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As some of you already know, I recently returned from a “vacation” with my children and mother in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (PV).  What a blessing to be able to do this and please know that I didn’t take one second of it for granted.

This was actually my third visit to PV, so I was expected to be a bit of a tour guide for everyone. My mother and oldest daughter have never been out of the country and haven’t been on a plane in several years, so I also helped navigate the ins and outs of modern-day air travel.  As you all know, quite a bit has changed over the years.

I am a huge proponent of life-work balance and felt it necessary to share a couple of thoughts with those who think planning such a “vacation” will provide much-needed relief from work.  I don’t want you to refrain from planning a family trip because it’s so important, but just be mindful of a few things.

First, I love my career so I looked at this trip as more of honoring a commitment I made to myself to leave the country at least once a year as opposed to an escape from work. I fell in love with PV years ago and always look forward to my visits to such an amazing part of the world where I feel like an extended member of the PV family each and every time.

It quickly became crystal clear to me, though, that the word “vacation” is not synonymous with “work-life balance.”  They definitely don’t always go hand-in-hand.  Leaving the country and spending a few days at an amazing resort in Mexico might sound like a vacation to most. It certainly sounded like one to me and has typically felt like a vacation in the past. This trip, however, was more like work because I was the sole responsible adult for a group of four.  I handled everything from translating from Spanish to English, signing the restaurant checks, and planning/executing the itinerary.

Tip: For group travel, plan your trip with another adult you can share the decision-making process with to alleviate the feeling of constantly being “on.”  Is it really a vacation if your brain doesn’t take a break?

I’d also highly recommend you limit group vacations to only occur during years when you are also able to plan a solo getaway.  This tip is courtesy of a life-long friend who couldn’t understand why I thought this trip would be considered a vacation for me. Now that I am back, I am planning a solo getaway for the end of next month to celebrate my birthday. Of course, I am also interested in hearing your suggestions. It’s a last-minute trip, preferably within one hour of the Northern Virginia area, and I’d love to stay at a bed and breakfast.  Drop a note in the Comments section if you have recommendations or send me a quick email.

As a mom who wears multiple hats every day, establishing some level of balance between your bill-paying activities and quality time with family, friends, and yourself are life-saving. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you have to remove yourself from the day-to-day hustle to breathe and smell the roses.

I want to take this moment to remember my sister-in-law who passed away this past month as a result of a car crash. She was an amazing woman who recognized the importance of life-work balance and made lasting memories with friends and family.  She worked hard and played even harder. She will truly be missed.

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