Soulful vacations are short personal sabbaticals that focus on any aspect of personal development. These vacations are for people who want to make rapid and profound self-improvement. This may come through soul-searching activities, personal growth projects, fitness initiatives, habit changes, spiritual endeavors, or a combination of all these things.
Note: Because this article encompasses so much of what this and my other websites are about, there is naturally a large number of links to more information.
They are typically solo vacations as depicted in the book and movie, “Eat Pray Love,” but couples are also attracted to these unique getaways. They offer couples the opportunity to develop as a pair and as individuals.
There are many travel and retreat services ready to fulfill many of your desires, but I prefer to design my own soulful vacations. That way it fits my needs exactly, I am not forced to adapt to someone else’s schedule, and it’s a better value.
I’ve been on countless soulful vacations throughout my life beginning at a very young age. Some of them have led to major breakthroughs, some have been enriching, some have produced marginal results, and some were a waste of time in terms of personal growth. I’ll share what I learned and discovered later so that you can get the most out of your soulful vacation.
When I left home at 15, I imagined having an adventure like my hero Tom Sawyer. I can still recall seeing that experience as an opportunity to do some soul-searching. Although I didn’t fully understand what it meant at the time, I believe my heart was in the right place.
My soulful vacations have mostly been done alone, but I did do a few couple’s retreats. Although my girlfriend and I benefited from these retreats, I felt that the format was too shallow, restrictive, and inefficient.
I have no precise explanation about what has led me to go on so many soul-searching vacations. It’s just an activity that has always fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I think a big part of the appeal is the adventure. What greater adventure is there than probing, examining, discovering, and mastering your own soul? It can be very scary, but it can also be very empowering!
I’ve been on soulful vacations of various durations, intensities, and outcomes to many places including Lake Tahoe, Convict Lake, Hawaii, Big Sur, Catalina, Palm Springs, Laguna Beach, and hotels near my home. I usually stayed in a hotel or cabin, but I sometimes slept outdoors in a campground.
Location is a key component to having a meaningful soulful vacation. It’s important that you select a place that really inspires you. Looking at my list, you can see that I’ve been to some pretty nice places.
You might think that you can work on your personal development at home in the evenings or on weekends. You absolutely can, but the excitement of being in a beautiful, unfamiliar environment can stimulate fresh thinking and change. It’s particularly helpful to be away from the place that reminds you of your normal routine, current problems, and bad memories.
I consider soulful vacations to be mostly individual activities. However, if a couple were passionate about relationship refinement or personal development I’d strongly urge them to give it a try. I present several ideas that can act as a framework in an article at Solotopia entitled, “Romantic Getaways for Every Taste, Style, & Situation.” The two sub-articles that are the most fitting are entitled “Romantic Getaways for Relationship Renewal” and “Romantic Getaways for Fitness Refinement.”
Because I’ve been on so many of these vacations, I’ve been able to learn quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. I’ll share this information so that you can get the most benefit and enjoyment from your soulful vacation. First, I’ll give you a list of ideas on things to do. Then I’ll give you a list of some “Do’s” and “Don’ts.”
Had I had this information when I started going on these vacations, I might almost qualify as a guru apprentice by now. I’d sure love to be writing this in a mountaintop chateau in… let’s say… Lake Tahoe! 🙂
Ideas for Things to Do
- Write in a journal at the end of each day. Do it even if you’ve never done this before. Include your activities, thoughts, feelings, dreams, and whatever comes to mind. Review the journal near the end of your vacation. Then enter a summary, conclusion, or just your final thoughts.
- Conduct a soul-searching and/or brainstorming session by writing your thoughts and feelings in your journal, word processor, or on paper. There should be no fixed amount of time for completing this task, but setting a 1-3 hour minimum is recommended. This means that you commit to sit down and write whatever comes to your mind for at least 1-3 hours regardless of how you feel.
- Create processes for yourself. 1.) Spend an unspecified amount of time going through old pictures, letters, journals, and calendars. Your goal is to reflect, evaluate, and re-chart your course as needed. When you’re done, enter your thoughts, conclusions, and plans into your journal. 2.) Spend a morning or afternoon in complete silence doing nothing but keeping your thoughts in the present. For more information refer to “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. 3.) Get up before dawn, go outside to a predetermined location where you can watch the sunrise, and connect with nature, the world, and the universe — God, or whatever is meaningful to you. Sunrises are best because this is the most peaceful time of the day.
- Create memorable growth experiences for yourself. 1.) Do something that scares you. Go parasailing, bungee jumping, river rafting, rock climbing, or other challenging activity. 2.) Take a class doing something you’re not sure that you can do. For example, that might be yoga, meditation, weight lifting, vegetarianism, or other class. 3.) Do something that is completely outside your comfort zone. For example, smile and cheerfully say hello to everyone you meet for a predetermined amount of time from 1-12 hours. Or introduce yourself to 3-5 strangers and start a conversation within a preset amount of time.
- Identify your goals for the next 1-10 years, develop an action plan for each, and enter each of them into your calendar.
- Create a vision board of pictures, words, and numbers that quantify your goals and dreams. Gather these materials before you leave and then create the board during your vacation.
- Create a detailed description of your perfect partner and develop a plan on how you’re going to find them and create a strong relationship.
- Estimate the number of days that you have left in your life.
- Write your own obituary, gravestone inscription, and funeral service message.
- Write letters to repair relationships.
- Write letters to renegotiate or end toxic relationships.
- Write closure statements in your journal about lost loved ones, jobs, homes, or other losses.
- Write your half of a comprehensive communication exchange between you and your romantic partner. Your goal being to renew, enhance, and/or transform your relationship
- Quit a bad habit like smoking, drinking, using, or overeating.
- Start a good habit like daily meditation, journaling, exercise, and/or healthy eating.
- Give up coffee.
- Give up artificially sweetened drinks and foods.
- Give up junk food.
- Give up television and the news.
- Read or listen to a preset number of books related to your goals.
- Watch a preset number of DVD’s related to your goals.
- Lose a preset number of pounds.
- Increase the intensity and frequency of your exercise routine.
- Exercise 1-3 times per day. For example, do power walking in the morning, resistance or abdominal exercises on alternate days before lunch, and swimming, tennis, or other sport in the afternoon.
- Meditate at the beginning of each day before breakfast and the end of each day before dinner.
- Watch the sunrise every morning and anticipate your day.
- Watch the sunset every evening and reflect on your day.
- Spend 30-60 minutes per day visualizing yourself living and experiencing the life that your desire.
- Practice keeping your thoughts only on what you want for preset blocks of time of 1-12 hours. For information about the importance of this, see the recommended book list under the category “Law of Attraction.”
- Begin a lifestyle of only eating healthy foods.
- Begin the process of becoming a vegan by only eating these foods, reading books or online articles about the lifestyle, and preparing a menu for when you return.
- Do a 1-3 day juice, smoothie, fruit, or water health fast.
- Develop a list of goals for your soulful vacation.
- Create a daily schedule by the hour for your vacation.
- Keep your attention on what you want to accomplish.
- Summons the feeling as though you’ve already achieved your goals.
- Get up early every day.
- Go to bed early every night even if you don’t feel like it initially. Getting plenty of rest will improve the results of this process.
- Drink lots of spring or purified water.
- Eat healthy foods for every meal and snack.
- Take vitamin supplements after breakfast every day.
- Bring healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
- Bring books and other materials that support your goals for your soulful vacation. Include these items in your schedule.
- Bring music that inspires and moves you the most!
- Tell loved ones to call ONLY in the case of a dire emergency.
- Keep the end result in mind.
- Plan a reward celebration for the end of your soulful vacation. This activity might take up the entire day or just an evening. Your reward might include going to a spa, getting a massage, going out to dinner, and taking in a concert, play, or show. You should be on such a natural high by this point that drinking alcohol will not even be a consideration.
- Don’t drink any alcohol or take any drugs. This includes “so-called” mind-enhancing drugs. The goal of this activity is to achieve the highest level of consciousness, clarity, and understanding so that you can make the most progress possible.
- Don’t bring any work-related items with you.
- Don’t encourage people to contact you while you’re gone. Your focus on this vacation is you! You’ll be more valuable to them if you make the most of this experience.
- Don’t bring any off-topic materials including books and magazines.
- Don’t check your cell phone (or another mobile device), email, or other social media.
- Don’t surf the Internet, except to find and read information related to your goals.
- Don’t waste your time watching television or off-topic movies.
- Don’t waste your time watching, listening to, or reading the news.
- Don’t get off track, give up, or leave early.
Soulful vacations can be the catalyst for major positive changes in your life. The criteria for maximum success are courage, optimism, and tenacity.
Start the adventure by making plans for your soulful vacation this week!