3 tips & 7 ideas to get away

There’s a great line at the beginning of the movie Gladiator, when the character Maximus asks his servant if he finds it hard to do his duty. The servant replies that some of the time, he does what he has to do, and the rest of the time, he does what he wants to do.

Do you work hard, honor your commitments, and take care of your responsibilities so you can do what you want to do?


The next question is, how much of your time do you get to the things you want to do? Are you running from one routine to another? Is it time for a getaway?

It might be. If so, how?

The how of getting away is the tricky part.

Obstacles rear their funny heads. The two biggest ones are time and money.

There are other labels too. Laundry. Soccer games. The car needs an oil change. Empty fridge. How do you fit a getaway into all of that?

Very carefully. One place to start is with a few key tips to get you started on your next getaway:

First, choose an amount of time that will feel like a break. Is it thirty minutes? Four hours? Do you need to get away once a week or once a month? Is there a number and a time you can fit into your weekly schedule that will contribute to your overall sense of well-being? Pencil it in your calendar and do everything you can to stick to it.

Next, consider places that make you feel relaxed and not frazzled. This is a big one. What will make you feel calm and easy? Peaceful? For example, I don’t care for shopping at all. Running errands is not a getaway that counts as down time or easy, for me. I prefer to be outside or somewhere with a book.

What are the surroundings you need that will help you feel rejuvenated when your getaway is complete? This might require experimentation before you figure out what works best for you. You might find you can do the same kind of getaway over and over, or you might find that you like to try something new each time. Or rotate.

Finally, it behooves us to talk about money. We can value a getaway, we understand how beneficial it is for us, and we can really want it, but sometimes the money just isn’t there. Maybe we have medical expenses. Or perhaps it’s time to take a break, but it’s also the same month you have two birthday parties to plan. Your credit cards might even be maxed out and taking a trip would be irresponsible.

When these circumstances happen, it’s time to get creative with our downtime. You may not be able to afford a week in Hawaii, but you can likely still afford a local getaway, even for a few hours one Saturday afternoon a month.

What’s most important is you consider what you need out of your getaway and how you can get it.

With your tips in mind, here are a few ideas to help you get started.

  • Start small. How often do you visit your local coffee shop to just sit and breathe? Or bookstore? Maybe the beautiful park not far from your house? Starting small and local can be a fast and easy way to fit getting away into your life. It’s often affordable too. You don’t even have to spring for the $7 latte. Regular coffee is fine. Books can be from the library. (Oooo…the library, another great spot for a getaway!) Or you can head outdoors with a blanket, water bottle, and optional bug spray.
  • Take a bike ride. There is something magical about getting on a bicycle and taking a spin. A breeze runs through your hair, you get some good endorphins pumping, and before you know it, your mood can be be lifted with the sensation of freedom that comes from being footloose and fancy-free on your bicycle. It literally feels like you’re getting away. A run works for this too, but there’s something about being on a bike that feels carefree and exciting.
  • Book a planned-for-you trip. Retreats planned by someone else are great. All you have to do is book your travel and show up, ready to relax. My favorites are when all of the meals are included and I don’t have to worry about anything. These are usually pricier trips, requiring advance planning. They make great birthday or holiday gifts, even if it’s just to ask for money to support you taking this trip. Or help with the kids while you’re gone.
  • Book a trip you plan for yourself. Are you a planner? If so, and if putting together a getaway for yourself sounds like fun, go for it! This can be simple and easy, and often inexpensive, or it can be complicated with lots of opportunities for trying new things. What will make you feel rejuvenated – and also leave you feeling good about the investment you make?
  • Send the family away. This is a fantasy of mine that is going to be one of my New Year intentions. Send the husband away with the kids and have at least one entire day in my house by myself. Not to clean the bathrooms or do the laundry, but just to be at home, alone, in the quiet of my own space and my own things. That old beat-up chair I put on my screened porch is calling my name…I’d love to sit in it longer than two minutes at a time.
  • Set aside a chunk of time for a project. Is open-ended relax time a challenge? Do you have a project you’d love to make some progress on? Old photos piling up? Plan a day or weekend to just work on the photo book project that keeps getting pushed aside. Bust out your paints and get messy. Declutter a space. Learn to make homemade pasta. Sometimes we need to getaway from our regular responsibilities in order to be active in other areas. You don’t necessarily have to leave your house for this, but you do need to leave the dirty dishes in the sink. Order take out. Give yourself permission to focus only on your project for an amount of time that seems right to you.
  • Mimic the Bill Gates reading retreat. It’s been well publicized that Bill Gates takes a week every year to getaway with a pile of books. I haven’t done a week of reading ever. As a mom, I consider myself darn lucky if I can read for 20-30 minutes a day – it’s one of my priorities. Now that I think of it, if I put reading on my white board as one of my daily items, it would get a check mark every single day. I digress…reading is a fantastic escape. You can go to new worlds and have adventures for the low market price of a library card. A book or stack of books, a favorite chair, and maybe some chocolate, and everything else can sort of slip away.

What else can you think of that would make you feel rejuvenated?

Before I sign off on this topic, I want to include a short list of what I think are experiences to avoid for a getaway.

  • Any news source. The point of a getaway is to increase your energy.
  • Binge watching Netflix or Hulu or free shows on Amazon. This is a fast way to feel depleted. The opposite of how we want to feel at the end of a getaway.
  • Interactions with people who drain your energy. Again, we don’t want to need another getaway after our getaway.
  • Finally, when you move back into your normal responsibilities or daily life after a getaway, especially after one that lasts several days, go easy on yourself. Ease back in. You’ll likely be full to the brim with ideas and excitement, projects and goals.Those big ideas will turn into outstanding projects and open loops if you rush into them. Take your time. Plan your steps carefully. Take one task away when you add a new one. Better yet, say no to two tasks before you add another.

Are you ready to hop in your getaway car?


Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. For ideas on how you can get the benefits of journal writing without always keeping a traditional journal, check out Sara’s book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.

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