As a fitness professional, you dedicate your career to helping other people take care of their health and wellness needs. Are you taking care of your own needs? Are you getting the vacation time you need?

Vacations can reinvigorate and renew you so that you feel better in your professional and personal life. They work best, however, when they answer a specific need. This article will help you pinpoint the kind of vacation that will best feed your mind, body and spirit.

Brainstorming Your Needs

What type of vacation would work best for you right now? Kate Larsen, PCC,
a corporate and wellness coach from Minneapolis, suggests asking yourself what you envision as an ideal vacation. “Then consider the last time you took that type of vacation,” she says. “Are you being intentional in your vacation planning? Are you doing what you really want to do?”

It can be challenging to find focused time to think about vacations amid the hustle and bustle of life. Larsen suggests going to a coffeehouse to get uninterrupted time to brainstorm. “Ask yourself, ‘When I return from the trip, what is it that I wish to have felt or experienced?’ That will help you determine your needs.”

After you’ve sorted out those needs, consider what type of vacation would meet them. To help, do the “Vacation Needs Worksheet” on page 107. Then ask yourself these questions:

How much money do I have to spend? Will I be paying for the trip or, if it’s business related, will my company pay for all or part of the trip?

What kind of information do I need to best plan my trip? How much time do I need to plan? Do I want someone else to help?

Talking to Travel Partners

Once you’ve decided what your needs are, talk to your travel partner(s) about them. Again, make vacation planning with a partner, friends or kids a treat! Plan a special time to discuss it. The key, according to Larsen, is figuring out what the expectations are for you and your travel partner(s). If everyone has realistic expectations going into a trip, you’re all likely to have a better time.

However, what if you want to take completely different vacations? You may need to compromise. Larsen gives an example. Her family went to her niece’s baptism in Denver. “My husband and boys love to ski, but I didn’t want to,” she says. “We planned the trip so that they could ski for a few days, while I stayed with my sister. They’d rather ski for a week, but they got to ski for a while and I got to visit with my sister, which met my needs.”

Adjusting Expectations

What if the vacation you want costs more money or takes more time than you have? Adjust your expectations.

“Can you get the feeling of what you want to do?” asks Larsen. “Suppose you’d like to relax and be pampered at a spa. Maybe you can afford to go with your family to a resort, but can’t afford to do lots of spa treatments. Maybe you can ask your partner if you can spend the morning or day lounging by the pool while he or she takes the kids somewhere. That way you still get to relax.”

Larsen suggests thinking outside the box, too. “Perhaps you need to go somewhere warm during the winter, and your spouse doesn’t have the time or doesn’t want to go to a warm climate,” she says. “Shift your thinking. Who else can you go with? Maybe a friend would love to go on a long weekend with you. It’s okay to take a separate vacation from your spouse or partner, if that works for you both.”

Tuning In on Vacation

Once you’re traveling, check in with yourself throughout the trip. Your needs may change. “You don’t always have to do what you planned in advance,” Larsen says. “You wouldn’t cancel everything, but you have permission to say, ‘I don’t feel like doing that,’ and to be spontaneous and flexible.”