It’s vacation season! Whether you’re trekking a mountain trail or hightailing it to the beach, taking a trip is the perfect time to recharge spiritually. Once, I stayed in a beach house with my husband, kids, and extended family, and left my phone on its charger in favor of savoring the ocean and reconnecting with those around me. On countless volunteer trips to secluded parts of Mexico, I was able to steal away and spend a few hours alone, reading, praying, and enjoying God’s presence. No matter where you’re going this season, or who you’re traveling with, you can use your time off to practice being more mindful, reboot your spiritual life, and reconnect with God. Here’s how:
Sure, we all know we’re way too connected to our tech, but still, most of us are stuck in our routine, thumbs constantly scrolling, necks craned, eyes glazed over—I certainly am. Use your vacation to give yourself a technology fast and reap the many spiritual (and even physical!) benefits. I tried this once for three full days, and it was really refreshing.
Trying using your vacation’s change of scenery to pull back on your tech habits and enjoy what’s right in front of you. Rather than always having your mind filled with something (whether it’s constant memes, political dialogue, or trendy insta-spaces), you’ll be creating space for prayer, reading, and meditation, not to mention you can really, truly enjoy and be present with the people you’re making memories with.
2. Go outside
Most summer vacations include some sort of outdoor adventuring, and while it’s tempting to spend your time in nature finding the perfect Instagram-worthy landscape, your phone will be safely tucked into your purse or backpack now that you’ve unplugged a little (right?)! With mine safely away, I was was more aware of the beautiful sunset and noticed the birds fluttering in and out of my view. It was amazing how much time I had, and how much more I actually enjoyed the outdoors when I wasn’t trying to choose the perfect filter for my pics. Whether you’ll be exploring a new city or a new natural surrounding, take time to notice the vast array of beauty in our world. Give thanks for each unique experience you have—the sound of the waves or the fresh, clean air in the mountains—and marvel in gratitude for creation.
3. Reconnect with others
Without expectations of work or home tugging at you from all directions, focus on spending quality time with loved ones. Play board games, go for walks, savor your meals, and have long chats on the back patio each evening. Rather than feeling hurried to do and see all your destination has to offer, use your time off work and regular duties to see the beauty and image of God in the people you’re with.
What does it mean to see God in someone? For me, it means realizing that though we all have faults, we’re all unique, and all of us have value—no matter what those faults or flaws may be. What better time than vacation—when you’re often sharing close quarters and spending more time than usual with others — to remember this? Growing in empathy for others can be difficult if you’re sharing a hotel room or you and your travel companions have different preferences about sightseeing v. relaxing. Vacation can bring out small annoyances or even deeper issues, but if you go into the trip looking for the good in others, you may be more patient, more loving, and even surprised by how much you enjoy yourself—and your companions.
4. Add a new spiritual discipline
Some say it takes 21 days to create a new habit—but why not use a break in your routine to try something different? Maybe you pray often but don’t get much time to read anything uplifting or spiritual. Pack two or three books you’ve been meaning to read. Or maybe you’re a nightly bookworm but can’t seem to stick to a regular prayer practice. Use your slow-moving vacation mornings to steal off by yourself for 10 minutes of solitude, prayer, and mindfulness. Journal about a few things you enjoyed or learned on your trip. Or download a guided meditation to your phone and listen to it while you’re getting ready for the day. You might even find a way to volunteer for a few days.
For me—a mom with a busy schedule and three very loud children—I planned on just being quiet and spending time alone with my own thoughts and with God last time I traveled. It was easier than usual, because my parents and husband were all around to help with the children and give me some much needed solitude. With the addition of that quiet time to my vacation, I went home feeling refreshed and ready to head back into my regular life with a more grounded attitude and some really great memories, both with my family and God.
Originally published June 19, 2019.