The Creative Benefits of Taking a Vacation


While I feel very fortunate to have the means to take a modest family vacation most summers, I often have mixed feelings about going (a true first-world problem). If things are busy, I’m wary of falling behind. And, even if business has slowed down, the thought of some sort of work disaster occurring while I’m out is always in the back of my mind. And those worries aren’t without precedent.

A few years ago, a hosting provider I dealt with had a massive outage just before I was supposed to head out for a week at the beach. Things got so bad that there was a chance that the trip would have to be cancelled. Thankfully everything worked out, lessons were learned and we did end up going on holiday. But the situation just underlines the stress of taking time away from your business – regardless of how much you really need it.

Still, a vacation can be a great opportunity to take a step back and recharge your brain a bit. Let’s have a look at the different ways some time away can benefit a creative mind.

Finding Inspiration in What You See

Being in a different locale, even if you’ve been there before, can bring about a whole different perspective on life. The mere fact that you’re not looking at the same four walls can be invigorating. There is certainly comfort in a favorite spot where you can get away from it all. That favorite restaurant, beach or museum calms the mind and subtly reminds you that you’re no longer under the pressures of everyday life.

But there’s also something very inspiring about experiencing a place for the first time. For instance, our family spent some time this year in Washington, DC. While we had been in parts of the city previously, we hadn’t yet visited the biggest tourist spots such as the National Mall or the Smithsonian museums. It was incredibly fun to explore and view historic sites that we’d only ever seen on TV or in books.

The most inspiring part for me had to be the July 4 fireworks display. The actual fireworks themselves were breathtaking – but they weren’t even my favorite part. What really amazed me was the very large, polite and diverse crowd with whom we shared the experience. My daughter and I had great fun counting the number of different languages we heard spoken. It truly felt as if we were a part of something much bigger than us.

But you don’t have to be in any sort of trendy tourist destination to find inspiration. Even if it’s just the town next door, you can reap the benefits of spending some time just walking around and soaking in the surroundings.

July 4th crowd at the National Mall.

The Pleasure in Having Nothing to Do

Do you ever notice yourself being in a constant hurry to take care of task after task? It’s often part of our daily grind but too much of it can lead to feeling burned out. It’s a sure-fire way to stifle creativity and lead you to dread coming into work each day.

This is where some time away from the office can do some real good – if you do things right. While it may be tempting to plan your trip down to the very smallest detail, it can really take the fun out of the experience. Remember that you’re trying to get away from work, after all. Forcing yourself (not to mention any companions who are along for the trip) to follow a rigid schedule can be very stressful.

Instead, you might consider a more relaxed approach. It’s certainly a good idea to plan out the things you want to do. But leave some wiggle room in your schedule for some spontaneous fun.

This was a lesson I learned the hard way. It usually takes me a day or two to fully decompress from my “work self”. But when I do, I find absolute joy in being able to do whatever I want while not having to face any hard deadlines.

There’s something beautiful about being a bit aimless and even a little lazy. These attributes don’t work so well in the office but are wonderful on vacation.

Ducks relaxing at the U.S. Capital.

Rediscovering What Matters

Being in the midst of that constant hustle to get things done can really overtake your life. It can result in simply taking those around you for granted. We’re so focused on keeping up that we tend to spend less quality time with loved ones. This is where some time away can do the most good.

Sure, families get on each other’s nerves. Look around and you’ll see no shortage of that. But it’s also about just spending that time together and actually paying some real attention to each other. Sharing the sights, sounds and tastes of a different place together may just provide the ultimate reboot for your soul.

And, even after you come back to all the challenges of everyday life, you’ll still be left with something very precious: Memories of your experience. They’re something you can go back to anytime you need that little extra boost to get back to work.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.

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