Recently, I had the good fortune of traveling to the flagship Sandals Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, for a long weekend get-away. As a luxury, all-inclusive resort, they already offer a large variety of experiences and activities to add a playful element of fun to your vacation. With choices like volleyball, oversized chess on the beach, glass-bottom boat rides, snuba, snorkeling, Hobie Cat sailing, spa treatments, and late-night dance contests, I could have easily joined their program and been happy as a clam.
But as a creative life coach, I’m always looking for ways to spice up life with creative play. So, I added a few of my own ways to enhance my stay. Want to know how to make the most of your vacation? Consider using these ideas no matter wherever you travel this season… even in the seemingly sleepy little towns your family happens to live in.
Fruity umbrella drinks, toes in the sand, and sunsets are fine (well, great, actually). But when you challenge yourself to find the unexpected, you can capture lovely (and Instagram-worthy) memories and images.
Be on the lookout for unexpected sightings that catch your eye. Play with framing them in a way that creates a compelling photo. Zoom in for an ultra close-up or shoot up or down rather than straight ahead.
Once you have an image you love, play with filters or apps to transform your photo once again.
Choose your favorite photos to design unique postcards to send home to your friends and family via text, email, and snail-mail.
There are plenty of apps available that will make the process easy and fun!
Creating your own postcards personalizes the message you share with loved ones and gives them a taste of your vacation experience in a way no mass-produced postcard can.
Energize your playful spirit by setting a creative intention each day.
For example, you might choose “adventure” as a theme with the intention of trying at least one new experience. This could lead you to sign up for a scuba lesson. (Most water activities were included with my stay at the Sandals resorts, which made it easy to seek adventure.)
You might decide to make “color” your focus. It’s amazing the interesting and beautiful things you’ll notice when you set your intention to see the color yellow throughout your day.
Tropical flowers, a batik dress, or a pina colada will catch your eye and elevate your day as you play this colorful version of “I spy” with yourself.
Or you may set an intention to “listen.” You may find yourself enjoying unique sounds from birds to reggae music, to blenders, to laughter, to the surf hitting the beach, and the wind blowing through the leaves in a new way that enriches your day.
This is also an excellent way to permit yourself to be truly present and in the moment during your vacation, which may fly by otherwise.
Plan a day trip to experience some local highlights outside of resort walls (or your host’s home, guided tours, etc.).
I was grateful to have an activities director. They were happy to help me plan an excursion to the beautiful Dunn’s River Falls and a tour of the Appleton Rum Estate.
If you’re lucky enough to befriend locals, ask for their recommendations for a great place to dine on traditional favorites. I got to taste authentic dishes like jerk chicken and pork, Ackee and saltfish, escoveitch fish, festivals, and bammy. Yum!
It’s also really helpful to know what to pass on, in my case, the fruity rum punches. Instead, I opted to sip on local rum on ice with fresh coconut water!
Keeping a travel journal is a wonderful way to capture memories and enrich your vacation experiences.
In addition to writing down your experiences each day, you may want to keep a list of your favorite things. These may be favorite music, drinks, foods, and flowers. Maybe you’ll even use the list to plan a vacation-inspired dinner party once you return home! My guests are going to love the Jamaican-inspired evening I have planned.
Another simple, fun way to play in your travel journal: write a haiku to capture the essence of each day.
Haiku is a beautiful and easy way to write poetry. You simply write three lines, the first line with five syllables, the second with seven syllables, and the third line with five syllables. It doesn’t even need to rhyme!
Warms my skin, also my heart
Relaxed and grateful
You may even want to write your postcard messages in haiku form. It’s a fun, creative challenge to paint a picture of one of your vacation experiences in so few words.
Add some low-pressure art fun to your journal by bringing along an inexpensive watercolor set to dabble in your travel journal.
Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, there’s something so relaxing and satisfying about adding a splash of color to your journal pages while lying on the beach!
Once you practice weaving creative play into your vacations, you’re sure to come up with more imaginative ideas of your own.
Tip: If you’re contemplating traveling for the holidays, taking an all-exclusive resort vacation like the Sandals trip I just experienced could be an excellent alternative to the traditional turkeys and trees. There are many to choose from, and each caters to a different crowd, from singles to couples to families, as well as destination weddings and honeymoons. Just make sure you choose the resort that’s right for your needs, so you don’t do something like arrive at the couple’s beach when you’re single.
No matter where you travel, think about how to make the most of your vacation. Create magical memories by playing with some of these creative ideas during your time away.