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Wellness Tip: Take Vacations

Over the past few decades, millions of American workers have bought into the “cult of busy” — so much so that 59% of millennials report feeling “shame” for taking a vacation. And it turns out that our days off aren’t really so “off” after all: Many of us admit to carving out a few hours of each vacation day to do work, or taking work calls on holidays.

A recent study by researchers from Columbia University, Harvard, and Georgetown found that when subjects were told a person was busy, they immediately perceived that person as more competent, ambitious and successful. Whereas leisure and luxury goods were once aspirational status symbols, the new status symbol is having no time for leisure at all.

Studies show that vacations are crucial for our physical and mental health. They substantially decrease our risk of heart attacks and depression, lower our blood pressure, and improve our sleep. They also help with family cohesion — allowing us to create new memories with our loved ones. And vacations even improve our work, allowing us to feel more engaged.

Here are some tips to help you be totally off on your next vacation.

1. Schedule Vacations in Advance 

If you keep waiting until “later” to request time off, you may never get the chance. Flip through your calendar to find a time to get out of town — or at least to get away from work. 

2. Get Organized Before You Leave

For a guilt-free break, strive to complete important tasks and delegate ongoing work before your vacation begins. 

3. Set Your Out-of-Office Auto-Reply 

Make sure to include another colleague’s contact information for notifications that can’t wait until your return. You may also want to ask a trusted coworker to monitor your inbox while you’re away, just to make sure nothing crucial slips through the cracks. 

4. Turn Off Your Phone Notifications

Try to resist checking your work email entirely, but if you find yourself feeling more anxious that way, limit yourself to a quick scan of your inbox no more than once a day. Leave your phone behind whenever you can. 

5. Don’t Overschedule Your Days 

If you’re traveling somewhere new, you might be tempted to pack your trip with sightseeing excursions and tours. Try to resist the impulse to schedule more than one organized activity per day — remember how fleeting time off really is, and make sure you actually enjoy it.

Want to plan an escape to nature for your next vacation? Book your Getaway today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Go on a Hike

The Appalachian Trail begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia, then moves north, crossing 14 states, eight national forests, and six national parks before ending at the peak of Mount Katahdin in Maine. By the time backpackers (known as “thru-hikers”) arrive at Mount Katahdin, they’ve spent at least five straight months trekking along the 2,178-mile trail, the longest marked path in the United States.

The trail got its start a hundred years ago, in 1921, when a Massachusetts forester and conservationist named Benton MacKaye published an article laying out his idea for a walking path across the Appalachian Mountains. He believed that the stress and speed of urban life were bad for people’s health, so he envisioned the trail as a destination for worn-out city dwellers in need of recreation and refreshment in nature. When journalists asked what the trail’s purpose was, MacKaye’s reply was Zen-like in its simplicity: “To walk, to see, and to see what you see.”

In the century since, the pace of city life has only sped up, and we’re spending less and less time outside. MacKaye’s concern for our health, and his proposed solution of getting out into nature for a reset, are as relevant as ever.

While there are plenty of health benefits to hiking, hiking is also a great way to bond with friends and family, there’s a low barrier to entry, and it’s inexpensive. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy your next hike from our founder, Jon Staff. For more tips, check out his book “Getting Away: 75 Everyday Practices for Finding Balance in Our Always-On World.”

1. Locate a Nearby Trail 

You don’t need to live in the middle of the wilderness to find good places to hike. Many cities and towns have parks and other greenspaces with walking paths, and you can find good hiking trails just an hour away from many major cities.

2. Warm Up

One of the most common hiking injuries is a sprained ankle, but you can reduce your risk with exercises to expand your range of motion and build core strength, which will help to stabilize you on an uneven trail. Crunches, squats, and lunges will strengthen your core, while a resistance band can help to improve strength and extension.

3. Break in New Footwear in Advance 

Blisters are a buzzkill. If you plan to wear new or rarely used shoes or boots on your hike, spend some time walking around in them in advance. While lightweight hiking shoes might feel comfortable right away, heavier leather boots may take up to a few weeks to soften to the shape of your feet. 

4. Stay Safe 

Check the weather a few hours before you plan to set out. Even if you plan to hike for only a few hours, bring a backpack with water, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, extra layers, and a basic first aid kit. It’s safer to hike with a partner, but if you’re planning to go out alone, make sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. 

5. Budget Extra Time

Hiking is usually slower than walking, since rugged terrain and changes in elevation will slow your pace. Depending on the landscape and your level of fitness, assume you’ll cover one to two miles of trail per hour. Add an extra hour for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If you’re new to hiking, start with a shorter, easier trail, and err on the safe side by budgeting in a few extra hours.

Useful Websites for Hikers:

Ready to plan your next escape to nature? Book your Getaway today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Go Forest Bathing

To take a forest bath is to stroll through the woods while paying close attention to your senses. Your goal is to slow down, quiet your mind, and take in the sights, sounds, scents, textures, (and occasionally tastes) of the forest.

In 1990, Chiba University researcher Yoshifumi Miyazaki found that forest bathing led to lower levels of stress and boosted immune function.

Here are some tips to help you try forest bathing. 

1. Find A Spot You Love

Find a spot in nature that makes you feel peaceful and relaxed. While you don’t need to be in total isolation, you’ll want to avoid crowded places. If you love the sound of running water, see if you can start your forest bath near a river or stream. If the smell of damp soil makes you happy, seek out a shady grove. 

2. Leave Your Cell Phone Behind

Even better, leave behind as much as you can. The fewer possessions you’re carrying, the more you’ll be able to focus on the feeling of your body moving through the landscape. Don’t worry about where you’re going; let your senses and curiosity be your guide. 

3. Open Your Senses 

Listen for birds and the rustling of leaves. Look at the different colors of foliage and the pattern of shadows from sunlight through the branches. Inhale to smell and taste the aroma of the soil, moss, and trees. Press your hands against tree trunks to feel the texture of the bark; sit or lie on the ground to get a fresh perspective.

4. Take Your Time 

Unlike a hike or even a walk, you’re not trying to get from Point A to Point B. You might not wander more than a few dozen yards in any direction. The goal is to open yourself up to the landscape and let it work its gentle magic to relax and restore you.

 Ready to try forest bathing yourself? Book an escape to nature today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Take Care of a Houseplant

For this week’s wellness tip, we want to encourage you to bring a bit of nature into your home by buying some house plants. Not only are they stylish decor that add a pop of color, but they also provide a lot of health benefits, while keeping you connected to nature. Here are a few reasons to invest in a new houseplant.

1. Can Improve Concentration and Focus

Try adding a plant to your desk to boost your mood, which will help you concentrate and focus during your workday.

2. Houseplants Purify the Air in Our Homes

NASA researchers found that some houseplants can remove up to 87% of airborne toxins in our homes in just 24 hours. 

3. Help Us Manage Stress and Anxiety 

Not only does bringing a bit of nature into your home help manage stress and anxiety, but taking care of your plants is a great way to remind yourself to take care of you too.

A Few of Our Favorite Spots to Find New Houseplants: 

Ready to surround yourself in nature? Book your Getaway today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Embrace Boredom

According to the psychologist John Eastwood, boredom is “the unfulfilled desire for satisfying activity” — when our mind and bodies are looking for, but failing to find, something that merits our meaningful attention.

Researchers have found that subjects who are asked to perform boring tasks later perform better than a control group at a creative activity. The scientists believe that when we’re bored, we tend to start daydreaming, engaging in the kind of free and associative thinking that’s fertile ground for creativity.

Boredom can also make us more productive. When we’re uninspired by the task in front of us, it’s easy to indulge in distractions like social media, online shopping, or texting. The productivity expert Josh Kaufman advises us to resist this impulse and embrace the boring task instead. He calls this “strategic boredom” — when we don’t allow ourselves anything else to focus on, we’re more inspired to finish the boring task quickly.

Here are some tips to help you embrace boredom. 

1. Don’t Dismiss Boredom 

Next time you find yourself in a potentially boring situation — waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting on a bus or train, stuck at your desk with an uninspiring assignment—resist the impulse to focus on something more entertaining. If you don’t have pressing responsibilities, let your mind wander and see where it leads you.

2. Approach Boredom With Curiosity

Researchers have identified multiple forms of boredom ranging from indifferent (calm but disengaged) to reactant (negative feelings, like a desperate wish to be doing something else). When you notice boredom, ask yourself about the nature of that feeling. What thoughts and feelings can you identify?

3. Listen to Your Boredom

Your boredom may be sending you an important message. Being consistently bored at work is a good sign that your work isn’t challenging you. If you’re bored around your friends or significant other, you may have gotten into a social pattern you no longer find stimulating or fulfilling — meaning it may be time to introduce new conversation topics or new activities.

Ready to daydream at a tiny cabin in the woods? Book your Getaway today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Make Art

Art making is a regular part of our lives when many of us are growing up. But as we get older, folks who pursue careers in the arts often specialize in one form or another, and those of us who don’t consider ourselves “real artists” often fall out of the habit of making any art at all.

It’s a problem worth trying to solve, because art (both making it and consuming it) can enrich our lives in lots of ways. Art has the power to change how we see and experience the world around us. Making art allows us to explore other sides of ourselves and even surprise ourselves. It can also be an important mode of self-expression: a way of translating our thoughts, experiences, and emotions into new forms, then using those forms to connect with others.

You don’t have to possess any special talent or formal education to make art. You just have to be willing to try it out. Here are some ideas to help you start creating again.

Looking for more wellness tips? Check out  “Getting Away: 75 Everyday Practices for Finding Balance in Our Always-On World” by our founder, Jon Staff.

1. Carry a Blank Notebook

Carry a blank notebook to capture inspiration when it strikes. Make a conscious effort to notice and record the things that interest and inspire you. Use your notebook as a pressure-free space to jot down rough ideas and sketches. Or take pictures on your smartphone or with a camera to create a visual diary.

2. Carve Out Time

Developing an artistic practice is like developing any other skill: It requires dedicated time. “Step firmly in your path and dare; be wild two hours a day!” advised the Postimpressionist painter Paul Gauguin. If you can’t find two hours in your daily schedule for artistic wildness, start by reserving at least one hour a week. 

3. Be Creative Anywhere 

When it comes to making art, the sky’s the limit: You don’t need to be sitting in front of an easel, a potter’s wheel, or a grand piano. You can make art from anything you can imagine: gum wrappers, tire tracks, or the movement of your own body.

4. Take a Class 

Signing up for an art class will force you to commit to a regular artistic practice, at least for the duration of the course. Take the opportunity to improve on a skill you’ve practiced before, or try something brand new. 

5. Make Bad Art

Julia Cameron, the author of the bestselling creativity guide “The Artist’s Way,” keeps a sign in her workspace that reads: I AM WILLING TO MAKE BAD ART. She says, “We must not deny ourselves the dignity of growth… By being willing to make bad art, I am free to make any art — and often, art that is very good.” When you’re willing to make bad art, you’re actually willing to make progress.

6. Schedule a Craft Night

Instead of throwing a dinner party or meeting at the bar, invite friends over for a craft night. Get some basic supplies (like drawing and construction paper, colored pencils and pens, watercolors, glue, etc.) and encourage people to contribute their own craft materials.

7. Check Out Getaway’s Artist Fellowship Program 

We offer free overnight stays in our tiny cabins to artists looking to harness their talents in a focused environment surrounded by nature. Anyone involved in creative work is considered a good candidate for the fellowship program.

Ready to plan a creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Find the Constellations

Based on feedback we’ve received from our guests, one of the best parts of a Getaway is the opportunity to stargaze far from city lights. This makes sense as an astonishing 99% of people in the United States and Europe can’t see the Milky Way from where they live due to light pollution.

Few things make us feel awe — that sense of wonder mixed with a touch of both fear and reverence — like being immersed in nature. When we stare out across a vast ocean or canyon, take in the panoramic view from a mountaintop, or gaze up at the stars, we recognize that we’re a very small part of something much greater than ourselves.

This can be an unnerving feeling, but as researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have found, it can also make us better people. Further studies have found that in addition to inspiring awe, stargazing can also reduce stress and increase positivity. Here are some tips to keep in your back pocket on your next Getaway to help you find the constellations. 

Invest in a Red Flashlight

The warm glow of a red flashlight will give you enough light to see without ruining your night vision, unlike the bright glare of a regular blue-white flashlight, which forces your eyes to readjust every time you switch it on and off. 

Bring Binoculars

Especially if you’re just getting started, astronomers advise holding off on investing in a costly, tricky-to-use telescope. Instead, pick up an inexpensive pair of binoculars, which allow syou to see the sky in far greater detail than with the naked eye.

Be Strategic About Timing 

Crisp, cold nights are much better for stargazing than warm, muggy ones, when humidity creates haze in the air. And you’ll see the stars more clearly if you choose a night when the moon is waxing or waning, since a full moon’s brightness can wash out the pinpricks of sunlight.

“Find Your Park After Dark” With the NPS 

The National Park Service’s website provides listings of park-sponsored evening events, activities, and educational programming nationwide, along with listings for observatories and stargazing tips.

Get Help From Apps

With a variety of apps, users can simply point their phone cameras at the sky and instantly identify the stars, constellations, and planets overhead.

Need an escape to nature? Book your Getaway today.

For Your Free Time

Wellness Tip: Observe A Digital Sabbath

How are you upgrading your relationship to technology? One habit to consider implementing into your week is the digital sabbath — reserve one full day each week for taking a break from digital technology. Observing a digital sabbath allows you to slow down and enjoy time to rest — and not just rest that’s about recharging for more work later, but rest that reminds us that we are human beings, not human doings. 

Choose One Day a Week to Fully Disconnect 

If you struggle to find one full day to go screen-free, consider rearranging your schedule. Do you have digital obligations that absolutely can’t wait 24 hours? If the answer is yes, ask yourself what makes them so essential and what would happen if you waited a day?

Find a Community

A digital sabbath is easier to observe when you do it with others, especially when you’re first trying it out. Enlist a friend, partner, or family member to go tech-free with you.

Make a List of Tech-Free Activities

Take a walk, cook a meal, work on a craft project, read a print newspaper or magazine, go to the beach, read a book, clean your house, go for a bike ride, take a nap, write postcards — there are limitless possibilities.

Need to plan an unplugged escape to nature? Book your Getaway today.