How to Actually Relax on Vacation

The pursuit of happiness—and balance—in a topsy-turvy world.

Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany

Photo by Nils Nedel/Unsplash

Taking it easy has never been so hard

In between the barrage of news notifications pinging our phones and emails (or children) demanding a reply ASAP, we could collectively use a break. It is August, after all—where did the summer go?! While relaxation can come poolside in a lounge chair—perhaps with a drink in hand—creating balance for our minds, bodies, and souls can also come in other ways.

True relaxation doesn’t have to mean stillness. A walk, a run, or a day at sea or on a mountaintop can deliver a sense of calm. Similarly, relaxing the mind doesn’t necessarily mean turning it off—engaging in the culture of a new place can also do the job. Is your soul in need of recalibration? Consider connecting with beloved people and places in your life.

Point is, there are plenty of ways to slow down. We hope these articles inspire you to chill out, the way you best know how.

Chloe Arrojado

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Positano, SA, Italy

Journey to Italy’s Amalfi coast, where Positano’s warren of alleyways and lanes invite exploration.

Photo by Dimitry B/Unsplash

Relax your mind

10 Beautiful Beach Destinations With a Side of Culture

Some delight in relaxing on the sand with a book in hand for a week. For others, boredom sets in swiftly. It can be hard to find a beach that appeals to different travel styles, but around the world there are destinations that offer time in the ocean and a bit of culture, too.

From Indonesia to Israel, these 10 sun-kissed destinations offer picture-perfect beaches along with a healthy dose of local art, music, history, and more.

Read the full story about invigorating beach vacations.

Want more ways to relax the mind?

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Springs in Saratoga Spa State Park

The springs found in Saratoga Springs have proclaimed benefits for those who want to both soak in its waters and drink it.

Photo by Lauren Breedlove

Relax your body

Resting and Recharging in Saratoga Springs, New York

Adirondack Park comes to life in a big way every summer when its horse-racing track season begins. Its population explodes, with eager patrons flocking to teller windows, placing bets on a catalog of horses, cheering from the stands, and either celebrating their wins or drowning their losses at one of the many bars and restaurants downtown. It’s a fast-paced, lively, and loud experience.

But there’s another, quieter part of Saratoga. The city was built on an abundance of natural springs, which you can find in Saratoga Spa State Park, and is the perfect place for a break.

Read the full story about unwinding in “Spa City.”

Sailing the Coast of Maine on a Historic Windjammer

The weather was “particularly favorable,” according to the crew. Didn’t seem that way as the ship leaned dangerously close to the frigid Maine waters. As the wind whipped my cheeks, I debated whether it would be safer to hide in the galley or stay up top if we capsized. After all, this was a nearly 100-year-old vessel. A National Historic Landmark. Could it really handle these intense winds? Peering anxiously at the helm, I saw Captain Jocelyn Schmidt and her husband, Captain Justin Schaefer. They seemed to be relishing the experience, shouting commands. The crew rushed back and forth on the deck, tying and untying ropes, their adrenaline palpable.

“This,” said Susan, a fellow sailor and longtime guest of 15 years, “is a perfect sailing day.”

Read the full story about sailing on a historic ship.

Want more ways to relax the body?

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Waterfall Resort.jpg

At Waterfall Resort, visitors can try their hand at nabbing some giant salmon with a boat captain.

Courtesy of Waterfall Resort

Relax your soul

There’s More to Travel Than Going to New Places

Late afternoon is a mystical time of day when you’re sitting on the bow of a fishing boat, rod in hand, during the height of Alaska’s brief summer. The low-hanging sun chisels the mountains into high definition, accompanied by the smells of pine, salt, and sunscreen. The water looks like beveled glass, disturbed only by the otters floating by with a clutch of mussels on their bellies.

No sooner than I thought, man, it can’t get any more peaceful than this, I felt the distinct tug of a rockfish taking my bait—game on.

Typically, if given the option, I’d usually choose to go somewhere new over somewhere I’ve been before. Yet, this past July I was back in Alaska—my home for just shy of seven years—on a fishing boat outside the secluded fishing lodge Waterfall Resort.

Read the full story about sliding into the relaxing comfort of a place like home.

Want more ways to relax the soul?

Chloe Arrojado is the associate editor of destinations at AFAR. She’s a big fan of cafés, dancing, and asking people on the street for restaurant recommendations.
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