How was your last holiday? Here’s a guess. Three frantic days of work so you could safely put the out-of-office on, a last-minute wobble over whether to bring your laptop, then a mad dash to jam in as many ‘must-see’ sights as possible without ever straying too far from an internet cafe. Sounds about right? Unless you decided to flip the script entirely and go coconuts on the beach for the duration, it’s likely you’re one of the many, many people who returns from their travels more stressed than they left. In a recent study from the journal , researchers found that, out of 1,500 subjects, almost none reported any change in happiness after a typical vay-cay – and the various stresses abroad, from unfamiliarity with local customs and dealing with details to a perceived lack of safety were all contributing factors.
It’s time to make a change. Not by giving it all up for a staycation – you’re better than that – but by changing the way you think about holidays. Plenty of people still fancy nothing more than a couple of museums or a chance at some #nofilter snaps on the ski slopes, but in the age of Airbnb, ultra-budget airlines and the self-erecting tent there are more ways to take a break than ever. Cast your eyes over the alternatives, and book a break worthy of the name.
Time off: 4-8 weeks
Some things – cliff jumping, 20-hour bus rides, getting violently ill from Thai street food – just aren’t as much fun when you’re in your 60s…so putting off your bucket list until retirement isn’t as smart as it might sound. The mini-retirement, pioneered by author Tim Ferriss, suggests an alternative strategy: an extended period off, for both fun and self-reflection, letting you relax and immerse yourself in a new country. The result? Less stress, since you’re not hitting a new spot as soon as you’ve adapted to the last one.
How to do it: It’s not strictly for the self-employed – but you’ll need to hoard your holiday, negotiate with your employer (explain why the break will make you a better-adjusted worker) or be prepared to find a new job once you get back. While you’re doing that, pick your country – Ferriss recommends Argentina – and think medium-term apartment rentals rather than hotels, and consider putting your stuff in storage to save on rent.