Archive | January 2016

Awesome Cities in the US To Take a Staycation

download (33)Rest and recreation doesn’t always have to entail traveling all the way to the other side of the world. While the idea sounds very tempting, there are times that you just need to take a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It doesn’t have to be some place remote either-a brief and temporary change of environment will do the trick.

Have you ever had a staycation? The United States is filled with hundreds of staycation-friendly cities. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites to help you pick the destination where you can spend 3-5 days to reboot, relax, and rejuvenate.

Las Vegas, Nevada. Need we say more? A few nights in the sin city is definitely one of the best ways to have a staycation. They have some of the world’s luxury hotels. If you’re idea of a staycation mostly involves getting a massage, dialing room service for food, or just staying in, then you’re in the right place. If you have something else in mind, though, like trying your luck in the casino, Las Vegas surely won’t disappoint!

Tampa, Florida. For most people, staycations in Tampa mean soaking up the sun and hitting the beach. That’s a good way to spend a few days in the city because the beaches in Tampa are some of the finest the United States has to offer. Not in the mood for swimming or sunbathing? That’s perfectly fine because it just means you have more time to sample Tampa’s amazing restaurants. Most of them are located in Tampa Bay, so if you’re up for some great eats, we recommend that you may the bay your first stop.

Portland, Oregon. If you want the whole package-food, fun, rest and recreation, Portland, Oregon is definitely a good choice. Find culinary gems in the food carts around the city, give your legs a workout and cycle through its bike-friendly road (while you’re at it, breeze through some of the city’s funky neighborhoods), or reconnect with the nature and hike through some of Oregon’s iconic trails. A fair warning if you have future staycation plans in Oregon, though-be ready to fall in love with the city that you might actually want to move in!

Birmingham, Alabama. One of the best reasons why Birmingham is one of the best places to have a staycation in is because it’s so low-key that it’s easy to blend in. For example, you can attend one of the free fitness classes at Railroad Park like a true local. There are also a lot of nooks around the city that could be a perfect spot for you to catch up on your reading list while sipping on a cup of Birmingham coffee.

Which ever of this city you will stay, you’re bound to find a luxury hotel that suits your needs and feels like home. Channel your inner tourist and don’t waste a moment to refreshed and recharged!

 

Top Tips for Getting Away From It All, Without Actually Getting Away

download (32)I have just booked a holiday, the kind of holiday I have never booked before… an all inclusive week long spa break. I have almost always gone away in search of something; adventure, creativity, exploration (of self and the world), romance, culture, learning… but now I know all this is available on my own doorstep I feel less of a need for a holiday and strangely, I feel like I need to need this kind of holiday!

This got me thinking and in a recent survey I did in my own head, it seems that many people reach a certain point, let’s call it a breaking point, and decide they need a holiday. The ten main reasons for going on holiday, according to the aforementioned survey, were as follows;

1) Need to get away from work/life stress

2) To relax

3) To get quality time with loved ones

4) Habit – “we always get away at this time of year.”

5) A break from the norm

6) A new experience/different culture

7) To have some fun – nightlife, a sporting event, or just an adventure.

8) To get some sun/a tan (so that you can feel happy/look healthy)

9) It’s on my bucket list – “I’ve always wanted to go there.”

10) Facebook is showing that everyone else is doing it and I need some new pics to get everyone jealous.

The funny thing about holidays is that sometimes booking them seems to add stress. For example, people often book their two week break, and then spend months telling others (before and after) that they can’t afford anything else because they have just paid for/been on their holidays (which of course must include a whole new wardrobe and toiletry stock up). There are also those that worry about their work, either before they go, desperately trying to tie up ALL lose ends (they can’t possibly delegate), or whilst away, or when they come back to hundreds of emails. This kind of thinking is what makes some believe they can’t take a break at all.

So how can you get the same results that a holiday gives you, without actually going on holiday?

Here are my top tips for getting away from it all, without actually getting away:

1) Make the most of your free time – don’t just come home on a Friday night and eat dinner in front of the TV. Plan a date night; a quick drink after work or a dinner date does not cut into your chill out time, it’s part of it!

2) Schedule in a couple of hours at the weekend or an evening in the week to do something for you. Get creative, read a book quietly in a cafe, or simply sit in a warm bath. Make sure other people are aware this is happening and it’s for you… not to get away from them, but to reconnect with yourself. Equally, schedule in quality time with loved ones – a lift to football practice or food shopping with your partner does not count!

3) Think good thoughts and you really don’t notice the rain… and share that with others, smile at strangers.

4) Have a themed night in. Mexico, Italy, France, Asia..get everyone to bring a dish using unusual fruit and veg, get dressed up, find some tunes, decorate the dining room, rent a relevant movie… bring the culture to you.

5) Once a month turn a weekend into an adventure – jump on a random bus, stick your finger on a map, make a list of places you want to go and can get to, put the ideas in a hat and pick one, or simply take a walk and get off the beaten track. The key here is to be excited about what you might discover.

6) Have a night out with the girls – slap on some fake tan and bust out the summer time tunes as you get glammed up.

7) Focus on what you have got – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, grateful people are so much happier than those always chasing something else. Write a gratitude dairy every couple of days and reflect when needed.

8) Relax – meditate, swim, do a yoga/mindfulness class, have a lay in… whatever works for you, do it… and do it often.

9) Really look at things around you in wonder – see things differently and you will find many wonders already in your world.

10) Be silly – letting your hair down isn’t just for children or when alcohol is involved. Go dance in the kitchen and sing in the street!

BONUS TIP – Love what you do. (And if you don’t love what you do, get a coach. OK, so I’m biased, but some of the most successful people I know have had help to unpack their suitcase full of overwhelm and feel free without having to take flight.)

This entry was posted on January 23, 2016, in Travel and tagged , .

Ten Reasons You Should Take a Daycation

images (9)A daycation is simply a day vacation. It’s a close cousin of the “staycation,” with the advantage that at just one day it requires very little planning. Is it sounding appealing yet?

But before you get too carried away, it’s worth pointing out the ironic twist in taking a daycation: in our fast-paced, whirlwind lives the thought of taking a day off can sometimes make us feel anxious.

But wait! That’s not what vacation is supposed to do!

Maybe we feel like there are too many people counting on us or that we may compromise our responsibilities. Maybe we feel guilty about taking a day off when everyone else has to show up for work.

If we can get past that, the appeal of a daycation is self-evident:

  • Small commitment
  • Minimal planning
  • Affordable or free

So let’s be honest: The only thing stopping us from taking a daycation is… you got it: US.

When you think about what might be stopping you from taking a day off, really think about what you feel you would jeopardize. Start by taking a little time to think about any feelings of guilt, fear or anxiety. You can even write them down to look at them objectively. Then ask yourself: “Realistically, will things really fall apart if I take a day off?”

And just in case you’re still not convinced, here are ten good reasons why you should consider taking a daycation before too long:

  1. Disruption fosters creativity. Shake up the routine!
  2. Taking a daycation means you are taking a stand for yourself.
  3. Creating space can invite clarity into a life situation.
  4. Determining how you will spend a full day puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life.
  5. If you are feeling over-extended, reclaiming a day for yourself is a generous act of self-kindness.
  6. Especially with hectic schedules, having a full day to spend as you see fit is like taking a big deep breath for 24 hours.
  7. You are almost sure to see/hear/experience you wouldn’t have in a “normal” day.
  8. Inviting someone you love to share a daycation with you can create a very special memory.
  9. You can absolutely “play hookie” from your life for a day and remain a responsible adult.
  10. There will never, ever be a day exactly like this again.

Do some reasons resonate more than others? In today’s culture of always wanting to do more, you shouldn’t be surprised if more than one of these reasons rings true for you.

So… what are you doing tomorrow?

Written by Lisa at Happy Holidays Guides.

This entry was posted on January 18, 2016, in Travel and tagged .

Southern California Family Vacation Without the Crowds

download (31)If you live in Southern California, you know that summer brings out the crowds-visitors from around the country and around the world.. That means it’s hard to go anywhere without running into lots of people and traffic-two main ingredients that makes kids (and parents) cranky.

One place that seems to have held on to its laid-back California charm and has lots of kid-friendly fun is Ventura, particularly the three cities known as VenturaCountyWest (Camarillo, Oxnard and Ventura). Located up the 101 Freeway north from Los Angeles, VenturaCountyWest features uncrowded beaches (with free parking), ocean adventures and tons of easy-to-get-to kids’ summer activities. Here are some to check out.

Channel Islands National Park

Take a tour boat to the Channel Islands National Park out of either Ventura or Channel Islands (Oxnard) harbors. The islands are only 11 miles off the Ventura County coast. On the way, you can see dolphins, seals, pelicans and other wildlife. Hikes, overnight stays, kayaking are all available once arriving on shore. Tours are booked through Island Packers, http://www.islandpackers.com/.

Ventura Harbor Village

Ventura Harbor Village contains an arcade featuring an old-fashioned indoor carousel, arcade and a candy shop with more than 20 varieties of fudge (made fresh daily). Families can rent paddle and electric boats to tour the quiet harbor channels. Back on shore, plan on eating at one of the casual harbor side restaurants featuring freshly caught seafood. http://www.venturaharborvillage.com.

Ventura County Fairgrounds’ Raceway

“Midget” cars, motorcycles and all sorts of other racing vehicles take to the track almost every weekend at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Ventura. It’s all good fun as you cheer on your favorite driver.

Gull Wings Children’s Museum

This children’s museum in Oxnard is very unassuming from the outside, but once inside, the eight and under set will have so much to do and see that they won’t know where to begin. They can dress up as firefighters, doctors or pretend they are astronauts landing on the moon in an Apollo spacecraft. There are snakes to hold, treasure to find in a geological dig and plenty of Legos to build whatever they wish. Kids can try their hand at rock wall climbing or let their imaginations go while in the driver’s seat of an actual car.

Sky High Sports

You won’t find a big sign announcing Sky High Sports Camarillo from the freeway. It’s in an industrial park-it has to be-the place is huge. It’s filled with trampolines with super padded floors and walls. Kids can play trampoline dodge ball and other organized games or… just jump. All under supervision. Sky High also has laser tag. Kids are sure to come out sweaty and tired-a perfect way to spend an afternoon.