Why Everyone Deserves A Vacation

Why Everyone Deserves A Vacation

Let's be real, you could use a few days off from all the stress that life throws at you.
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I recently just came back from a trip with my family, and I'm starting to have mixed feelings about being home. Even though it was a much needed time off from school and work, I really needed it to feel healthier mentally, physically, and emotionally. When you're young, parents and teachers reiterate how important it is to have a good sleep schedule and to have time to openly think about things. However, when you're older, it gets harder and harder to believe your friends and family when they tell you to take some time off for yourself.

Let's be real, you could use a few days off from all the stress that life throws at you. We all know that stress isn't good for you and too much of it can eventually cause even more problems in your daily routine. What you actually need to be doing is catching up on sleep, eating various healthy foods, meeting up with old friends, and reading a book you haven't touched in awhile. This escape from reality is supposed to allow you to do things you haven't done in awhile and to spark more joy into your life.

There is this idea in a lot of our minds that a vacation has to be away from the home and at an exotic place on our beautiful planet; however, this is the wrong idea. Yoga, for example, is a great relaxation technique that can be done by people of all ages. A great thing about yoga is that you don't have to go somewhere special to partake in it, as it can be done in the comfort of your home. There are many other things you can do such as going to the pool to tan, treating yourself at a fancier restaurant, or simply enjoying a good chick flick with your girlfriends. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to grow during these mini vacations that can even happen daily.

I know that not everyone has many vacation days, but pampering yourself for a few days will only do good, not harm. When you do choose to relax, you might even find yourself smiling and expressing your love more to the people you care so much about. I hope that you never forget to tell them how much you love them and treasure the days you do get to spend with them.

Whenever you go on your next trip, I hope you think of this as a time for you to lay back and relax because you deserve and need it. If you're someone who works non-stop to provide for your family, a high school or college student, or a young child, you may need time to get away from all the chaos in the world and let loose. Above all, everyone can spare a few days to remind themselves of the blessings they have and how amazing they truly are.

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Meet The College Student Who Took A Solo Road Trip Across The United States

With only a cooler, a bag of electronics, and a bag of clothes, Alex Kim embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

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Not many college students can say that they've taken a road trip across the United States. Even fewer can say that they've gone on that journey alone.

However, Alex Kim can say that within one month, he drove from the east coast to the west coast of the United States by himself. And he made sure to hit all the major attractions on the way.

You name it — the White House, Cloud Gate, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Yosemite — Kim has been to all those places.

Kim is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in religious studies with a minor in human rights. He plans to attend law school in the fall of 2019. So, he knew that if he wanted to take a trip across the states, the summer of 2018 would be the perfect time.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

I had the opportunity to meet Kim when he briefly stopped by Lawrence, Kansas, near the final stretch of his journey. When he told me about his trip, I was baffled, intrigued, and impressed all at once.

To take a long road trip with friends is one thing, but to take a month-long road trip by himself is an entirely different story.

Kim said he simply wanted to meet people. He had the opportunity to meet other brothers in his fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi, and made quite a few friends (myself included!) on the way. He also visited family friends and people that he knew through Greek life.

Besides meeting people, this trip also consisted mostly of driving an 6-8 hours per day, listening to educational podcasts, and traveling to national parks, monuments, and memorials. He even bought along a burner and pot to cook ramen noodles in the national parks. Kim called these meals his "ramen adventures."

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Kim said this trip was extremely of out of his comfort zone, but it helped that he went alone because he was able to set his own schedules, plan his own routes, and do everything at his own discretion.

When asked about why he decided to go alone, Kim said "Going with someone else means that I will spend way more money than I should… If I went with another person, I also have to cater sleeping accommodations as well."

There were many times where Kim simply slept in his car because he didn't know anyone in the area, or he didn't want to pay for a hotel or Airbnb. But he didn't have to sleep in his car the whole trip. Half the time, he had friends or family members who were willing to house him for a night or so.

In addition, going alone gave Kim a lot of time to reflect on his past and what's to come in his future.

"I can't tell you how many times I thought of what my next chapter of life will be," Kim said.

However, going alone also presented its fair share of obstacles. Some difficulties included bad weather, over exhaustion, too much caffeine, and lack of sleep and nutritious food. One of the biggest problems that he faced was loneliness.

Kim admitted that there were periods of time where he felt extremely lonely. When he knew that he wasn't going to see people for a while, he would call his parents in the morning to tell them where he had been and that he was doing well.

There was one instance where he was first traveling to a national park, Yellowstone Park, and he internally freaked out. For the most part, Kim heard nothing but complete radio silence because there was no reception. Kim said that he felt scared because he wasn't in control of his loneliness.

Aside from those challenges, Kim was glad to say that the road trip went well, and he didn't have any car trouble.

For him, some notable locations were New York City and Los Angeles. Kim didn't really go to L.A. for sightseeing, but rather to pay his respects to an old mentor who passed away. Even though he explored much of nature and national parks, he said that the most breathtaking view was not in fact at a national park, but at a family friend's farm in Harlington, Nebraska.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

"I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed the countryside in Nebraska. Being away from the city lights, it was very peaceful and quiet. The sunset was breathtaking," he said.

Overall, Kim approximated that he traveled across the United States for a grand total of 9,700 miles, and despite some challenges, he really enjoyed this trip. He met new and old people and witnessed stunning views that he wouldn't have seen back in North Carolina. As a lone traveler, Kim practiced humility and now sees the world with a fresh perspective.

Kim also learned many lessons along the way and here are six that he shared:

1. Learn to rely on yourself.

2. Sometimes it's good to play it by ear. You'll have the freedom to do so much more.

3. If you can't play it by ear, always have a contingency plan.

4. The people who constantly kept up with you throughout your whole trip are you true friends.

5. Get out of your comfort zone; learn to be versatile.

6. Take time to yourself to reflect on your past, make amends if possible, and plan out your future.

After his trip, Kim returned to North Carolina, taking with him all the experience and lessons he gained from his travels. Nowadays, he keeps busy by studying for the LSAT in September and working towards getting into law school.

But would Kim take this extraordinary road trip again if he could? Most definitely.

See more pictures from his trip below.


Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

All photos here are provided courtesy of Alex Kim.

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The Lessons I Learned After Several Kidnapping Attempts

Fact: I never used to be a fast runner before the day I was nearly abducted.

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Growing up, I was well accustomed to the frequent migratory routine my parents enforced because of the nature of their jobs. Circumstances led to me moving in with a different set of relatives every year in my high school years. By the time I graduated, I was an expert in assimilating to new environments and ideas. I had my share of scary experiences, learned to navigate the world largely on my own at a young age, but I didn't think there was a downside to becoming an independent person. I was an introvert by nature and I even came to enjoy the solitude my life offered me — until I was faced with a situation that changed my outlook on the world entirely.

I was compelled to instinctively react when walking by a parked car and two men with hoods over their heads got out suddenly, hurrying toward me, one holding a black garbage bag, without a word, I ran for my life.

Despite being told by numerous adults in my life about the real and scary existence of bad people who do bad things, what helped me most in dealing with the actual event was my own gut instinct.

Pexels- girl in alley

There are three ways to categorize kidnappings in the U.S. which are dependent on the identity of the perpetrators. Victims are typically abducted by a relative, nearly half, the second most common method involves an acquaintance, quickly followed by stranger kidnappings.

Incidents involving women dominate the number of stranger kidnappings. Not unlike my circumstances, the women abductees were typically outdoors and near or in their neighborhood. When I look back at the three other attempts I was unfortunate enough to experience, I was able to identify similar or recurring factors. It's hardly something to feel good about, but with each occurrence, I learned to better protect myself when and if something were to happen, I was grateful for that realization.

Woman staring up at sky

In each case, including two that were abroad, I was on my own. In two out of three, I was approached by the potential abductor, Besides my first experience, in which I was almost black-bagged by two mysterious men and raced away like in a Hollywood film scene — there weren't any obvious signs that the people I met were criminals.

While in my late teens, I was in an airport waiting for a flight. Unsurprisingly, my flight had been delayed out of a popular European city. I had picked a seat in front of a random gate and sat back fighting the urge to plop over and sleep for days. Seemingly, out of thin air, a man appeared in front of me holding a dark cup. He started speaking a foreign language and smiling at me, nudging the cup towards me. I shook my head and smiled back, thinking he was just being kind.

Except... there was something that felt off about accepting the drink from him, no matter how nice he was coming off. I continued to politely decline. A pack of travelers walked by around that point and he slowly backed off when they stopped and stood nearby, chattering amongst one another. He waved goodbye to me cheerily as he walked away, still smiling up until he turned the corner.

It was only later that I connected the interaction to one that could have resulted in my disappearance. When I finally got on my flight headed back to the states, I got to talking with the passenger beside me. Apparently, there was an unknown man that was spotted frequently around the airport, he would approach females sitting alone and offer them food or drink, starting a conversation with them. From witness accounts, women would later miss their flights or be unaccounted for in some way. The suspicion by authorities was that the man drugged the women and led them away without attracting attention. After our talk, I couldn't stop shaking for the remainder of my flight.

Pexels- Busy street

I decided to go shopping one day while staying with relatives during a vacation break. It was almost midday and humid, I was walking down a busy street with a fistful of groceries. My relatives lived downtown in a major city and I had to carry the bags back, resting every few feet. During one of those breaks, I heard a woman yelling above me. After it persisted I looked directly up at her, shielding one side of my face from the bright sun.

She looked like she was in her late forties, early fifties, looking frantic. When our eyes met she suddenly nodded and pointed at me, "Yeah, you!" I pointed at myself, "Me?" I mouthed. She nodded again. "Can you bring my book back?"

I stood there confused, until she pointed to a spot a few feet away. where a book laid on the pavement. It clicked in my mind, her book had fallen from the balcony and she wanted me to take it back up to her apartment. Maybe it was the heat or just an uneasy feeling I got but I decided to keep walking.

When I got back to my relatives place later on and had the chance to tell them about the woman's strange behavior, my cousin abruptly gasped. She told us about a rumor in the city recently, one related to kidnappings that were planned out by using a woman to lure victims in. I couldn't help but wonder if I had nearly fallen for a trap.

There have been moments in my life that I've thought things seemed off. I didn't necessarily feel scared, I just felt off. By following those feelings I was able to avoid dangerous situations. There are some events you can't prepare for, not entirely. However, you can always stop and think about a decision you're about to make and reconsider it. That moment might save your life.

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