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Studies Find What Families Want on Vacation

Studies Find What Families Want on Vacation

Hilton Blue Paper finds what dining experiences families want on vacation

Hilton Hotels has released its annual Hilton Blue Paper, which reveals the findings of two studies that indicate what families want, from food to amenities, while on vacation.

The hotel chain surveyed 1,200 respondents in the U.S. and U.K. in July and conducted 20 focus groups made up of parents and children in November 2011 in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, and Shanghai to find out what amenities are a priority for parents and children.

Along with dining preferences, the research also found that mothers are the primary vacation planners, most trips are planned within six months of departure, and parents and kids have different resort vacation goals — the children’s priority is a pool while the parents consider hotel amenities like the pool in addition to with dining options.

Both parents and children measured a good vacation dining experience as one with quick meals and a variety of choices, like buffets, eaten in a kid-friendly restaurant with a kid-friendly staff.

While parents remain happy to see kid-friendly cuisine like hamburgers and pizza on the menu, more families wish hotels had a wider variety of food options, including healthy choices. Families also want fast service and reservations, which limit the wait time at buffet-style restaurants, and larger tables to accommodate families of more than four. Parents and children also want entertainment options at the table that go beyond crayons and a menu to color on.

The children in the focus group listed kids’ buffets and kid-friendly pools as "must haves."

More and more hotels are taking notice. Check out these fantastic fall getaways for your next family trip.

Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.


9 Ways to Take Your Diet on Vacation

Food and travel don't have to add up to diet disaster.

When you take a trip, does your diet go on vacation, too? Many people use vacations as an excuse to live it up by eating rich foods they don't normally eat, or eating supersize restaurant portions all day long.

There are three reasons why eating in restaurants, as we tend to do most of the time while traveling, is so dangerous for your diet:

  • Restaurants often serve large portions, and we tend to eat more when more food is in front of us.
  • Restaurant menu items are often high in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and low in fiber.
  • At restaurants, you usually have no idea how many calories or grams of saturated fat are in the dishes you order.

But it is possible to enjoy your vacation and the local food without packing extra pounds for the trip home. The secrets: choose foods wisely, make "moderation" your vacation mantra, and stay as active as possible during your trip.

When you arrive at your destination, ask the hotel concierge or local residents what restaurants are nearby and what type of food they offer. Or, check out the local tourist restaurant guide hotels often have these as do airport information booths.

Better yet, investigate your eating options before you go. Email or call the concierge of your hotel and ask for restaurant suggestions. If possible, look these restaurants up online to see what their menu choices are. (Of course, if you've got Internet access via your phone, you can look this up during your trip.)

Here are more tips to help you take your diet on vacation:


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American Families Spend Just 37 Minutes Of Quality Time Together Per Day, Survey Finds

NEW YORK — Considering a recent survey that showed American adults spend up to three hours a day on social media, you may be disheartened to learn that the average family spends just a fraction of that time together each day. A new survey calculated that Americans are enjoying just 37 minutes of “quality time” as a family on weekdays.

The study, commissioned by Visit Anaheim , the tourism organization for the Southern California city, tried to quantify the cost of increasingly jam-packed schedules for American families. After polling 2,000 parents of school-aged children, researchers found that 60% of those polled described their average, daily lives as “hectic.” A quarter of respondents admitted that lack of family time is a “problem.”

How much time are you spending with your loved ones? A new survey found that Americans enjoy just 37 minutes of “quality time” as a family each day during the week.

On weekdays, with parents working and kids at school or in other activities, the time they spend all together doing a common activity is significantly low. While the average family is not even spending 40 minutes together on Monday through Friday, the survey showed that quality time did increase to about 2 hours and 40 minutes on weekend days.

When asked which factors in their lives were to blame for this lack of family time, two-thirds of the parents surveyed identified their long work hours as the main culprit. Participants also cited weekend chores and their kids’ complex school and activities schedules.

Meanwhile, quality time wasn’t just an issue for families. Spouses also struggle to enjoy time with one another throughout the year. More than half of the parents (54%) said they get at most 12 date nights to themselves a year, while 31% sometimes go more than a month without a night out.

To make matters worse, one’s definition of “date night” might differ from someone else’s. That’s because 65% of the respondents said even during dates, they’re likely running errands or doing domestic chores. of parents surveyed said they’re actively looking for whole-family activities.

Of course, there may be no better way to reconnect with the family while unplugging from the daily schedule by going on vacation. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they spend more time their children when they go away — a much needed dose of quality time.

“As a family-friendly destination, we know the positive benefits a vacation can have on a family,” says Jay Burress, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim, in a press release. “A vacation offers a refreshing opportunity for families to leave their hectic routines at home and focus on bonding with each other, building memories that last a lifetime.”

Still, plenty of people look for things for their kids to do when they’re away besides hang out with the family. Two-thirds of parents say they choose a vacation destination where they knew there’d be entertainment for the little ones.

As for how much vacation time the typical family gets? The survey found parents spent seven days a year on average on vacation with their children. It may sound low to some, but for parents who say they live hectic lives, it’s most certainly better than nothing.


Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinners

You'll have no problem getting everyone to gather for dinner with these family-friendly meals. Pizza, pasta, pork chops, tacos, and everything in between — these quick and easy recipes will have them running to the table!

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Photo By: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

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Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

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Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Marshall Troy ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Baked Pork Chop

This simple preparation is perfect for a weeknight — just shake and bake!

Skillet Taco Pizza

Every night can be pizza night when it&rsquos so easy to prepare at home. Use store-bought pizza dough to cut down on time and serve with your favorite taco toppings.

One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta

You can have this creamy and comforting pasta with chicken on the table in just 30 minutes and best of all, it all cooks in one pot &mdash you won't even need to boil water first! It's packed with tender chicken thighs, bell peppers, and onions, and finished off with a creamy tomato sauce.

Chicken Tortilla Dump Dinner

Enjoy all your favorite Tex-Mex flavors in a comforting casserole that's fast and easy to throw together.

Blended Beef, White Bean and Squash Burgers

This smoky, juicy burger is a three-in-one combination of a classic beef burger, a veggie burger and a bean burger. It's a delicious and easy way to cut down on meat while still getting lots of satisfying flavor. After you've tried this version, put your own spin on it by subbing in your favorite spice blend instead of the paprika, garlic and onion powder used here.

Shrimp Stir-Fry

This shrimp stir-fry recipe is simple and fast. It cooks in about 5 minutes, so be sure to prep all your ingredients and cook the rice in advance.

Ohio Turkey Chili

There's nothing more Ohio than Valerie's Cincinatti-style chili spaghetti.

Spinach-and-Mushroom-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Waffle Chicken Fingers

Combine chicken and waffles for an inventive take on a classic.

General Tso’s Taco Bake

Eddie says, &ldquoI love using rotisserie chicken because you can just pick it up, it&rsquos easy and you don&rsquot have to worry about cooking.&rdquo He coats the chicken in a sweet sauce inspired by his favorite takeout dish, then stuffs the meat into crunchy taco shells.

Caesar Salad with Shrimp

Ree&rsquos simple yet elegant salad is the ultimate meal when you need to impress in a hurry. She whips up a quick homemade dressing, which she lets seep into quartered hearts of romaine. Artfully arranged shrimp and baked garlic croutons add the final, crowd-pleasing touch.

Skillet Chicken Parmesan with Artichokes

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Sunny uses quick-cooking chicken tenders and cuts them into bite-size chunks for her easy, satisfying pot pie.

Pasta Pizza

Store-bought pizza dough makes Trisha's tortellini-topped pizza a breeze to make.

Lazy No-Bake Lasagna

True to its name, Valerie&rsquos lasagna requires next-to-no effort. Bonus? The dish is prepared in just one pot, which is so important when you don&rsquot want to wash dishes at the end of a long day.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Here's a family dinner trick from Ree: Make meatballs ahead of time and freeze them for later. When you and the fam need to eat next, just pop them out and cook them in this quick Asian-inspired sauce.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

A true one-pot wonder, Ree&rsquos chicken curry comes together in just 25 minutes from start to finish.


Study: Experiences make us happier than possessions

(CNN) -- Even in tough economic times, you may find yourself with a bit of cash to spare. You've been working hard, and you want to treat yourself. Should you spend it on an experience, such as a baseball game or concert, or a material object?

An experience may generate positive memories that outlast the allure of a new material possession.

Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.

That's in part because the initial joy of acquiring a new object, such as a new car, fades over time as people become accustomed to seeing it every day, experts said. Experiences, on the other hand, continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event occurred.

Ryan Howell, assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, presented his findings this week at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting. Watch for more on the study »

The study looked at 154 people enrolled at San Francisco State University, with an average age of about 25. Participants answered questions about a recent purchase -- either material or experiential -- they personally made in the last three months with the intention of making themselves happy.

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While most people were generally happy with the purchase regardless of what it was, those who wrote about experiences tended to show a higher satisfaction at the time and after the experience had passed.

The most striking difference was in how participants said others around them reacted to either the purchased object or experience. Experiences led to more happiness in others than purchases did. A sense of relatedness to others -- getting closer to friends and family -- may be one of the reasons why experiences generate more happiness.

"When people spend money on life experiences, whether they also take someone with them or buy an extra ticket or whatever, most of our life experiences involve other individuals," Howell said. People were fulfilling their need for social bonding while having these experiences, he said. Visit CNNhealth.com, your connection for better living

Another reason for increased happiness in experiences, the researchers found, was that people felt a greater sense of vitality or "being alive" during the experience and in reflection, Howell said.

"As nice as your new computer is, it's not going to make you feel alive," he said.

Most psychologists who study the phenomenon say people adapt to a new purchase in six to eight weeks, up to a maximum of three months, Howell said. That means the initial pleasure we get from a new possession generally fades in a matter of months.

Howell's study builds on earlier work by Thomas Gilovich, professor and chairman of the psychology department at Cornell University. Gilovich and colleague Leaf Van Boven's seminal 2003 paper "To do or to have: That is the question" found similar results about possessions bringing less happiness than experiences.

Experts also point out that people are less self-conscious when comparing experiences than they are about possessions. It will probably bother you more that your friend's home theater is better than yours than if your friend saw more sights on her South Seas vacation, Gilovich said.

Experiences form "powerful and important memories that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world," Gilovich said.

It's not just individuals who should be thinking about investing in experiences when making purchasing choices -- policy makers should also keep this reasoning in mind for their communities, he said.

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"If you create municipalities with more parks, bike trails, more hiking trails that make experiences easier, then I think you're going to have a happier population," he said.

With Valentine's Day coming up, does this research mean you should give your honey a nice dinner or weekend getaway rather than a material present, such as a necklace or watch?

The issue of happiness conferred to others has been studied less, so the answer is unclear, experts said.

While Howell would expect this principle of experiences over possessions to still apply, Gilovich agreed that it may, but also points out that the act of giving or receiving an object as a gift is an experience in itself.

"Gifts of material possessions often become keepsakes and have sentimental value that increase with time, instead of diminishing like most material goods," Gilovich said.


The Stories That Bind Us

I hit the breaking point as a parent a few years ago. It was the week of my extended family’s annual gathering in August, and we were struggling with assorted crises. My parents were aging my wife and I were straining under the chaos of young children my sister was bracing to prepare her preteens for bullying, sex and cyberstalking.

Sure enough, one night all the tensions boiled over. At dinner, I noticed my nephew texting under the table. I knew I shouldn’t say anything, but I couldn’t help myself and asked him to stop.

Ka-boom! My sister snapped at me to not discipline her child. My dad pointed out that my girls were the ones balancing spoons on their noses. My mom said none of the grandchildren had manners. Within minutes, everyone had fled to separate corners.

Later, my dad called me to his bedside. There was a palpable sense of fear I couldn’t remember hearing before.

“Our family’s falling apart,” he said.

“No it’s not,” I said instinctively. “It’s stronger than ever.”

But lying in bed afterward, I began to wonder: Was he right? What is the secret sauce that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, happy?

It turns out to be an astonishingly good time to ask that question. The last few years have seen stunning breakthroughs in knowledge about how to make families, along with other groups, work more effectively.

Myth-shattering research has reshaped our understanding of dinnertime, discipline and difficult conversations. Trendsetting programs from Silicon Valley and the military have introduced techniques for making teams function better.

The only problem: most of that knowledge remains ghettoized in these subcultures, hidden from the parents who need it most. I spent the last few years trying to uncover that information, meeting families, scholars and experts ranging from peace negotiators to online game designers to Warren Buffett’s bankers.

After a while, a surprising theme emerged. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.

I first heard this idea from Marshall Duke, a colorful psychologist at Emory University. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Duke was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families.

“There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family,” he told me at his home in suburban Atlanta. “But we were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.”

Around that time, Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara, a psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities, noticed something about her students.

“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said.

Her husband was intrigued, and along with a colleague, Robyn Fivush, set out to test her hypothesis. They developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions.

Examples included: Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

“We were blown away,” Dr. Duke said.

And then something unexpected happened. Two months later was Sept. 11. As citizens, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush were horrified like everyone else, but as psychologists, they knew they had been given a rare opportunity: though the families they studied had not been directly affected by the events, all the children had experienced the same national trauma at the same time. The researchers went back and reassessed the children.

“Once again,” Dr. Duke said, “the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”

Why does knowing where your grandmother went to school help a child overcome something as minor as a skinned knee or as major as a terrorist attack?

“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said.

Psychologists have found that every family has a unifying narrative, he explained, and those narratives take one of three shapes.

First, the ascending family narrative: “Son, when we came to this country, we had nothing. Our family worked. We opened a store. Your grandfather went to high school. Your father went to college. And now you. . ”

Second is the descending narrative: “Sweetheart, we used to have it all. Then we lost everything.”

“The most healthful narrative,” Dr. Duke continued, “is the third one. It’s called the oscillating family narrative: ‘Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. You had an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.’ ”

Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.

Leaders in other fields have found similar results. Many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.

Jim Collins, a management expert and author of “Good to Great,” told me that successful human enterprises of any kind, from companies to countries, go out of their way to capture their core identity. In Mr. Collins’s terms, they “preserve core, while stimulating progress.” The same applies to families, he said.

Mr. Collins recommended that families create a mission statement similar to the ones companies and other organizations use to identify their core values.

The military has also found that teaching recruits about the history of their service increases their camaraderie and ability to bond more closely with their unit.

Cmdr. David G. Smith is the chairman of the department of leadership, ethics and law at the Naval Academy and an expert in unit cohesion, the Pentagon’s term for group morale. Until recently, the military taught unit cohesion by “dehumanizing” individuals, Commander Smith said. Think of the bullying drill sergeants in “Full Metal Jacket” or “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

But these days the military spends more time building up identity through communal activities. At the Naval Academy, Commander Smith advises graduating seniors to take incoming freshmen (or plebes) on history-building exercises, like going to the cemetery to pay tribute to the first naval aviator or visiting the original B-1 aircraft on display on campus.

Dr. Duke recommended that parents pursue similar activities with their children. Any number of occasions work to convey this sense of history: holidays, vacations, big family get-togethers, even a ride to the mall. The hokier the family’s tradition, he said, the more likely it is to be passed down. He mentioned his family’s custom of hiding frozen turkeys and canned pumpkin in the bushes during Thanksgiving so grandchildren would have to “hunt for their supper,” like the Pilgrims.

“These traditions become part of your family,” Dr. Duke said.

Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves. When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.

The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.


The Importance of Vacations to Our Physical and Mental Health

Among the many debates swirling through the nation's circle of pundits each year is whether nation's leaders should take time off in the summer for their yearly recess. As it turns out, though it may seem that they're being irresponsible, perhaps they're doing the right thing. Everyone needs a vacation once in a while.

Though the average citizen may not experience the kind of mega-stress of a nationally elected leader, all of us have our own home-grown version of job-related stress. We may face the burden of meeting tight deadlines, making crucial decisions, or managing the complexities of household demands. Our stress may also include the stress of being under- or unemployed. All adults have lives that are filled with some form of stress, even if we don't truly acknowledge this fact.

Chronic stress takes its toll in part on our body's ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury. When you're stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you're more likely to have an accident. Your sleep will suffer, you won't digest your food as well, and even the genetic material in the cells of your body may start to become altered in a bad way. Mentally, not only do you become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you'll make poorer decisions. You'll also be less fun to be with, causing you to become more isolated, lonely, and depressed.

Clearly, then, stress is not a good thing. Even people who claim to love the high-pressured lifestyle will admit, in their quieter moments, that there are times when they just want to get away from it all, if only for a short time.

Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines. That's if the vacation is "successful." Later, I'll talk about ways to guarantee that you do have a successful vacation experience rather than one that could be chronicled as a "National Lampoon" movie. For now, though, let's look at some of that evidence.

In a 2009 study, Canadian researchers Joudrey and Wallace reported that "active" leisure pursuits (such as golf!) and taking vacations helped to buffer or ameliorate the job stress among a sample of almost 900 lawyers. British researcher Scott McCabe noted that vacations' "personal benefits have been found to include: rest and recuperation from work provision of new experiences leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication promotion of peace and understanding personal and social development visiting friends and relatives religious pilgrimage and health and, subjective wellbeing" (p. 667). McCabe believes these positive benefits to be so strong that he recommends that families be given some form of financial assistance if they are unable to afford vacations on their own.

The benefits of vacations extend to family relationships. An international group of researchers led by Purdue University Xinran Lehto concluded that family vacations contribute positively to family bonding, communication and solidarity. Vacations promote what is called the "crescive bond" (in sociological parlance, a "shared experience") by fostering growing and enduring connections. Shared family memories and time spent together isolated from ordinary everyday activities (school, work, and so on) help to promote these positive ties. Though family vacations can have their own share of stress, the benefits outweigh the risks, even in families that are not particularly close, according to Lehto and co-authors.

Ready to hop off Psych Today and hop on to Expedia to book your next vacation? Of course it might not be so easy. Until the word gets out and the government or private charities start issuing vacation stimulus packages, you may not be in a position to fly up, up, and away. There are also many ways to benefit from a "stay-cation" (where you don't venture further than your state, town or city, or even neighborhood). But for now, if you're able to and ready, here are some ways to make sure that you actually benefit from every penny spent on that hard-earned adventure:

1. "Plan ahead" (put in quotes because you've certainly heard this one before!): Do your online research and make sure you know what's available in your vacation destination. It's frustrating to find out too late that if you had just done a bit of googling you'd have found the ideal beach, mountain, museum, park, etc. etc. Planning ahead will also minimize family stress while on that vacation especially if you've pre-agreed on an itinerary. This will also make it possible for you to determine ahead of time whether some or all of you want to go bungee jumping vs. museum-hopping.

2. Know the rules and regulations : Airlines are notoriously pulling bait-and-switch tactics in which they advertise one set of fares and then jack the prices up with ludicrous fees. Spirit Airlines most recently caught fire for their decision to charge for carry-on luggage. There are some good websites out there with advice on how to avoid some of these charges. Know your country's safety rules and regulations as well. If you don't want to give up your cherished Swiss Army knife, for example, you'll need to remember to pack it in checked bags or leave it at home altogether.

3. Don't feel guilty because you're going on vacation. You can afford a vacation but your neighbor, co-worker, or best friend can't. The point of a vacation is to rid yourself from as much guilt as possible. If you are so distressed about taking a trip, maybe there's something else holding you back. Alternatively, you can decide to donate some of your budget originally intended for travel to a charitable cause. And don't feel that you shouldn't send a card or bring back a gift for someone who couldn't take a vacation because you don't want to rub it in. If the person resents your card or gift, well, let's just say that this person may not be someone you should worry about anyway! (just kidding).

4. Don't feel guilty when you're gone if you check email. Some people feel that the worst part of a vacation is coming back to hundreds or thousands of emails. If you're one of those people (and you know who you are), then allot yourself a small portion of each day to a stop in an internet cafe or a peek at your laptop. In fact, there's a case to be made that you need to do some email checking just to make sure that family members at home are okay, nothing horrible has happened to your household pets, your charge accounts are still solvent, and your flight hasn't been delayed.

5. Make your vacation a true adventure. As shown by the research, an active vacation involving new challenges will be most beneficial. Sure, you can veg out on the beach for hours at a time if that's going to relax you the most. But be sure that you stray outside of the resort, hotel, cruise ship, or wherever you are in that comfort zone of yours and get off the beaten track a bit. It will build some new synapses and give you some of those memorable, bonding, experiences with your fellow vacationers.

6. More practical advice (skip this if you've heard it way too many times before). Pack for contingencies such as getting sick, getting a sunburn (which you should not get if you've followed my advice in earlier posts about sunblock!), losing your glasses, getting a paper cut, and so forth. Pack far enough in advance so you don't forget your favorite teddy bear or whatever else will give you comfort. Zip up your bags, don't carry too much cash, xerox your passport if you're going out of the country, check the drawers in your hotel room before you leave, don't go in sketchy areas alone or without prior advice - you don't want the adventure to turn sour. Leave enough extra room in your case for souvenirs, and buy them. You may never realize until later how much you regretted not spending one or two dollars for the trinket that at the time seemed silly but in retrospect would have looked oh so cute on your kitchen table.

Take plenty of pictures. The days of carrying 20 rolls of film for a 2-week trip are fortunately behind us. The "deletes" don't cost anything anymore. Finally -- read this one -- make sure you know what the plug styles are in countries other than your own. The camera, laptop, or cellphone that's run out of juice won't be any good to you unless you thought ahead to bring the right converter. Don't forget the cords, and don't leave them plugged in when you depart from your hotel room.

Combine souvenir shopping with camera tricks

Alright, that should take care of the do's and don't's for a successful vacation. But there are plenty of advantages to stay-cations . You can make your time at home so good that people who had to put up with the woes of travel will end up being jealous of you!

Vacations are just one route to fulfillment. To learn more about ways to achieve your own self-fulfillment, check out my Search for Fulfillment website. There you can read excerpts from my book and take online quizzes so that you can find the action plan that will be most helpful to your pathway to fulfillment. Check out the Interactive Resources for these and other features.

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, "Fulfillment at Any Age," to discuss today's blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2010

Joudrey, A.D. & Wallace, J.E. (2009). Leisure as a coping resource: A test of the job demand-control-support model. Human Relations, 62, 195-217.

Lehto, X. Y., Choi, S., Lin, Y., & MacDermid, S.M. (2009). Vacation and family functioning. Annals of Tourism Research, 36 , 459-479.

McCabe, S. (2009). Who needs a holiday? Evaluating social tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 36, 667-688.


22 Ways to Eat Cheap & Save on Food While Traveling on Vacation

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The United States General Services Administration, which manages the functioning of federal agencies, sets per diem rates for federal employees traveling on official business in the continental U.S. Per-diem rates cover three types of expenses: lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. The last two are usually grouped as “M&IE.”

The M&IE per-diem rate is the reasonable maximum outlay for three square meals per day and whatever other incidental expenses arise during a day of official business away from the home office. It varies considerably by local market. In 2021, the M&IE per-diem rate for San Francisco was $76. A few hundred miles away, in Elko, Nevada, it’s just $55 — the standard rate for most rural areas and small cities.

If you’re accustomed to dining well, $55 might not sound like enough to earn your full allowance of daily calories. If you’re a frugal eater, $55 might seem like an embarrassing amount to spend on three meals. But either way, it’s in your financial interest to reduce the cost of food on the road — if only to have more left over for nonconsumable travel expenses.


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