In every trip, one of our favorite moments is when our guests ride back into the ranch after their mountain adventure. We have to admit, guests and guides are usually in need of good shower after their week of exploring the wilderness. No amount of dirt, however, can hide the gleam in their eyes and the smiles on their faces. Even tired muscles can’t hide the fact that their burdens are somehow lighter and their minds are refreshed.
But they didn’t start their trip that way.
Most of our guests arrive at the ranch burdened by the stress and demands of their daily lives. They know the chaos of city life is getting to them and they travel great lengths to arrive at our ranch, hoping to truly get away from it all.
Maybe you find yourself in that same place. Between work, your family and the demands of modern life, you feel stretched thin. Non-stop notifications from your phone and inbox are sapping you of your strength. Maybe you’re being pulled in so many directions that you feel disconnected from yourself and your family. You might feel a vague sense of dissatisfaction as daily distractions keep you from the kind of purpose that would really fulfill you. Or maybe you need a break from traffic jams and the noise of city life so you can actually hear yourself think. Maybe you just want to see snow-capped mountains and meadows full of wildflowers.
No matter where you’re at today, our guests have been right where you are. That’s what drove them to the ranch. They knew they needed a real vacation. A break from the stress and chaos of non-stop lifestyle.
With all the burdens and stress you deal with on a daily basis, you probably already know you need a vacation. Or, maybe, this is a light-bulb moment for you and you’re realizing that you deserve the chance to get away from it all and recharge in a special place. Like our guests, you need a trip that will refresh your mind, recharge your spirit and refocus your life.
But how can you choose a vacation that meets your true needs? How do you plan a holiday that will do more than distract you from your stress but actually lessen it? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the options out there. And, unfortunately, it’s even easier to pick a vacation that doesn’t actually deliver the mental, physical and emotional refreshment you need.
For decades, we’ve seen our guests transform from stressed to refreshed during their wilderness adventures. We want everyone to have this experience, but we can only lead so many guests on wilderness adventures each year.
That’s why we took time from our ranch duties to share 3 powerful principles with you. These are the tried and true principles that have helped our guests get the most out of their vacations. These common denominators have proved reliable, regardless of our guests’ age, nationality, or life story. So, we know these principles will work for YOU!
If you’ll diligently apply these 3 principles, you’ll be able to choose vacations that are not a temporary distraction from your life but a real investment in yourself.
How to Make the Most of Your Vacation
Set clear goals for your vacation.
We’ve seen this play out trip after trip, year after year. The families who journey to our ranch with the concrete goals of spending quality time together and strengthening their relationships get precisely that. Every aspect of their wilderness adventure, from working together to saddle their horses to helping clean up the campsite before they ride out, becomes a powerful tool towards meeting their predetermined goals. Because they were clear in their intentions, these are the families that grew closer together in 1 week than they had in the past year.
The same is true of all our guests. Whether their goal is to gain a fresh perspective on life, challenge themselves with new experiences or to connect with nature in a powerful way, the guests who know the purpose of their vacation are able to realize it.
Stephen Covey coined the phrase, “Begin with the end in mind.” Picture yourself, at the end of your vacation. What transformation do you want to see take place? Do you want to have more confidence or a renewed sense of purpose? Maybe you just want a rested mind. Or maybe you want to have achieved something that reaches beyond yourself. Maybe you want to have made the world a better place or helped save the planet through conservation. Once you dial in on what you want by the end of your vacation, you’ll be able to plan a holiday that moves you towards that goal.
Choose a place that inspires a sense of awe.
When guests arrive for their hiking vacation, we often guide them on a short hike to Pearson Lookout, just to help them get acclimated and to give them a taste of the wilderness they’re about to explore. As we trek upward through towering evergreens and past rushing streams, we’re careful to point out the views along the way. We never tire of watching our guests’ eyes light up as they spy snow-capped mountains and aquamarine lakes through the trees. What we really love, though, is the sense of awe that sweeps over our guests when we reach the summit of our hike. Many have never seen mountain ranges that stretch as far as the eye can see or a valley adorned with crystal clear lakes. This sense of awe is what sets the stage for a truly meaningful holiday. It’s a big part of what makes our wilderness adventures powerful and even transformational for our guests.
And while we can back up the importance of awe with 30 years of experience, science has actually proven what we see our guests experience. Awe, as defined by Professor Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley, is “the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” This wilderness we’re privileged to live and work in certainly embodies the definition of awe. Studies have shown that experiencing awe improves life satisfaction and draws people into the present moment (Rudd et al.). And that’s what makes a sense of awe so powerful during your vacation experience. It invites you to be fully present and to make the most of each moment. Without awe-inspiring experiences, vacations can become a trap of superficial distractions and wastes-of-time that don’t impart any true value.
Even though moments of awe often take us by surprise, you have the power to intentionally set the stage for these powerful experiences. As you plan your vacation, choose places and settings that reach beyond what you’ve seen and experienced in the past. Take the time to research where you’re going and be willing to go beyond the standard “must-see” sights.
Our guests experience moment after moment of awe because they placed themselves in an environment that inspires wonder. And you can apply the same principle to your vacation. You just have to put in the work before your journey by researching and thinking through the places that will inspire awe for you.
Take a break from technology.
We know. This is a hard one. Like anything in life, though, the greater your investment the greater your reward.
Taking a break from technology is vital to the success of your vacation, though. 83% of small business owners who stayed connected to their phone or laptop during vacation reported feeling workplace stress while still on vacation (Martinez). Technology essentially blocks your ability to let go of stress and anxiety. It keeps you from the getting the most out of your vacation.
For our guests, it’s pretty easy to disconnect from technology. Our remote location in the Canadian mountains doesn’t get cell phone reception. While some would bemoan this fact, it’s been one of the biggest gifts the mountains could have given us. Our guests get to fully enjoy every moment. They’re not tempted to scroll through Instagram or check the latest Facebook posts.They get the rare opportunity to disconnect from the distractions of modern life and fully engage with the special moments and experiences right in front of them. Many of our guests relish the time they spend sitting on the front deck, watching deer meander through the front pasture or savoring the beauty of a mountain sunset.
If you don’t have the luxury of a technology-break built into your vacation, you have to be extra disciplined and set boundaries on your technology use. If you can disconnect completely, that’s ideal. If you need your phone for GPS or translating the local language, then turn off notifications for all of your social media platforms. We promise you’ll have a richer vacation experience because of it.
While these 3 principles may seem simple, or even obvious, that doesn’t make them any less effective. Time after time, we’ve seen our guests at the ranch get massive returns for the effort they invested in choosing the right trip. The rekindled purpose and joy in their eyes is undeniable. The change they feel is real.
What would it do for you, personally, to have that kind of vacation experience? To experience a holiday that’s not a temporary distraction from the stressors of daily life but a solution? What would it feel like to return from your vacation mentally refreshed and ready to pursue what matters most to you in life?
If you invest in your vacation (and yourself) by following the 3 keys we outlined above, you can have that kind of vacation. Like our guests, you can return from your adventure with a lighter load and a refreshed mind. You can finally have a family vacation that brings your closer together. You can have the vacation of your dreams that empowers you to live your dreams. Our guests, who come from around the world with unique life stories, have done just that. If they can do it, by following the 3 principles we just laid out, you can too.
Now that you know how to plan a vacation that goes beyond any trip you’ve taken before, how can you avoid the post-vacation slump? How can you hold on to the mental clarity and fresh perspective you gained during your trip? How can you keep the stress you conquered from creeping back in? How can you turn a vacation experience from a memory into a transformational moment in your life?
We can tell you right now that it won’t happen automatically. To really harness the life-changing potential of your vacation, you need to follow a proven path. You need to invest effort and direct your focus to key elements of your vacation, before, during and after your trip.
In our next post, we’ll teach you how to bring your vacation experience into your everyday life in a powerful way. This is something that could very well change your life. You don’t want to miss it, so watch your inbox.
Martinez, Juan. “Has Technology Ruined Vacations for Small Business Owners?” PCMAG, PCMAG.COM, 31 Aug. 2017, www.pcmag.com/news/355894/has-technology-ruined-vacations-for-small-business-owners.
Rudd, Melanie, et al. “Awe Expands People’s Perception of Time, Alters Decision Making, and Enhances Well-Being.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 10 Aug. 2012, journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797612438731.