Why do I need a vacation?

Vacations not only build life long memories, they also break your every day routine, show you new cultures, foods, and experience, and could even help you get back on track mentally. People aren't meant to live every day the same. We need adventures, to get out and experience the world, wander around learning new things. Our minds were meant to expand with knowledge, not work on mundane tasks throughout our lives. So take your kids, take your spouse, take your friends, take your mom, or get out there on your own to experience other places and learn how they live their day-to-day mundane lives. Compare the similarities and the differences. Taste the food. Experience the thrill of adventures around the world! In case I haven't convinced you enough, these are the reasons why you need to book your next vacation NOW.

1. Reduce stress. This is the biggest reason to take a vacation. When you feel like you need to work more, that's when you need to stop and take a break. Burn out is very real and stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure for both men and women. Neuroscientists have also found that chronic exposure to stress can alter your brain structure and bring on anxiety and depression. When you take a vacation, feelings of calm arise and relieve stress, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways that it couldn't if it were still under pressure. Increase your mental and physical state of mind while you also increase your productivity in your work when you return refreshed and recharged.

2. The days are going by quickly and what do you have to show for it? Break your repetitive every day tasks. Work, school, home, eat, sleep, repeat, with any downtime between shuffling back and forth typically spent staring at some type of screen. It's no wonder these years are flying by us and we're left wondering, "Could we be doing more in this time?" Yes. You could be. Shared life experiences outside the normal routine can bring people closer together. The amount of time you spend with them isn’t what matters; it’s what you do with them in that time that counts. Travel provides plenty of time for people to spend together, whether that means hiking through caverns, riding roller coasters, swimming with dolphins, or sitting around a campfire. It frees people from the everyday distractions of work, school, and daily routines and gives them a chance to enjoy each other’s company.

3. Gain real experiences from real people and real places you wouldn't normally experience in your home town or in a book. People learn best by doing. Reading books and looking at pictures is certainly great to expand your mind, but nothing beats hands-on experience. You get a sense of awe by something new and different. It changes the way you perceive the world around you and your mindset toward different things. Understanding that most people are living completely different lives in less-developed countries than ours gives us a sense of empathy and compassion that we wouldn't have gotten without those experiences. Also, if it wasn't enough of a learning experience, research shows that kids who travel score higher grades in math and reading than those who don’t. Think about that one.

4. Discover yourself. New experiences and adventures aren’t just fun. They also mold you into the person that you will become. Whether it’s surfing in the Pacific Ocean, hiking the mountains in Vermont, trying a live octopus for the first time in Asia, trying new things teaches people what they do and don’t like, what fascinates them, and what inspires them. That all helps build your sense of self.

5. Learn to adapt. Travel forces us to deal with all kinds of unpredictable situations and we have to learn to go with the flow. Flight cancelations or delays, lost luggage, or a thunderstorm on the day you're supposed to be at a theme park could ruin a trip - if you let it. If you can take charge in a situation like that and figure out how to FIX the problem instead of complaining about how "awful" this trip has been because of it, you'll gain the respect and admiration of everyone that is traveling with you, and you'll stand a little taller with your head held high knowing that you are the one that came up with the solutions to your obstacles.

6. Learn responsibility. Whether you're 8 or 38, you can work together to plan where you want to go on your trip, make a list of what to pack, and each one of you packs your own suitcase and take responsibility for your own things during your get-away. Both of my kids have been packing their own bags since they were 5. If they ended up with 5 pairs of pants and one shirt, next time they will pack differently. Same with an adult. We learn what to pack and not to pack each time we pack for a trip. We learn from our mistakes. We just need to make them.

7. Gain independence. Instead of leaning on your significant other, parents, or friends to book your plane tickets, figure out where you're going to stay, find out where check-in is in the airport and check you in, and find your gate once you get in the airport each time you take a trip, view it as an opportunity to learn how to be independent. Take the lead. Be the first to zip line when everyone else backs out at the last minute. Kids also gain independence from new experiences. Allowing your kids to get on a roller coaster or on a canoe by themselves opens up a whole new world of taking steps into adulthood. They need that opportunity to gain freedom a little bit more each time. My kid loves the independence of being in his own seat without us on the plane. He talks to the people next to him, learns some new things. With parents acting as a safety net, kids become more willing to venture into the unknown.