It’s high time you took a little break from your job. But the question remains, should you take a brief vacation, or disappear from your normal routine for a few week’s excursion? And where should you go? Somewhere new, or just to that familiar spot for a time to relax at the family beach house?
Well, we like to think we have the answer to all of these questions, and more.
There is a particular place in South America where the cost of living is low but the value of your money is high; where you can enjoy the best weather, no matter when you come, and speaking of showing up and finding a party?
Medellin leads the world in holidays so your chances can’t be any better otherwise!
Expert psychologists and researchers have been studying the elements which go into creating your ideal vacation. Based on what’s most important, such as the pieces which boosts our well-being, relieves stress (thus impacting our health), and helps us fully recharge for returning to work.
Some conclusions: Longer vacations aren’t necessarily better than shorter ones. Engaging with activities you haven’t done before are healthy, even if you’re at home on a “staycation.” Naturally, if that can include travel to a location you’ve never been to, you’re better off.
And while you’re at it, take that valid principal one step further, and go where your primary language is NOT English, for added brain stimulation.
If you’re at all concerned with optimizing your time away from the office, as you’re about to see, there is no better place to get all these benefits, than with a cost-effective, thrilling ride down to one of the hottest South American cities, Medellin.
By the end of this article, we hope you’ll be convinced to come see us here. Right now, we’re going to share some pro tips for making this your best vacation EVER.
Begin with the End in Mind
Believe it or not, taking a little extra time to plan how you want your trip to end pays big dividends. We often remember an experience by how it finishes, so put the nice touch here, where you’ll have the freshest memory of it, for years to come.
One sure-fire winner is to plan a hang-gliding expedition, Medellin-style, on your very last day in town.
The energy associated with anticipation is half the fun. The act of you planning your vacation increases the sense of well-being that comes from it, studies show. We are actually happier before the trip than after.
The pro tip we tell everyone to benefit from? Start brushing up on your Spanish before you take off!
When you see the lush valley that holds Medellin, your sense of well-being will immediately improve. Over-arching feelings of happiness improve in as little as two days. On a longer vacation, the sense of health and well-being peaks on the eighth day, one study found.
Being able to exercise mental detachment is crucial for a successful vacation. Turning off the phone, and or limiting your email consumption to a certain time each day plays a vital role. Put the camera down occasionally. One activity this writer strongly recommends is to pick up a journal before you head down here.
Zip off alone into one of Medellin’s many cafes or leafy parks, and spend slow minutes writing about the wonders you’re experiencing, at all levels. From the joys of sleeping in, to the unusual activities you’ll be able to enjoy, and the (hopefully) more relaxed interactions you can have with family or friends, or even strangers. Somehow putting these shifting activities on paper can have a powerful effect of increasing the staying power of your pleasure.
It’s sad, but true—that vacation afterglow can fade quickly. Extend the beneficial effects by avoiding long hours at work and taking time to relax.
On holidays, health and well-being increase fast, in as little as just two days into a vacation, said Jessica de Bloom, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tampere in Finland. Dr. de Bloom, an organizational psychologist, researches the effects of vacations in part by calling study participants while they are away on trips and questioning them about how they feel and their levels of tension, fatigue and happiness, among other measures.
One possible extension? Take lots of photos of the breathtaking views of Medellin, and post them around your office, so you have great reminders of where you’ve been.
Dr. DE Bloom’s advice?
Vacations do make us feel better, and they are important for our health, researchers say. What’s more, studies show vacations reduce the risk of heart attacks and depression, relieve stress and can lead to improved work performance and creativity. One way to practically guarantee you’re going to have a relaxing trip is to go somewhere abroad, but make sure it’s where the “locals” go, when they want to unwind. This is true of Medellin, in Colombia. These days the vibe in this terrific city is so powerful that many locals from other countries drop in for leisure time.
In a study of 54 people vacationing for an average of 23 days, Dr. de Bloom and co-researchers found that measures of health and wellness improved during vacation compared with baseline, peaking at the eighth day before gradually declining.
“It could be that eight days is the ideal to fully gain the benefits of a holiday,” said Dr. de Bloom. The study was published in 2013 in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
Laura Beatrix Newmark, of New York, has tried many varying getaways of different lengths. Her ideal vacation: nine days. “You really feel like you can get into a different zone and then when you come back you feel like you’re in a different mind-set,” said the 38-year-old entrepreneur and mother of two young children.
Other psychologists recommend drawing out the planning and anticipation of going away. In one study, researchers conducted a series of experiments comparing anticipation to reflection. One of the scenarios included imagining a vacation, said Leaf Van Boven, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder and lead author of the study. The researchers found that anticipation led to more intense and satisfying emotions than the act of remembering past experiences.
“We pre-live experiences—that’s very emotionally arousing,” said Dr. Van Boven. “Once it’s in the past we tend to adopt more of a distant perspective from the experience.” This element can be used very effectively if you’re a vacation planner. Working out the details, where you’ll stay in Medellin, which museums you’ll attend, or the restaurants and bars you’ll try, all these little details spark imagination and build anticipation.
Practicing the sensations around being in full autonomy while on vacation also increases its benefits, experts say. Try to take control of the course of the day. For example, don’t let the alarm clock tell you when to get up, wake up naturally, said Dr. de Bloom. Take steps so you will be in control of your time, deciding which activities you want to do or not.
When you’re able to mentally detach from your working world also is important. Some executives have begun making this company policy, along with requiring employees to use up all their vacation time.
“While you’re on vacation you’re prohibited from contacting anyone in the company for business reasons and they are prohibited from contacting you,” said David Morken, the chief executive of Bandwidth, a Raleigh, N.C., technology company with about 500 employees.
Mr. Morken said there was some resistance in the company when he first instituted the policy, but that faded when the benefits became clear. “Everyone gets a chance to recharge, unplug and actually go dark and get off the grid on vacation,” he said.
On the other hand, for some people, not checking email at all can make a vacation more stressful, said Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist in New York City who writes about positive psychology issues in her blog “Positive Prescription.”
“Designate a time in the morning and maybe a time in the evening to check email,” she said. Here in Medellin, you’ll quickly notice how popular, with the digital nomad crowd, it is to head to the cafe or the restaurant to get online for a little while before exiting again.
Turning off your phone helps to share experiences with the people you’re with. And put down the camera occasionally. “You do sometimes miss the moment when you take a picture,” she said. More so, with video, it seems to this writer, who has seen more people shooting video and missing great moments while seemingly obsessed with capturing every last detail of their trip as if they’re on mars and need to record so the humans will believe the story, when they return. Sadly, much of this video never even gets watched.
Studies show people often reflect on an experience, including a vacation, based largely on how it ends. “Do your best to make things end well. If you’re going to splurge and fly business class, don’t do it on the way there, do it on the way home,” said Dr. Boardman.
Unfortunately, the positive effects of a vacation don’t last long, normally no more than a week. In one study, nearly 1,000 people in the Netherlands who went on vacation were asked about their happiness before and after a trip. Their responses were compared with those of more than 500 people who continued their everyday life during the same period. This is why we recommend the journal hack for you hearty adventurers who want to extend your vacation bliss. When you feel the good tingly sensations begin to fade, carve out a few minutes away from your distractions, and go back to re-read your joyous experiences that you wrote down while you were far, far away from all that is helping you forget where you just were.
Experts seem to agree, easing back into work can help extend the post-vacation bliss. A 2010 study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior surveyed 131 teachers in Germany, and found avoiding excessive work following vacation and getting leisure time in the evenings prolonged the benefits of the vacation.
Of course, this is yet another benefit of coming to Medellin, as you’ll have a nice, relaxing airplane ride, back to your home country… though we don’t recommend you stay away too long.
Whatever your motivations and expectations for vacation, we have found one prescription that suits all travelers. Medellin, Colombia.