How to Resist Over-Planning and Stay Stress-Free on Your Vacation

As one of the biggest over-planners I know: throwing together a largely unplanned vacation is way outside of my comfort zone. Regardless, I was determined to do something new. I wanted to avoid my usual obsessively detailed tendencies and go for a minimalist mindful vacation! The trick is: how do I resist over-planning and stay stress-free?

When I plan for a vacation usually goes something like this:

Determine the vacation theme, the location, research every destination, every possible over-night stay, read all the reviews, research the restaurants, things to do, suffer from analysis paralysis and finally develop an itinerary so I can finally book everything well in advance and then obsess about the weather for weeks.

If you are like me, all the above activities compound my everyday life with work and personal commitments. By the time I’m ready to leave for my vacation I’m mentally exhausted!

Letting Go of Over-Planning

I admit that letting go of my obsessively detailed vacation planning tendencies isn’t easy. There are a few things you do need to plan in advance so you will have a better experience, but none of it included researching weeks in advance or developing an itinerary. The nice part about a minimalist mindful vacation is that you can set your mind free to enjoy your time off.

1. Be Present

In order to resist obsessively planning my vacation, I have to be mindful and present every day. I remind myself that worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet isn’t useful. I squash my urge to be distracted and plan, worry or focus on my impending time off. Instead, I focus on my current work and life commitments to prepare for my absence.

2. Set Expectations

I make sure to set my own and my work expectations well before my vacation. By setting my own expectation appropriately I could worry less. I also communicate early and set expectations at work about my time off. I didn’t obsess about the weather or concern myself with exactly what I’m going to do each day. I reminded myself that I can make the best out of each day and whatever happens.

3. Keep it Simple

It’s easy to ruin a minimalist mindful vacation by overcomplicating things. A complex schedule will require additional details and planning. If you keep it simple by going places you are vaguely familiar with that doesn’t require a passport, less can go awry. If something does go wrong, it’s easier to manage the change.

4. Stick to Your Theme

Every trip has a theme whether it’s for work, fun, adventure, relaxation, touring or otherwise: you probably have an idea what you want to do. If you want to go hiking, bring your hiking gear. If you want to go to the beach, bring your bathing suit. Enjoying a minimalist mindful vacation is less stressful if you pick one theme and stick with it.

5. Go with the Flow

No matter if you have over-planned or not, things don’t always go the way we’d like them to. So, if you are suddenly evicted from your campsite by rampaging thunderstorms: keep calm and carry on. Don’t waste energy freaking out over the situation. Calmly consider your options and take action.

6. Stress-Free Simple Backup

Always bring an easy and simple backup when I travel. For example: I always bring a couple good books to read on my trips or cards to play. When things don’t go to plan (or if you don’t have a plan) then you have something to do. Do your best to not to worry about things you cannot control but be prepared just in case.

7. Trust Your Instincts

Few people trust their ‘gut’ feelings. I encourage you to practice listening to that little nudge you get when you need to make a decision. I have followed whatever my instincts told me to do during the entire trip and had a fabulous time! Trust your instincts about bad situations. My advice: being paranoid is a lot better than regretful, especially if you are a woman traveling alone.

8. Google It

I never thought I would say this, but: just Google it. Don’t know where to camp, find the next hotel or a good place to eat? Google it. Need to get directions to a location? Let Google handle that. What about things to do at a destination? Ask Google. Instead of researching for weeks in advance – figure it out on the fly and allow our digital world to work for you.

9. Don’t Pack Everything

If you want to have a mindful minimalist vacation – you cannot pack everything you own. Instead: pack the bare minimum of what you think you will need with one spare set of clothes. Chances are, you won’t need the spare. Travel wisely for weather. If the weather might be chilly a few times – think about smart layers versus bringing your bulky winter coat. Resist the urge to bring half of your household with you.

10. Enjoy Each Moment

We spend so much time caught up in the past and worrying about the future, we are rarely present. The key to enjoying a minimalist mindful vacation is to set your mind free. Be in the moment. Observe the world around you. Talk to strangers. Try new things. Focus on the positive and be grateful for each day. Instead of focusing on worry – focus on wonder.

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