Send your mind on Vacation!

After basking in another beautiful sunset in Poneloya Beach, Nicaragua, I could not help but take in a another deep sigh–Pure relief and relaxation– I was finally far, far away from my old 7-day-2-job-work-week routine! Here, an ocean away from the gridlock traffic on I-4, the nearest shopping mall is an hour away. I don’t have a car but you know that’s just fine with me because what really matters is that I am only 10 yards away from the pool bar, where my next delicious tropical cocktail – made from exotic tropical fruits I’ve never heard of before – is being mixed by the friendly bartender with the gorgeous smile. And, “Yes!” my favorite Bob Marley tune is tickling my ears as I glance over at the sumptuous buffet heaping with delicacies I can’t wait to treat my stomach to! Ahhhh Paradise…

There is something therapeutic about watching a beautiful sunset as it slowly fades into the Pacific Ocean. Besides thinking how I could mentally jot this all down to share it with you later, my mind is free of any thoughts that would disturb my appreciation of the most beautiful landscape I could ever imagine.

Studies have shown that unless you are mentally “disconnected” from all the electronic media (and that means all things internet), you will be less likely to derive any benefits from vacationing and in fact can cause more harm than good. But are you REALLY going on vacation when you take along your laptop, blackberry, ipad, and cell phone while you stay connected to all your email and social media apps?

Taking time out of your busy life schedule for real rest and relaxation, gives you time to reflect, to sort out life issues that may be resting heavily on your psyche and creates an important and necessary balance.

Countless studies have shown the positive effects of rest and relaxation on the Human Body. One such study was called The FRAMINGHAM HEART STUDY. The researchers at Boston University published their results back in 1992 and concluded that women who took vacations less than once yearly were more likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease than women who took multiple vacations each year.

With all the talk lately about terrorism, TSA screenings and ridiculous airline mishaps, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that a majority of would-be vacationers (mostly women) have significant reservations about leaving home for a bit of mind clearing activities. It’s unfortunate that more time in the media has not been spent on the significant health benefits a real vacation will provide you.

Here are some important things to consider that would make sense and compelling reasons for planning a regular series of annual vacations:

EXERCISE– For a majority of us, a typical 40 hour work week finds you sitting behind a desk, on your computer, sitting hours on a train commuting back and forth to work, or schlepping kids around from point A to point B in that minivan. Or maybe your daily exercise routine consists of merely walking from one meeting down the hall to another. You’ll find that while on vacation you have many more opportunities to walk and get physically fit. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever experienced trekking up to the top of a volcano, or walked along some of the side streets in Jamaica. If you ever decide on vacationing in Central , South America or Europe, be prepared to bring comfortable walking shoes, because most of the travel “must sees” are not accessible by car and usually require a long hike or walk.

SPAS-Nothing rejuvenates a body more than a relaxing hot stone massage in a secluded cabina on a hilltop, with a tropical rainforest as a backdrop. Can you feel it? No matter where your destination is, you can rest assured there is a spa waiting for you. Even some of the most remote places in the world have places you can go for exotic spa treatments including facials, massages, saunas and lots of other skin and body treatments.

The perfect vacation should include a day visit to a spa, with a soothing massage and a facial. Here are some facts you should get to know about a massage and why it’s extremely important to have one regularly:
1. It improves the metabolic wastes and releases toxins from the body.
2. It increases your metabolic rate which in turns burns calories which then promotes weight
loss.
3. It helps normalize your blood pressure levels.
4. It lowers Cholesterol, boosts your immune and digestive system.
5. It reduces aches and pains in the muscles and joints.

FRIENDSHIPS
I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most helpful and interesting people in my life with my travels around the seas. People I’m sure I never would have met, had I stayed in my comfortable neighborhood community. Not even my membership in several professional and trade organizations gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people from all across the globe. My travels have allowed me to interact and bond with some of the most incredible people on the planet. I met an amazing woman who I consider to be a close friend of mine on a bus ride from Honduras to Nicaragua. It totally blows me away every time I meet women travelers who have left friends and family behind to pursue a travel adventure. Signing up with an organization such as COUCH SURFING (www.couchsurfing.org) is an incredible way to meet people from all across the globe. It’s a network of individuals who have signed up to offer their home or apt to travelers, or perhaps act as personal tour guides for their city, all at no cost to you. What could be better than meeting people who share your passions and interests?

CULINARY TREATS
And yes! This is my absolute favorite reason you should go on vacation… For the food! We as professionals have all become a products of busy work days and hectic private lives. As a result our dietary requirements often suffer. Nonexistent breakfasts, take away food is usually part of our unhealthy daily routine. Whenever I travel, I almost never eat fast food. I make it a habit of eating mostly well cooked foods with lots of fruits and vegetables. If you travel throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, you really have to go out of your way to find a fast food joint. A great place to experience a country’s cuisine is to visit the local markets. Not only will you find fresh food there you’ll also get a chance to see how and what the locals eat. But to avoid packing on the pounds, stick to foods like fruits and vegetables, which will always be lower in calories. If you really like something, you might even be able to bring some home with you. I suggest that when food shopping in local markets, try to avoid raw meat, poultry and dairy products that may not have been refrigerated. Be advised that certain culinary items may not be brought into the U.S. or are restricted, depending on the item, or country of origin.

With an uncertain global economy, and more and more people delaying or postponing travel altogether, there is a wonderful opportunity for you to find relaxing affordable vacations from a myriad of hotels and airlines. Quite honestly, NOW is the perfect time to plan a much needed vacation.
Yes go ahead and plan a cozy and delightful escape for yourself. And remember “The hardest part of planning a vacation should be deciding when to go back home!

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