You've finally found a weekend when you and all of your buddies can get away to the lake for some R & R, away from the endless honey-do lists and invitations to brunch. The cooler’s stocked, there’s gas in the truck, and the boat’s ready to go. It should be an amazing week, with nothing to do but land that large mouth that you just know is lurking somewhere out in the lake. Except that the trip is a disaster and you come home more stressed than when you left — and bummed that it didn’t even come close to meeting your expectations.
And it’s probably your own fault. Sorry, but it’s true. Even if you were excited about the trip, there’s a good chance that you sabotaged it by making some common mistakes. Now, we're not trying to be all “I told you so,” and chastise you for messing up your long-awaited fishing trip. But think about it. Did you do everything that you could have to make sure your trip was awesome? Yeah, we thought so. If you've had a disaster trip, or even if you haven't but you’re planning a mancation, take a few minutes to think about the most common trip saboteurs — and find ways to avoid them.
1. Not Planning Properly
Yeah, yeah, we know. No one wants to hang out with the guy who has a color-coded Excel chart dictating everyone’s activities down to the second. But you also don’t want to arrive at your destination and look at each other and say, “Now what?” Beyond figuring out where to stay, try to have at least a rough plan for each day and an idea of who wants to do what, so you don’t waste half the day trying to decide whether to head to one lake or the other.
Making a plan — and reservations, if necessary — prevents you from missing the things that you really want to do and going home disappointed. So just do it.
2. Not Setting a Budget
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the first one, because if you aren't sure what you want to do, how do you know how much to plan on spending? But even beyond that, if you don’t think about how much you can and are willing to spend beforehand, you could have some unpleasant surprises. Even a “cheap” fishing trip, for example, requires you to shell out for gas, bait, and food in addition to your lodging and transportation expenses — not to mention the new gear you had to have when you stopped at the huge sporting goods store on the way to the lake. List what you think you’ll need to spend and overestimate expenses. You'll be less stressed.
3. Not Making Sure Everything Works
Want to ruin your trip? Get all the way out to the lake and discover that your boat needs a new engine — or worse. At that point, you might as well just donate your boat to a local charity and head home, because that’s the only good that’s going to come out of the trip. While you might be eager to get out of town, make sure that everything you need for the trip is in good working order. Otherwise, you’re just asking for a horrible time.
4. Unrealistically High Expectations
It’s cool to be excited about a vacation. It'd be weird if you weren’t. But when you expect your trip to be the most amazing trip of all time, and prepare for it like you’re preparing for your death (getting all of your affairs in order, obsessing about cleaning our your inbox, reminding everyone a million times that you’re going away) you're only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Your trip might be amazing. It might just be okay. Just enjoy it either way, and revel in the chance to get to do something you enjoy with people you like to hang out with. This won’t be the only vacation you ever take, so relax, and don’t ruin it for everyone else.
5. Not Fully Unplugging
There’s no other buzzkill quite as powerful as an email from your boss reminding you of the meeting you have when you get back from your trip. By definition, vacation means not working so leave the laptop at home, turn off your email notifications, and focus on relaxing. The work will be there when you get back.
Of course, other things will ruin a vacation, like someone acting like a jerk, but assuming you know how to behave, these are the things that are most likely to turn your getaway from awesome to “meh.” So don’t do them, and enjoy your mancation.