How can I quick switch into 'vacation mode'?
September 2, 2015 6:58 PM   Subscribe

My life is currently a pretty long commute to and from work bookended by childcare and cooking meals and cleaning up. That's pretty much all I do everyday. Sometimes I swim. I have a long weekend coming up and then, later this month, a camping trip planned. However, I find that it takes me so long to decompress that I don't begin to enjoy myself until the "break" is almost over. What are your tips for quickly switching into 'vacation mode'?
posted by amanda to Work & Money (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Beer.
posted by kmennie at 7:16 PM on September 2, 2015 [11 favorites]

Best answer: Loud, infectiously singable music on the trip there.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:28 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Immediately take a long shower, watch some really trashy TV, eat some really awesome food that is probably terrible for you - and PJs. Also sleeping in the first day helps. Then from there shut off the phone and try to reconnect with the world through non-internet means. I find those set me on the course for vacation pretty quickly.
posted by Toddles at 7:32 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Schedule something for immediately when your vacation begins. Preferably something very specific that will be immensely distracting right off the bat. I have a very similar situation to yours. On a recent vacation, the first thing I did was to terrify myself completely with a morning of kayaking on Lake Champlain. It absorbed me completely and got me off the work/other life track instantly. Once you have done that, it's hard to go back!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:34 PM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

> Beer.

> Loud, infectiously singable music on the trip there.

Combine those: Have a shot of something (or two!) as soon as you get home from work/working hours are over (however you define that) and then put on dancing musing and hop around like a maniac. Then order takeout.
posted by rtha at 7:34 PM on September 2, 2015 [8 favorites]

I used to have the same problem. These are some ideas that helped me, FWIW:

Pretend your best friend is on vacation and it's your job to make sure they enjoy it. Think of what you'd do for your best friend when they arrived, such as:

Spend a bit extra money for transportation or dining or entertainment? Maybe take them straight to someplace beautiful, or relaxing such as near running water or with beautiful scenery? Establish a reasonable pace, so that meals are not rushed and there is time to take a walk or watch a sunrise/sunset?

You don't say if you are going with others. If so I hope they will support you in some of these ways.
posted by forthright at 7:35 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hello, life twin. A few things that help me: really leaving work at work and resolving not to give it a single thought the moment you leave (if that's possible for you); bring a book or project that feels deeply relaxing to you and that you wouldn't ordinarily get to focus on long enough to enjoy it, and carve out time for it; and, again if at all possible, plan some kid-free time and get all excited planning for it.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:54 PM on September 2, 2015

Day drinking.

It's one of those things that's so so alien to me, even a Lite beer at lunch is enough to completely throw me, and I frequently start my vacations as such. It also means that I can't possibly make decisions, answer work email, or otherwise do anything responsible.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:54 PM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

Get all your work and important life stuff taken care in plenty of time before vacation starts. Don't be racing to finish everything at 5pm so you can start your vacation at 5:01. Get everything handled so you can ease into vacation time already feeling less wound up.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:58 AM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm pretty good at this. I tend to yell SPRING BREAK whenever I get home from the last day of work before the vacation. Then again at other particularly festive times of the vacation (e.g. first drink on a patio). Also, seconding day drinking.

Tell people at work that you're going to be out of cell/email reception, even if it isn't entirely true. CEOs, neurosurgeons, presidents, they all take vacations and the world doesn't burn down without them. Turn off work email notifications on your phone.

If possible, carve out a few hours in an afternoon on the first day or so where you have no obligations and can do whatever you damn well please. Read a book, take a nap, go for a walk, whatever YOU want to do at the drop of a hat. It feels pretty luxurious.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:54 AM on September 3, 2015

Nthing a drink as soon as you get home from work that first evening.

I recently had to work until midnight every night. That did not leave me enough time to get home, enjoy a beer, digest said beer, get to bed and back to work the next morning. So I skipped the beer.

Turns out that I really did not like that. Boy that one drink really helps me ramp down and reset for the next long day.

So, for those few weeks, I took a single beer to work, in a cooler with an ice pack, and left it in my car. As soon as I left work, I'd crack open that beer before even leaving work to drive home. Those extra 20 minutes made it work.

Of course I would not have an open container in the car while driving, because that would be illegal. Crank call! Crank call!
posted by intermod at 8:58 AM on September 3, 2015

Ta to Lyn Never for better articulating the values of booze here. "It also means that I can't possibly make decisions, answer work email, or otherwise do anything responsible." Yes. And, you are (relatively) trapped there! You can no longer drive your car. There will be no trips to the supermarket or taking your kid somewhere or other errands; you've made a commitment, and that commitment is to relaxing. YAY!
posted by kmennie at 9:45 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bonk your signifiers around. Buy different shampoo, and soap, move the coffee pot, buy special coffee, move the furniture to a new position, listen to a different radio station, go to Target or whatever and buy some new clothes and wear those. Get a new coffee cup. Light some candles. Sit on lawn chairs in the backyard. Put on fresh sheets. Buy a mass of flowers and put them on the table. Devote some set amount of total time to set up, like two hours, and do it first thing.

Basically just switch elements around so things *feel* different faster. It doesn't have to be spendy.

And it's important to keep vodka in the freezer for after-work shots if you want to expedite.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:50 PM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

A joint and a burger.
posted by thirdletter at 5:16 PM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I couldn't do the day drinking but I did cruise by the liquor store on my way home and we are now drinking Manhattans and listening to music. Great ideas! On to the vacation!!
posted by amanda at 6:40 PM on September 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Thanks to A Terrible Llama for "bonk your signifiers". Going to remember this on the next vacation attempt, and also try to work it into everyday conversation! I feel a business book coming on...
posted by rtgoodwin at 7:22 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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