3 Biggest Mistakes People Make on Vacation

How to have a great vacation

So I’ve had six weeks off. Six weeks away from online noise. Six weeks free from days spent hunched over my computer, with tight shoulders and the general feeling that life was passing me by.

Although much-needed, six weeks languishing at home in Noosa, one of the world’s best travel destinations, wasn’t what you’d think. So here’s advice on how to have a great vacation by avoiding these three biggest mistakes people make when they take a holiday.

1. Expecting the vacation to be different from usual life

All my precious time off wasn’t used productively ticking things off my bucket-list because I don’t have many unfulfilled dreams left.

Mostly I read, cooked and did my level best to entertain the kids. Most days I went for long walks and spent time at the beach. Most of the things I did were in the company of at least one child who didn’t want to be there, doing that, and made their position quite clear.

Either that or I was accompanied by guilt at having left the kids home alone pursuing their seemingly endless passion for Minecraft and other computer games I fear are damaging their creativity and eye-sight.

Sometimes I hung out with friends and laughed but more often I cried.

I was bored, restless and wondering what the point of it all was. Wondering why I pushed myself to work so hard last year and why having my children at home for six weeks is so hard. Wondering why I couldn’t seem to enjoy these perfect family moments with my school-aged brood, these precious years in between changing diapers and being an empty nester with too much time on my hands.

With the computer turned off and no other distractions suddenly I had time to think. But none of my thoughts came to anything because they were all interrupted by demands from hot, tired, hungry children.

2. Going cold turkey on work

Still, some things were clear. I worked hard last year, maybe too hard, because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. I thought it was what I had to do to stand a chance of being anywhere near as good as the big time bloggers I look up to.

So I spent too much time trying to be more productive and beating myself up for always falling short when I should have been following my old pattern of slacking off as much as possible because, honestly, that’s the life success formula that works best for me.

But I couldn’t just stop work altogether so during my vacation I played with my iPhone, practised my iPhoneography and downloaded new apps which will help me take better photos, edit them more professionally and create fun collages to document my adventures. If that sounds good to you follow me on Instagram and get the iPhone Photography ebook by Misho Baranovic at the Digital Photography School.

And I enjoyed using technology because I wasn’t driven by productivity or the need to improve myself. I was driven by my love of learning and by creativity because photography’s fun and like capturing nature, scenery and my ever-changing children. They look great in photos, it’s just having them around me all the time which sends me nutty.

3. Not allowing enough time to switch off and eliminate stress

When I got desperate I browsed the latest blog posts on my two favourite topics of travel and social media but nothing really caught my eye. It didn’t matter what the other travel bloggers were up to and which of them had been invited on what trips. I didn’t want to read the spin about anyone else’s vacations and I didn’t want to hear about social media or why I should be creating more products to sell, sell, sell.

Slowly, slowly I realised that the house-wifey stuff is my true calling and that I work to live not vice versa. I remembered that real life is mundane, even if you’ve created the tropical beach and family lifestyle you dreamed of.

I realised the only thing stopping me from enjoying this life is my ego. The belief that I should be making my mark on the world somehow. The idea that I should be striving to improve my business, myself and my finances when they are all quite good enough already.

So the six-week vacation was a wake up call and the new skills I learnt in the iPhone Photography ebook mean that when I start working again and go on media trips I can get my photo editing done faster and do it on the road.

Which means I won’t have to spend so much time hunched over my computer when I’m at home and, in future, the transition between work mode and vacation time should be less painful.

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It’s good to be back. What the heck have you been up to? How do you handle vacation time?

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  1. Johanna at ZigaZag February 7, 2013 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Oh I can so relate, Annabel. This constant urge to ‘do something’ ‘be something’ and make our mark on the world, but I think you should know it only gets worse when you become an empty nester! I also related to the humdrum domesticity and how that really is the real thing, what’s really important and grounded. But when the kids have upped and gone you want it all back so badly – even though you’re still not quite sure, and haven’t worked out, how you would deal with entertaining them in places they don’t want to be entertained!

    • Annabel Candy February 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Johanna,

      Lol, it gets worse?! Oh no :) Sounds like this isn’t going to go away…

  2. Catherine White February 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    An interesting perspective Annabel, thanks for sharing your journey.

    As for myself, I was once very driven, but the sad losses of my husband and son shifted my focus, and I’m glad it has.

    Just when I thought I was on my feet, a little over a year ago I became ill with a mysterious lack of energy, shaking and other odd physical symptoms.

    I believe this is the result of ten years of enormous losses on top of that which I’ve mentioned.

    There’s nothing like illness to confront us with our vulnerability, and mortality. Indeed, it’s very humbling to be reliant on others when you are unable to walk up the street, or unable to earn money to contribute to household expenditure.

    I can honestly say I’m glad for the journey, I am a better person for it, I haven’t always felt I was a better person, until I was confronted with physical illness. Until then, I was still angry, lacking peace and poise. But now, I can hear it in my tone. I’m less defensive, and certainly a little more open.

    Even so I want to finish editing the body of work I shot in New York, and above all, travel again. There is talk I may be going to Jerusalem to work which thrills me to the core. To be in that part of the world, might intimidate others, but excites me no end.

    Travelling enlarges you, and introduces us to what’s important. Your travels and travel records are the legacy you give your children

    Thank you for sharing your insights Annabel. All the best with your new interest in iPhoneography. X

    • Annabel Candy February 7, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Catherine,

      I can imagine that terrible loss would shake your world. So sorry to hear about your more recent illness too. I didn’t know about that but I did notice you stopped blogging and missed your photos and stories.

      It sounds like you have some brilliant plans. I’ve been to Jerusalem and so hope you go there so we can see your urban photos of such an incredible city. The refugee camps in Bethlehem were the biggest eye opener for me.

      I’ve always loved photography but never indulged in it seriously. The iPhone makes it so easy to take, edit and share photos and it’s fun too.

      Let’s hope we all manage to find a balance between making our dreams come true and wearing ourselves out chasing them.

  3. Linda @EcoTraveller February 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Welcome back :)
    Sounds like you had a fab time off, and that six weeks away is probably what everyone could do with to put things into perspective. I know I constantly struggle with what I want to do/what I think I should do, and what I actually do; and more often than not I think of packing it all in as juggling blogging/freelancing and being a mum to two little ones is sometimes so hard. Why do I do it to myself? Why can’t we just be happy with our lot?

    I guess it comes from that deep drive to be successful. No matter what we do. I would love to just unplug and leave it all, which I have done once in a while, but there’s something that keeps pulling me back, sucking me in, wanting to keep going and succeed. And while I have that drive I need to feed it in the same way I need to /want to spend precious time with my kiddies. It’s all about finding the happy balance, isn’t it? And yeah, I’m still searching for that one :)

    Happy instagramming!

    • Annabel Candy February 7, 2013 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda,

      So glad to know I’m not alone. Maybe it’s just part of the human condition these days… Ah, the instagram is great, thank you :)

  4. Cate February 8, 2013 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel
    Someone once said that life wasn’t meant to be easy, but, honestly, I don’t think it was meant to be as complex as we all seem to think we have to make it, either. I can think of nothing better than having the time to just spend quiet days at home, getting things done without any big rush, long walks, a glass of wine on the veranda, watching the sunset… and yet, it seems to be the human condition to always want something more. I guess it is what has driven the species along the road of evolution and technology. So, we wear ourselves out, feeding someone else’s version of what a successful life is all about. Once in a while we need to reflect on what is important to us… sounds like you have done just that.
    Oh, and don’t worry about the kids… they grow up and become your best friends. Really. And then you get grandchildren…
    Cate xx

    • Annabel Candy February 8, 2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

      Hi Cate,

      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. Reading your comment has made me notice that this is a cycle I need to break and I’m smiling so much at the last lines. I hope so – that would be another dream come true :)

  5. Carolyn @ Holidays to Europe February 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I, too, had some time off recently to do the normal ‘housewife and mum’ stuff and I have to admit, I loved it. It gave me time to think about what is really important and ask myself why I’ve been working crazily and running around like a mad thing for the past couple of years!

    So, in 2013, I’m going to chill out a bit and just do the things I’m really passionate about. If that means less posts on my website (but posts of better quality and about things I REALLY love), then so be it. It’s time to get back out and smell the roses instead of sitting in front of a computer five days a week.

    Bring it on, I say!

  6. Seana February 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Maybe six week soff is too much?? I did enjoy keeping it pottering along, but blogging is much easier when the school days are more clear.

    A break’s brilliant for clarity indicement though and it sounds like there was heaps of that. That iphone photo book is great, isn’t it? I must go back and practise as I haven’t done enough.

    Personally I seem to be totally losing the will to work… blogging counds more as pleasure than work luckily!

    • Annabel Candy February 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Oh no, I don’t think it’s long enough! Six months would be great and a year ideal. Trouble is you never really get a break at all when you’re a parent.

      Yes, the iPhoneography book is fab and like you I love my blogging but I think it’s important to take a break from it so it stays fun!

  7. Jim O'Donnell February 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    The part about having enough time to “power down” is a big one. So often I’ll take 3-4 days off and only like…1.5 days of it is any good cause I had to get into it and chill out. And then I’m, painfully, back at it.

    • Annabel Candy February 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Jim,

      Oh that’s terrible. Still I think you’re doing well to even chill for 1.5 days as so many people can’t even do that. Let’s make a pact to practice more until we can pick up and drop out of work at the drop of a hat :)

  8. Geri Dreiling February 12, 2013 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel,

    Thank you for your post. I can relate to much of what you write. When I’m working, I think I should be spending time with my busy teens. When I’m with my teenagers, I think I should be working. And when I’m working on one project, I think about all of the other projects that need to be done.

    I find meditation and exercise help bring me focus on the present. I also like pruning as a concept that applies to life and work as well the garden.

    Finally, as someone who spends a lot of time writing, I also recently discovered the joy of photography as a refreshing, creative outlet. I haven’t hopped on Instagram yet but it is on the list.

    Thanks again for your honest and inspiring post.


  9. Desolie February 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Hey Annabel

    Time out to reassess and reinvigorate is essential, especially for small business people. So glad you took that time.

    I can see more polish to your writing now, but I feel some of your verve, grab-it-with-both-hands enthusiasm, conquer the world is missing – but that may very well be because of the nature of this post. :-)

    Continue to enjoy finding your ‘this is who I am’ voice, and I’m sure we’ll see that as the refining process continues.


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