Is Vacation Good For You?

My family is finishing a fantastic week-long vacation in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee.  We highly recommend Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for any family with small or medium-sized children, couples, honeymooners, or anyone else who is looking for a family-friendly destination with plenty to do and see.

I haven’t had a weeklong vacation in quite some time.  My partners, unfortunately, take even less vacation time than I do.  There is evidence that going without dedicated downtime increases burnout in all professions.  We all need time away!

This week I was forced to be more “unplugged” than I really wanted to be, because our rental condo had spotty-to-nonexistent wifi service.  I missed my midweek blog post (sorry for that, guys!) and had to hang out at Starbucks with my iPad to get out an email for Earth Day.  Sigh.

However, in spite of missed emails and phone calls and Facebook posts and tweets, it was good to get away and spend some time with my family.  Before I tell you why vacation is good for you, let me tell you about our trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Here are some highlights:

We spent a day at Wonderworks which is an interactive science museum and indoor amusement park.  The highlight was the rock wall and the three-story ropes challenge!  In the evening we saw a wonderful magic show by Merlin-award-winning magician Terry Evanswood and got an autographed poster 🙂

Terry is so approachable, down-to-earth and genuine.  He truly loves kids, loves teaching and (after over 5000 shows in almost 18 years performing) is the consummate professional.  He was happy to pose for pictures too!

MagicTerry is also a master marketer!  We were happy to buy his how-to DVD and now my seven-year-old son knows how to levitate his brother.  We haven’t seen him perform it yet though…

Another highlight of the trip was finally getting to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  We’ve been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge 3 times and this was the first time we went to the Aquarium.  It was fantastic!  The penguin exhibit was my favorite.  My mom and I both love penguins.

PenguinsMy favorite activity this trip (and actually my favorite on all 3 of our trips to Tennessee) was riding horseback.  We tried a new stable this time, Five Oaks Riding Stables, which also offers ziplines and a ropes challenge course.  Next time we’ll try the other attractions.  We ran out of time!

My boys are getting to be good little horsemen!  Nick rode by himself this time, not on a lead rein, and did great.  I was given a horse named Doc (to everyone’s amusement).

HorsebackSo is vacation good for you?  Yes, absolutely, and I’ll tell you 3 reasons why it IS good for you.

1.  Leave work behind.  It’s good to leave the stress of your job behind and decompress for a little while.  Even though I love my job I can tell when I go back to work I will be much happier and less prone to let the little irritations get under my skin.

2.  Spend time with family.  It’s easy to take those you love for granted when you’re running from work to activities to household chores.  When you get away for a little while, it’s easier to reconnect and get to know each other again.

3.  Meet new people and see new things.  It’s easy to get stuck in the same old ways of thinking, the same old ways of doing things when you don’t take a chance to get away.

Do you have to take a whole week and drive 8 hours away from home to get the benefits of a vacation?  Absolutely not!  An overnight in Amish country or tenting out at a campground will do the same thing.  Just make sure to look around you with fresh eyes, and focus on the people you love.

QUESTION:  Where did you go on your last vacation?