When friends ask what I did on last week’s trip to Los Cabos, it takes a bit of creativity to come up with an answer because, the real truth is, I did almost nothing! Our full range of activity consisted of little more than walks on the beach, devouring as much freshly-caught tuna as possible, and laying in the sun reading for hours on end. My toughest decision of the day was which chair I wanted to stake out by the pool… and would I like a coconut mojito or a ginger margarita while I lounge in it?

And that, my friends, was exactly the kind of trip I desperately needed after a summer and fall that was a blur of book photo shoots, media events, running after an increasingly active 1-year-old and always, a nonstop blogging schedule. It was such a refreshing week that I couldn’t help but spend some time thinking about a few little practices (ones I’ve typically relegated to “vacation-only” status) that led to the blissfully carefree vibe of the week so I can recreate some of that bliss back at home. Crossing my fingers that they’ll achieve even a fraction of the stress-melting effects as they did while I was a thousand miles away.

Keep reading for my favorite snapshots and a few of my strategies on bringing the vacay-vibe home, but first: some tidbits about the One&Only Palmilla, our home away from home throughout the week (and I’d dare say, one of the loveliest hotels on the planet.)

We landed in Cabo on Tuesday morning and were greeted in the open-air lobby with coconut-mango popsicles and a meandering trip around the property: cabanas on the beach, world-class spa (where I had one of the best massages of my life), gorgeous restaurants and countless cozy alcoves where one could settle in and watch the sunrise with a cappuccino… or sip cocktails as it sets. And our room! We got a surprise upgrade to an oceanfront suite, and every morning I awoke to an expanse of pure blue water and swaying palm trees.

I loved the authenticity of the décor — whitewashed walls, red-tiled roofs, and gorgeous artifacts made by nearby artisans. I felt an instant sense of tranquility as I wandered the grounds and explored the gardens bursting with tropical flowers and plant life. And the food! Not one but two Jean-Georges Vongerichten-led restaurants, including some of the best sushi (yes, amazing sushi in Mexico) I’ve ever experienced. I’m dying to recreate the tuna tartare that was served with little tostadas with avocado and yuzu sauce at home. Adam’s birthday was Wednesday, so we celebrated by having dinner at one of the cozy “moonlit” tables built into the cliff overlooking the Sea.

And now for my strategies on recreating that vacation state-of-mind! These are little rules I want to remember to help me fully engage on my next vacation, and to help bring a similar state of bliss on our next “staycation.” I’ve learned that my mental state has as much to do with getting fully rejuvenated as my surroundings.  For instance, have you ever taken a trip to somewhere really relaxing but stayed connected to email the whole time you were there? I have, and I left feeling as stressed out as I’d been when I arrived! I really believe that life is too short to not allow ourselves to be fully present when it’s time to relax and rejuvenate, and sometimes that means shutting off the outside world a bit. Here’s how I did it:

Vacation Mindset Strategy #1: Turn off your email, phone, social media, etc.

I remember when we took our trip to Greece a couple summers ago, and while I said I wasn’t going to answer emails, I still let them all come in on my phone. Of course when I had some downtime, I couldn’t help but take a peek at what was happening in my inbox, and sure enough, there was a note from a client who needed something “immediately,” and suddenly I was pulled back into work (and total distraction) again. So when I say “turn off,” I mean it – turn that out-of-office responder on and your phone off. If you must have your smart phone on in case of emergency, do what I did and delete your email accounts temporarily – it takes only a couple of minutes to reinstall them when you get home. I guarantee that this simple step will do more than anything else in shutting out distraction, allowing your brain to quiet, and freeing you to give focused, high-quality attention to the people you’re with.

Vacation Mindset Strategy #2: Listen to your body and follow its lead.

As a pretty disciplined person who loves to have a daily schedule, it was a bit of a revelation to me to pack away my calendar and just follow my body’s lead. We slept when we wanted to sleep (which might have meant an afternoon nap and turning in at 10pm every night!) and ate when we wanted to eat. When it comes to food, now’s the time to put away the “should’s and the shouldn’t’s.” Go ahead and eat whatever you want, but try to listen to your body’s fullness signals so you don’t feel totally sick the next day. Embrace the opportunity to do whatever you want, whenever you want!

Vacation Mindset Strategy #3: Embrace Unproductivity.

This is a tough one for me, since “relaxation” at home often consists of catching up on a TV show while I blog and fold laundry at commercial breaks. Even for us queens of multitasking, it’s necessary to occasionally kick back and spend time doing something for pure enjoyment. I spent hours on this trip reading novels in a poolside lounge chair (can’t wait to tell you guys about Me Before You, one of my favorite reads of the year), and then when my eyes got tired, I’d just lay back with my eyes closed and enjoy the feeling of warm sun on my face. Listen to music, journal, take a walk that’s not about working out or getting to some final destination, feast your eyes on something beautiful.

There you have it — a few steps to vacation bliss that I’m fully intending on employing at home when I need to get refreshed…but a flight to an exotic locale isn’t in the cards. I’d love to hear: what’s the best trip you’ve ever been on? And how do you bring a little bit of that paradise home with you?

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