Sloan Sheridan Williams discusses how to get in to the best head space for a holiday
Sloan Sheridan Williams, celebrity Life Coach, wellbeing consultant and relationship expert, discusses the best ways for us to switch into holiday mode, as quickly and easily as possible, enabling you to make the most of your time way.
The First 24 Hours of Your Holiday
Why is it that the first day of a holiday can pass us by in such a blur?
Nearly a third of travellers admit they worry about things going wrong during the first day of their holiday and think that the first 24 hours pass them by in a blur. This can mean travellers struggle to switch off from their worries and switch into holiday mode as their focus is on what could happen rather than what is happening. We often don’t take full advantage of our surroundings or focus on our new environment from the very first moment. This means we are not living in the present, rather we are living in a ‘reality’ in our head that consists largely of worry. We are therefore unable to take in the first 24 hours with the same appreciation if we do not let go of these concerns.
What are the best ways to get into holiday mode to enable you to really switch off as soon as you arrive in your destination?
The best way of switching into holiday mode is to have a three pronged approach. Firstly, keep your physiology at optimum by eating a snack to regulate your energy levels. Secondly keep your psychology upbeat by living in the moment and connecting with others. Nearly one quarter or travellers like a welcoming host, so pave the way by striking up the first conversation asking for tips of what to do or see to take you speedily into holiday mode. Finally keep your soul happy by embracing something that will help you grow, whether that is doing something new or adventurous or learning a foreign language. Constant progression is the key to happiness which promotes enjoyment of each and every moment in life. To achieve your holiday goals make sure you are prepared, be it getting your admin in order, packing items that will help you feel comforted or downloading apps that will help you make the most of your time away.
What sort of things do people tend to worry might go wrong during the first moments of their holiday?
People tend to place differing levels of importance on various emotional needs. They then worry about things that will result in one of these needs not being fulfilled. For example, if they feel it’s important to own designer brands or feel comforted by personal items, then their focus will be around losing their luggage. Other unhelpful fears include not being able to get online, with worries about struggling to connect to home or work. This worry will resonate with those people whose emotional need for connection is a key driver in making them feel fulfilled.
How can we combat worries around things like lost luggage, whether our accommodation will live up to our hopes and getting online?
Any concern in life is a matter of perspective. When one’s expectations are high and yet our standards are not as high, this discrepancy gives rise to worry and delay in switching to holiday mode. If a traveller’s expectation of an accommodation is high but they have not done their research by reading one of the many reviews available from those who have stayed previously then a discrepancy may occur. Likewise an expectation to not lose one’s luggage can be matched with the high standard of being prepared and taking action oneself, be it putting a fragile label on the package to buying a unique or personalised suitcase that if lost will be more easily identified and returned.
How long does it roughly to take to switch off from life and work worries when you go on holiday?
This is different for everyone and travellers should seek comfort in knowing there’s no right or wrong answer here. However there are definitely some factors that can positively influence this switch. Accommodation plays a huge role, with nearly one in four travellers saying they switch to holiday mode as soon as they arrive at their accommodation. Therefore, the shorter the transfer time, the quicker this change can happen. For others, surrounding themselves with their holiday clothes and essentials, by unpacking, allows others to flick the switch – so if this sounds like you, make unpacking a priority. Then there are those who physically need to unwind and so the transition takes place after they’ve had some sleep. Finally there are some who need that little bit longer – in some cases, a full day of the holiday needs to pass before they are ready to let go of anything holding them back from making the switch. If you’re one of those people, don’t change your ways – embrace who you are but ensure that from day two you really throw yourself into your holiday.
What can we do to speed this up?
According to travellers across the globe there’s a lot to be said for perfect weather as this was the top factor that helps people switch to holiday mode. We all know that weather can be beyond our control so a factor that we can govern is to embrace the new environment as where we stay plays a key role. Accommodation that meets or exceeds expectations helps the transition to holiday mode, as does accommodation feeling like home and an inviting and welcoming host/concierge. A quick trick to promote calm is to find something blue in your accommodation whether it be the calm sky view or ocean waves outside your window, or a painting/print or furnishings within your accommodation. Stare at it for 60 seconds taking in 3 deep breaths getting lost in the moment. The blue will promote calm while the deep breathing will help you transition to be in a new place and help you focus on the now. Speeding up the transition from stressed to relaxed travellers involves a variety of factors coming together and often contains conflicts. Despite feeling stressed out due to use of technology, nearly one in four say they feel better when they have Wi-Fi access! So it is not always about removing the cause of the stress but changing the way we approach that which stresses us.
What do you feel are the most important things to do in the first few hours of a holiday?
The most important thing to do in the first few hours of a holiday is to put one’s own needs first. So often we spend our time pleasing others, be it our boss, friends or family. A holiday is where we get to do what we want in our timeframe. I would suggest if someone does not know what makes them happy then follow the lead of others. Six in 10 travellers said that unpacking bags was a high priority and a similar number wished to explore their accommodation. Some personality types like to start planning the next day’s activities, others like to embrace the new destination over some food and drink and there are those who want to clear their head by going for a long walk. To ensure a quick transition to holiday mode, do something you would not normally do at home. This is the time to let your hair down and do something new to switch your psychology into the mode of testing the limits of your inner child. Play a random song and dance like no one is watching, drop in on a local bar and sing karaoke or go to the hotel bar and order a drink you have never tried before. The idea to leave your ego back home and live your life for the moment and not for how others might perceive you.
What should you try not to do during your first precious holiday hours?
Avoid repeating unhelpful patterns. If someone had a previous bad holiday experience it is key that they don’t let their past dictate their future. Try to take a different approach to anything that has not produced 100% fulfilment in the past. Often when tensions are high, people can turn their frustrations outwards resulting in arguments or miscommunication with others. To maintain the feel good factor on holiday, it is essential to avoid arguments or taking the behaviour of others too seriously. Another thing to avoid is being too critical. If travelling to a less developed country than home for example, focus on that which is new and exciting rather than the creature comforts that may be a little different. If there is no Wi-Fi due to bad weather, don’t catastrophize by assuming Wi-Fi will be unavailable for the whole holiday. Keeping perspective is essential. Do not be convinced that the worst is true, instead keeping focus on reality will help those first few precious holiday hours remain much calmer.
How do you avoid arguing with your friend/partner in your first day away?
Don’t engage. It takes two hands to clap and likewise it takes at least two people to argue. Ask yourself if it is better to be right than be happy. If the answer is yes, re-evaluate why you have the need to make someone else wrong to be happy and if that in fact will even make you happy. The first step to avoiding an argument is to take a physical and emotional step back which can be something as simple as removing yourself and taking three deep breaths. In that moment, it is important to remind yourself that people’s actions are often not as personal as you assume. When you see situations as they really are, or as a learning curve, it is easier to let it go. Any long term argument can be addressed once you are home, and inconsequential ones can be nipped in the bud without losing yourself in the process.
No one likes waiting in queues, do you have any tips for staying calm and reducing stress whilst waiting e.g. for passport control?
Waiting in queues is unfortunately a part of travel. Distracting yourself is the best way to make the time pass quicker which in turn reduces stress. Whether this is done by using this time to write a list of the most immediate things you wish to do and see on arrival or by zoning out in your own world to a pre-prepared playlist you made for just this occasion, make sure the task you choose to lose yourself in is something you can be passionate about. If you are travelling with a group, people watching can be an interesting pastime. Choose a list of 10 different stereotypes you have to spot and see who can spot all 10 first. If you are looking for a more practical approach, the majority of travellers are right-handed so heading to the furthest left counter from the entrance can save time. Fewer people choose that line as people gravitate to right hand counters to match their dominant writing hand. There will however still be a queue and to accept this rather than unrealistically wishing there wasn't can help manage expectations reducing disappointment and frustration. If the queue is longer than you would prefer and you need a shot of ‘instant calm’ then pressure points are the answer with many to choose from. An easy one to locate is the space between the knuckles of your second and third finger right by the joints. Locate your preferred trigger point and apply firm pressure. This creates an instant feeling of calm, as does simply deep breathing or playing your favourite holiday tunes to get you into the holiday mood.
We hear about how technology can be detrimental to switching off, but how can we use it to help us switch into holiday mode?
Advance planning is a great way to reduce things not going your way but keeping hard copies of paperwork can be cumbersome and inefficient. Technology really helps here. Booking.com offers unique services to ensure the first 24 hours of your trip are seamless. From smart, instant messaging with your property in advance to insider destination guides and in-app attraction passes in select cities with Booking Experiences and 24/7/365 customer support that can make anyone’s travel experience stress-free and tailored to you - whether you get all your accommodation questions answered before arrival or you keep electronic copies of travel documents. Technology such as e-readers also help save luggage space instead taking a multitude of books with you for holiday reading. MP3 players or music apps on phones along with Bluetooth speakers are other essential technology items for those who want to enjoy music in the digital age. Phones and laptops are essential items to keep you connected and can reduce stress levels for some travellers.
Home from Home
What can travellers do at their choice of accommodation to get them into holiday mode?
The first step is to make a decision to live every day of your holiday to the full and to not be held back by expectations, fears or things you can’t control, be it people or the weather. Become an explorer and ditch the fear. Nearly one in five 18-34 year olds worry they’ve not planned their holiday enough. If that also applies to you, use the Booking.com destination guide to find and list six things you want to do and pick one at random. Spontaneity adds a little more fun, and means you can live the holiday for just you and ensure you are not just doing what others think you should do. If you are stuck for ideas, ask a local. Spending part of your holiday walking in someone else’s shoes is a great way to leave your old patterns behind. Immerse yourself in the local culture and try local delicacies or experiences. Leave your comfort zone, chat to the locals and find out where to go that’s off the beaten track.
Do you think it matters what type of accommodation you stay in to ensure a stress free holiday e.g. whether it’s a treehouse, igloo, B&B or hotel?
The choice of accommodation, managing expectations once there, and any necessary communication between the accommodation and the traveller before and during the stay are all important components of a stress free holiday. Travellers like to feel confident in their choice of accommodation and that is often helped by the knowledge that enough research has been done. However in this modern world where people are time poor, it is essential to have reliable review information, pictures and local area guides easily accessible and all in one place so that one can do the research efficiently to maximise results. With Booking.com you can access over 118 million recent reviews from actual guests writing in their own language and giving you the most relevant, up-to-date information to ensure that your travel experiences match your expectations. People say that an inviting and welcoming host/concierge, accommodation feeling like home and accommodation that meets or exceeds expectations helps them switch to holiday mode. Use the reviews to help you choose the right place for your needs and desires.
What elements of accommodation can help us enjoy the first 24 hours?
Where we stay plays a huge role across all of the holiday, not just the first 24 hours. A comfortable mattress, an amazing view and a hearty breakfast topped the accommodation wish-list for the most important things in the first day, followed by a spacious room and strong Wi-Fi signal. It appears that some travellers prefer the simple things with some stating that anything complimentary is important and others preferring the mini toiletries. If your host has left you a fruit basket, spend time peeling the orange even if you don’t normally eat oranges, take the time to smell the citrus aroma as you peel it. This reduces heightened physiological states putting you into a state of calm. For those who have had a long journey and normally shower at home, take the time to run a long bath, make use of the complimentary toiletries, grab a book or magazine if one has been left in your room, dim the lights slightly and burn a few candles while you switch off from the previous days and embrace the bliss that your accommodation provides.
Do you have any tips for getting back into work mode on your return?
Getting back into work mode is easier as it is natural to slip into old habits. I often suggest to my clients that rather than going back to the way you have done things before, do something new and take your work to the next level. Whether that is a push to get yourself the promotion or the simple act of tidying up your desk or inbox clutter and finishing off outstanding projects from before you went away. It is key to do something slightly differently to get a new outcome. Focus on new and exciting projects and create the space to do them as soon as you return. Go one step above how you would normally do your role. You also will have a fresh perspective after the holiday, be it the way the locals approached issues or something you picked up from holiday reading, so incorporate that which you learned into your everyday life.