I just came back from a nearly month long honeymoon. We had an amazing time, thank you very much, and I’ve been getting lots of compliments about how refreshed and recharged I seem. So in the spirit of sharing, here are my top tips for not screwing up your vacation and actually coming back refreshed!
1) Commit to the experience – You can be at work the rest of the year; commit to a theme for you and your special friend, especially how you’ll want to show up on the vacation.  Is this about discovery?  Creation? Endings? Make the theme meaningful and have fun with it. It’s the backdrop for how you’ll plan out your trip.
2) Tune Out – Stop being a hero and hand the work over to a coworker. That means no email or voicemail checks at all during the trip. Trust me; that update from your coworker is not that important, and it carries the risk that it’ll be on your mind for a few days or the entire trip.  
3) Let it go – Vacations come with heat, crowds, cost, and other undesirable things. Vacations are never perfect, so quit pinching pennies, getting worked up about crowds, or the heat, or your hungry tummy.  The “not so great” parts of the trip are all necessary to have the really juicy meaningful parts, so have a really great time with them. Waiting for luggage, for example, can turn into a fun people watching experience with your travel partner if you let it. Why stress?
4) Tune In – If you’re with someone special, make this about the two of you creating special memories. Be tender with each other, and indulge the other’s interests and needs.  For example, I love to take pictures and my partner may take a few here and there, so he chills out and let’s me do my thing. In return, I watch myself to not get carried away and to make sure we’re both well fed and hydrated so our charming side stays in charge. 
Mark and I have a phrase “appreciation time-out” that we like to use when we’re both really connected to the present moment. It allows us to take a mental picture and soak up what’s so right about our lives right then and there. That goes double about your appreciation with your spouse or special friend – let the moment carry you to new places and find all sorts of wonderful things to celebrate about the other person, and your shared journey. Life is amazing onto itself, let alone finding someone so special that you can live your life together and actually enjoy it. If that’s more a concept than a reality for you right now, hang onto that belief and someone will come into your life. Trust me – it’ll happen.

5) Return to your five year old self – Remember that kid who couldn’t stop learning with the huge spirit of discovery and wonderment? It’s within all of us if we allow it to emerge, and the benefit is that now those experiences are fused with an appreciation (hopefully) of other cultures and ways of living life.  This is your time to try new foods, drinks, to see that show, or to walk down that path that caught your curiosity. Don’t hold back, let yourself absorb the moment fully and you’ll see the day stretch out longer than your past vacations.

Finally, remember that someday things will be different. Celebrate the people and experiences in your life. Enjoy!