appointment*

*My personal favorite. Clearly, I’m no stranger to pampering myself. 

Have your own tips and ideas? Share them in the comments!

Your Vacation Essentials

I leave for Cabo in exactly 68 hours -- but I mean, who’s counting?

Obviously, I’ve been looking forward to this vacation for a while. Over the past few years, it’s become an annual family retreat where we get to kick it under the sun together, catch some waves and drink endless carafes of sangria.  To top it off, my cousins from California are joining us with their babies this time. So, it should be a real treat!

In preparation, I’ve drafted up a Vacation Essentials guide, detailing the top 5 things you should be bringing with you on your next warm-weather retreat… 

Go-To Clothes

Every woman I know has been guilty of over packing. It’s as if we’re programmed to jam half of our closet into one suitcase – you know, “just in case” we need both the magenta and the forest-green leg warmers for our trip to Miami. It’s stupid. And it’s especially stupid when you’re going on a blissful, relaxing getaway where the whole point of the trip is to simplify. So, where do you start? First, make a list and be realistic. You truly need only a few items: necessary toiletries & undergarments, sunglasses, about 2-3 bathing suits, a pair of sandals, sneaks and maybe heels, a few light sundresses, one cover-up in case it’s cold and maybe 1-2 outfits for dining out. Remember: minimalist-chic is in these days, anyway.

Tip: As for choosing which outfits will make the cut, the trick is to honestly ask yourself “would I wear item X right this moment if I was at my destination?” If the answer is no, then you probably won’t wear it period.  Only pack your absolute favorites!

A Good Book

… or five. Thanks to some wonderful gift-giving friends, I’ll be bringing The Paris Review Interviews Volumes I & II for skim-reading, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please! for laughs, and a T.S. Eliot classic to delve into for good measure. I like having different books for different moods, but magazines are always a great poolside hit, too. If you’re more of an auditory learner, download your podcasts or books on tape before you get on the plane so you don’t have to worry about getting a good wifi connection. 

Podcast Suggestions: Alan Watts, Freakonomics, Planet Money

Your Version of A Journal

Call me a dork, but I grew up journaling while traveling and it’s something I’ve always held onto. The act of handwriting something down triggers a different area of your brain and facilitates better recall – and if I want to remember anything, it’s definitely how I felt while on vacation. It’s also therapeutic to take a few moments to reflect and soak up the relaxing vibes. Of course, reading back through vacation/travel journals is a little gift in and of itself and only gets better with time.

Side note: for people who really have a tough time “turning off” from the daily grind while on vacay, journaling is even more helpful. Create a small section of “to do’s.” Next time you’re trying to sip on a Pina Colada and that nagging voice pops up reminding you of an e-mail you forgot to answer before you left, just jot the item down along with a reminder to yourself of why it’s not urgent. Trust me, it helps – this goes for any type of anxiety, too, not just the work-related kind. It’s like transferring your problems to a sheet of paper that you can pick back up on when you return home.

Good Health 

The last way anyone wants to feel when they de-board the plane for vacation is stressed. Unfortunately, that’s usually exactly how people feel, especially when you hail from the Northeast. We work harder and longer than most folks and endure some of the worst winter weather, period. And it’s hard to turn off from all of that sometimes. Personally, I’ve been terribly guilty of this in the past, so there’s a few things I’ve learned.   First, cut out heavy drinking for a full week before you leave, if not more. You don’t want to risk being sleep-deprived, bloated, and worst of all, sick. Second, eat healthfully. It doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself, but you want to look and feel good for your trip. I stick to lots of fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil before I head out for vacation (and try to in general, as well). Naturally I still allow a little bit of cheese and a glass of wine if I want it (after all, I am preparing for vacation.) For some added health benefits, I also plan to incorporate a fresh juice or smoothie these next 3 days prior to leaving!

A Positive Attitude

Attitude is everything in this world. Whether your flight gets delayed or you forget something important, there’s always something that is bound to go askew. And even if things pan out well logistically, we sometimes build up high expectations around the most irrational aspects of our trip, allowing minor things to bother us much more than they normally would (e.g. a silly quarrel with your significant other or having a sub-par meal out). But just remember the age-old saying that goes “don’t sweat the small stuff… and it’s all small stuff” and you should be just fine.

How do you prepare for vacation? Leave your ideas in the comments below!