How to Bring Your Vacation Back Home With You

It's the middle of July. Which means hot, sticky weather, plenty of ice cream, and VACATIONS, those magical, unstructured days full of frolicking and fun. My husband Greg and I took our big vacation a bit early this year (by New England standards), and went on our honeymoon at the end of May. Destination Central Europe: two weeks in Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. We had an incredible time; this is an amazing part of the world with delicious food and fascinating history. (If you have the opportunity to visit, don't think twice. A few of Greg's pictures appear at the end of this post.)

I have been lucky enough to visit Europe a few times, and I continue to marvel at how the experience feels so different from life here in the States. People linger in conversation for hours without a smartphone in sight. The few places that offer food "to go" have to advertise it explicitly, because the standard is to take time out to eat and drink instead of doing it en route to their next destination. Nobody on the street appears to be mock-sprinting to get where they're going next.

I feel so spacious there. Most days, I turn my phone off. I take very few pictures. I check my email only a handful of times. I fantasize about moving to a place where nobody is ever stressed.

Of course, I know enough about perspective to recognize one very important thing: I see what I want to see.

Yes, I think Europeans have fundamentally made some different cultural choices. And yes, I think it's always easier to follow the status quo than to go against the grain (especially if the status quo is intensive use of technology that's highly habit-forming). But I won't forget a conversation with one of the guides from our travel agency, a young Hungarian who, upon hearing me describe how relaxed I felt being in Europe, answered "Oh yes, I felt that way on vacation in Portugal." Not, I noted, "Oh yes, I feel that way every single day."

So there's more to it than a hop, skip and jump across the Atlantic. The real reason I feel so good on vacation is because I give myself permission to:

*be fully present: wherever I am, doing whatever I am doing

*put everything else on hold, especially anything that remotely feels like "work"

*disconnect, even from my closest family and friends who I love dearly

*balance what I am doing with how I am feeling (like take a nap instead of going to another museum once in a while)

Looking back at this list, it seems surprisingly manageable. These are choices I can continue to call into my life, and choices you can call in too.

Take a Saturday afternoon. Be present. Don't check your email. Respond to your texts tomorrow. And follow what feels good.

xo,

Kristen

P.S. If you like these pics, follow Greg on Instagram. :)

Prague: