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  • Writer's pictureJon Kittell

What is an "intentional" vacation?

My mother loves to travel. When I was growing up we got to travel to Florida, Washington D.C., California, and Seattle just to name a few places. And while my mother gave me many travel experiences, I would hardly call them a vacation. My mom is one of those people that has to see EVERYTHING a destination can offer.

Most of the time “vacation” meant waking up at 5:30am and sticking to a strict itinerary of tourist traps, famous restaurants, museums, theme parks, historical sites, etc until we finally got to rest our heads at the hotel around 11pm. Rinse and repeat for the duration of the trip.

I have always appreciated my mother’s efforts to show us different areas of the United States - all while practicing incredible patience for her hungry, tired, or just “over it” kids in tow. I remember her needing a good day or two to recover from our “vacations.”

As I got older, I started vacationing in my own way. I like to take things a little slower, play things by ear and let my mood determine my activity for the day. Sure, I’ll have a few things on the list of places I want to visit or shops I want to check out, but overall, I like my vacations to be super chill and fluid. And you can bet I don’t ever get up at 5:30 am.

We plan vacations or trips based on the things we want to see, the experiences we want to have, and the foods we want to savor. How many of us are planning a vacation based on the way we want to feel - both during the vacation and after we return home? What would happen if we focused on the feelings of our vacation rather than the busy (or not busy) of it all?

This is what we call an intentional vacation.

An intentional vacation has a purpose and that purpose usually represents a feeling we want to feel. I want to go to Thailand and sit in the monasteries because I want to connect to the thousands of people who have found peace within those walls. I want to travel to Norway because I want to feel the magic of the aurora borealis and connect to the wonders of our wide world.

Jon and Elizabeth are pros at taking and leading intentional vacations. Here’s a few tips to get you started planning your next intentional vacation:

  1. Identify where you want to travel to. What are the areas of the world that intrigue you? Why do you feel drawn to this destination? Maybe you want to relax at a five star resort in Sedona or it could be the tranquility of Nepal is calling your name.

  2. What is the most important part of this destination for you? Is it learning about the culture? Is it enjoying the weather that might be different than you are used to? Is it a physical challenge that you are really excited about? Is it the friends you meet along the way?

  3. What feelings do you want to feel at this destination? Do you want to feel soft and relaxed? Challenged with adventure? Maybe you want to feel connected as you immerse yourself in a new culture? Whatever it is, identify the feelings you want to feel while traveling and rank them in order from most important to least important.

  4. What do you want to feel when you return? Maybe you want to feel more at peace and rested. You could be seeking a new feeling of motivation and adventure. Maybe you want to feel more connected to yourself or to your family/traveling companions. Whatever it is you want to feel post-vacation, write them down and rank them in order from most important to least important.

Once you have identified the feelings you want this trip to cultivate, you can start planning! Maybe you take a page from my mother’s book and start looking at multi-day museum passes, or maybe you take a page at mine and make sure you’re staying near a highly recommended yoga studio. Either way, approaching your vacation planning from the perspective of honoring the feelings you are searching for makes choosing what to include and exclude that much easier.

We are ready to guide your next intentional vacation planning; whether you are looking for physical adventure or to just simply zen out and relax, we’ve got you covered. Check out our upcoming 2020 Nepal trek here or you can shoot us an email at to get more help planning with Jon.

Whatever your vacation style is, I wish you the safest and happiest of travels.


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