I don’t know about you, but our vacation budget isn’t exactly brimming. We try to make an effort to get away once every 18 months or so. Every time I get on a plane or settle in the car for the journey home from vacation, I’m equal parts elated and deflated. Elated to sleep in my own bed and to get back to a routine. Deflated because, well, routine and probably lack of sunshine back at home. Oh. And because LAUNDRY. So much laundry.
Those long months between getaways can really drag on, as can winter in Kansas. A few years ago, I accidentally stumbled upon my recipe for bringing back the vacation vibes without ever leaving my house! True, it’s not exactly the same, but it gets me pretty close to vacation mode … the mindset, that is … and on particularly stressful days, it really works!
To make this magic work, you have to plan for it before you leave, or WHILE you’re on your trip, at the very least. Bring or buy a few key signature items that you really only have on vacation:
1. A soundtrack
On our first trip to the Caribbean, I made a Sergio Mendes-inspired playlist (think: all that great music from the movie Rio) and now I can’t listen to Waters of March without daydreaming of “our” palapa on the beach. This could also be a podcast series or audiobook! We have listened to books and podcasts together on vacation and it’s such a fun shared experience!
2. A signature scent
On that same trip, we stayed at a nice hotel and they have a signature scent – white tea something or other – and it is divine. My husband got online and found that scent in a million (stupidly expensive) forms, from reed diffusers and candles to lotion and shampoo. He bought me a reed diffuser, and it is instant hotel lobby vibes. Yes, please. Another great smell consideration is a specific lotion, perfume or sunscreen that you reserve just for vacation. Buy a sample size and whisk yourself off to a mini-vacay whenever you need a pick-me-up!
3. A special recipe
This can come in all forms, from very simple to a full-blown meal. On my first trip to my in-laws’ home in India, I, of course, ate (almost) everything. My mother-in-law’s cooking is incredible and inimitable — no hope of me recreating that at home. However, we also had sweet, milky Indian tea every afternoon, and we had a lifetime supply of FiberOne bars to tide us over on long travel days. My husband actually can replicate the tea, and we have a cup almost every weekend, taking us right back to my in-law’s rooftop terrace. And if I eat a FiberOne now, I’m right back on a bus, wheeling my way toward the majestic Taj Mahal.
Back in the Caribbean, we had breakfast almost every morning at Linda’s Dutch Pancakes. My fav pancake on the menu features pineapple and gouda. OH MY WORD. I can’t replicate Dutch pancakes at home, but I can put those two foods together and feel like I’m at Linda’s! We also loved a beachy restaurant called Fishes and More. They have a delicious shrimp cocktail appetizer with coconut curry dipping sauce. We have tried to replicate it and we’re very close, but not quite. The fun is in the attempt!
4. A signature drink
We visited the Bahamas a few years ago for one of our only kid-free trips. Our travel agent was awesome enough to personalize tumblers for us to take on our trip, so we used them every day at our all-inclusive resort. I basically drank bottomless mango mimosas for five straight days, and it was bliss! Easily duplicated at home for a brunchy weekend vacation vibe!
5. A splurge
For our trip to the Bahamas, I bought a few fancy facial care and makeup delights that I don’t usually allow myself. My favorites were these pineapple face wipes from Pacifica. I keep a small stash in my vanity now, and when I need a vacay moment, those face wipes take me right back to the beach.
Instructions for setting your vacation vibe at home:
1. Light the candle.
2. Tell Alexa to turn on your vacay playlist.
3. Pour yourself the drink while you’re making the dreamy recipe.
4. Bliss out on your vacation vibes and start mentally planning your next getaway.