By: Susan Sherren for Couture Trips Published: March 29, 2002 5:45 PM
We all look forward with great anticipation to our well-deserved vacations. After months of planning, the big departure day arrives, our bags are packed, tickets purchased, and the itinerary is just the perfect mix of activities. It is not uncommon after this great anticipation, planning, and hype to experience fatigue while we are supposed to be enjoying our days away from work and routines. How can you combat hitting a wall of fatigue and exhaustion while on vacation? Be realistic in the planning phase. Pace yourself when you are away. Cramming two weeks' worth of activities into seven days will leave you frustrated and extremely tired. At Couture Trips, we incorporate a bell-curve planning method into our itineraries. Ease into your activities, make the midpoint of your vacation pulse with the most exciting and most active adventures, then wind it down again before departure.
Learn to combat jetlag While there isn't a cure for jetlag, you can learn some tips and tricks to combat this condition. Staying hydrated in flight will help you bounce back. Avoid lots of alcohol and eat a nutritious meal around 2 hours before your departure. Your body will have digested most of the food particles, and you can then load up on the liquids for the remainder of the flight. Another tip after you check into your hotel is to take a nice walk outside in the fresh air, maybe find a great park or wander around taking in the scenery. We like to schedule a walking tour on the arrival day to help offset the weariness of jetlag. Wear comfy walking shoes for your journey, or pack them on the top of your suitcase to check-in and walk off the fogginess after you land. Avoid hitting the bed if you're in a new time zone, even if it is 2 AM in your home zone.
Naptime is a good thing Schedule a few naps while you are away. There is nothing better than taking a nice relaxing bath, going to bed early, or just getting some shut-eye in the middle of the day. Consider a day at the beach or park to help your mind recover from all the activity.
Mix up your tours If your tours are all walking without many breaks, you'll likely hit the fatigue wall sooner. Mix in a few driving tours with the ambulatory type. Giving your feet a rest is an excellent way to pace yourself.
Down days Leisurely days are heavenly when you are away. Sometimes nothing scheduled is better than a frantic itinerary. We like to throw in a few "days at your leisure" into our clients' itineraries. Leaving time for exploring is a good way to clear your mind and prep for activities in the days ahead.
Avoid long days of driving If you've decided to take a road trip, avoid long days of driving. It will literally drain you. It is not safe to spend long hours on the road when tired. Plan to make frequent stops and try and see some fascinating sites along the way to break up the monotony. Another option is to opt for transportation via train. Trains are very efficient in Europe and are a great way to see the surrounding countryside, plus you don't have to get behind the wheel.
Keep a routine Try and keep some resemblance to your usual wake and sleep cycle. Your body won't protest as much if you keep to a schedule. Warning, European dinner hours are much later in the evening than those in the USA. If you are on holiday in Europe, maybe go for big on lunch and opt for a light dinner or snack to avoid becoming stranded into the late hours of the evening. You'll benefit from an early to rise, early to bed philosophy. The early mornings in some tourist areas are less crowded and more enjoyable. Especially in the summer, you'll see more before the sun is full-on and temperatures rise.
Embrace good eating habits Yes, it is hard to say no to sweets in Paris! Indulging in lots of sugar on your vacation will drain you and add to the fatigue. Pace yourself when you encounter luscious pastries and goodies. We often get requests to book fabulous dinners at Michelin Star restaurants, but every night or even every other night means you are asking for trouble. Take it easy when it comes to consuming very rich foods. Drinking lots of alcohol can also set you up for fatigue, dehydration, and an overall feeling of unwellness. Pacing yourself is vital in this department.
Adopting a good strategy before your departure will help you avoid or lessen travelers' fatigue. Know your limits and pace yourself. Savor your days away; they are precious.