The One Thing Important about Vacations You Can’t Afford to Miss

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Campfire during our boys and girls scout camping in Rizal, Laguna.

Sleeping, cooking and eating outdoors with makeshift tools and equipment—what better things can you do on summer vacation? If you get less busy on other months, the more you should get less busy on summer, or else you waste it altogether. And the important thing is to keep everything simple on vacation trips.

But the temptation is to plan too many sightseeing trips, going to so many places and just exhausting yourself in the process without really seeing and enjoying anything in the end. That’s wasted vacation. I learned that lesson last summer when we went all over Ilocandia trying to see everything but practically saw nothing after. We just got tired, badly needing rest and relaxation when we got home, defeating the very purpose of a vacation.

Don’t you go on vacation to refresh and relax? It’s not supposed to be work. Vacation is when we escape from work—anything that looks like work—as far away as we could. But we miss this point and make vacation another tedious work for us. Yeah, I think we’ve become too addicted with work that we can’t imagine life (or vacation) without it. And that’s bad. A lot of folks equate exhaustion with accomplishment, productivity, success and…vacation.

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Camping in Rizal, Laguna during scouting last summer.

We find it hard to think that relaxation and zero work is often more productive. We think busyness somehow makes us accomplish much. We don’t see how busyness is often just idleness—your body keeps moving but your soul and spirit keeps idle. Now, let’s try to see things this way—God accomplished a lot when he created the universe in 6 days. But he accomplished a lot more when he rested since the seventh day.

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Igloo Log Cabin Lodge Tent and Screen Porch. Click image for more.

 

Vacation is when you “recharge.” You’re like an overspent battery and you need to recharge. So you go away from what drains your power and go somewhere to restore energy and zest for life. Work drains but vacation rejuvenates. Keep that in mind. Well, some folks claim their work recharges instead of drains. But you look at them and you see “drained” written all over their faces. But they deny that, insisting they’re charged.

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God designed everything with a need for replenishment. Imagine if the seas and oceans all just gave away water and were never replenished. Even land is designed to have Sabbaths so they can recover from continuous plowing and planting which drain their fertility. Farming technicians I’ve talked to agree. And it’s actually during rest and relaxation that you become more productive. Look at how an article in the New York Times put it:

Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

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Truth is, you’re more productive not when you do more work but when you gain more in your person. Genuine productivity is when you become a better individual, especially in character and life. And this happens more during quiet times of pondering and reflection, times when you just roam around quietly watching life and nature and the awesome small details in them so that you begin to have a better and clearer perspective of life. You realize simple satisfaction is what makes life truly meaningful, not the successes the world urges us to have. That’s a real, honest-to-goodness vacation.

A good vacation makes you see all that. Sightseeing is good, so are selfies showing the places you have been to, but unless you get the insight on life I mentioned above, your vacation is just an extension of work, exhaustion and a waste of time. You go home all exhausted and needing more time to rest before you go back to work. Ridiculous, isn’t it? You took a vacation to get tired and drained.

So I make it a point to just limit my movement when I’m on vacation. I’d stay most of the time in a home base, like a hotel perhaps or a hut in the outskirts of town, and probably see one or two other places nearby for sightseeing, and then that’s it. Or go nowhere else at all. I’d rather enjoy my immediate surroundings, enjoy the local native fruits and food dishes, talk to local folks or meditate and enjoy the natural calm and peace, taking in a lot of fresh air. I’d rather walk around the vicinity and feel what life is like there.

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Scouts cooking hotdogs over bonfire. But when I was their age as a boy scout, we cooked real food over fire.

Real vacation is a chance to connect with real life again and be purified of the synthetic and pretentious life the city affords you daily (with its synthetic food and polluted air, too). It’s a chance to be one with nature again. Don’t screw it with your hectic sightseeing plans and overcrowded schedules. Some folks are experts at ruining their vacations and think it’s fun. All they care is post pictures on their social media accounts to brag about places they’ve been to. So they hurry up going here and there. That’s not vacation. That’s stupid work again. And very expensive at that.

I remember a camping trip we had in Baguio City as grade school boys scouts decades back. We pitched two tents on a steep hill in a forested area of Teachers Camp and made our makeshift outhouse from tree branches and leaves and sacks and perched it on the side of a cliff. It had a grand view of the small valley below—imagine how exciting and breath-taking it was to relieve yourself. We enjoyed that camp so much because we did nothing but explore the wilderness around watching the wildlife. We didn’t go elsewhere sightseeing.

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And we enjoyed cooking outdoors so much, gathering firewood from the thickets around (and eating wild strawberries) and seeing wild rabbits cross the narrow hiking paths we took. And the site of white mists settling gently on top of the tall pine trees around and the cool fresh air lent a right atmosphere for reflection and rumination.

After camping, we emerged from the experience recharged and more mature and responsible grade school boy scouts. We knew better about life and growing up. Yup, you can say we were never the same again.