When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back? It might be way overdue. You may not have celebrated your little victories, like learning how to adult, crushing your assignments at work, and being a really awesome best friend. That’s why I’m here to tell you that you can, and should, go on a trip somewhere new and bask in the beauty of the sun, sand, and surf. Most importantly, that’s why I’m here to teach you how to make the most of your vacation, so you don’t miss out on anything during your well-deserved break.

The truth is, some of us really don’t know how to vacation. We don’t know how to switch our brains to relaxation mode, or not check our inbox when we wake up in the morning. We wake up super early to rush to the breakfast food at the hotel like it’s going to run away, and plan out which days we’re going to spend by the pool or ocean.

If you ask me, you simply have to immerse yourself in the tropical vibes, the colorful smoothies, the culture of where you are, and the refreshing views. In addition, you have to dive into these four things to make the most of your #vacay.

1. Relax And Unplug From The Real World

First things first: To make the most of your vacay, you have to give yourself a chance to relax and unplug. That means taking an afternoon or two to hang by the pool, at a local coffee shop, or in a dreamy park that’s filled with pink flowers. It also means switching your phone to "Do Not Disturb" mode — assuming you’re in a safe area or with friends, of course — and blocking out the "real world."

Even if you love your work and are really passionate about what you do, sometimes it’s essential to let your mind wander and focus on other things. It brings new inspiration, less stress, and unexpected happiness into your life. It also gives you the chance to say, "Today, I’m doing nothing." How often can you say that?

It’s also reminds you that not having a to-do list, itinerary, or detailed schedule to stick to 24/7 is totally OK, as well as taking naps in the sun, roaming a new city, or logging off of social media. (I don’t know about you, but that all sounds pretty sweet to me.)

2. Find The Hidden Gems In Your Area

Next, you should totally grab your vacation buds and explore. You should find the hidden gems in your area, like the cute boutiques or the coves that are tucked into the cliffside. It’ll make the place you’re in feel like home, and your trip feel like it’s one-of-a-kind.

As always, go with your gut when you’re venturing outside of your accommodations, and bring a map or guidebook with you. If you can, chat with the locals. They may direct you to the places that no online message board would’ve ever told you about.

Also, download the best travel planning apps to your phone, so you can add the destinations you find to an itinerary and reference them later on. If you ever go back, you’ll want to remember where you’ve been.

3. Eat At The Local Restaurants And Cafés

When you’re out and about on a trip, sight-seeing and taking pictures of the buildings and fresh pineapple stands, you might run into a lot of touristy restaurants. Do yourself a favor on your vacation, and find the spots that are family-owned or off the beaten path. It’ll make your experience so much better. It’ll give you a taste of another part of the world, and transport into another time, place, and culture. It’ll check something off your bucket list that you didn’t even know was there in the first place, like "Eat alligator," or "Try escargot."

4. Go On A New Adventure Or Excursion

Last but not least, #vacay, no matter where in the world you go, is meant for making new memories and collecting new stories to tell. It’s about going on adventures and excursions, like zip-lining and cliff jumping, that have always been on your mind. That way, you can return and feel so refreshed and like you made the most of your time elsewhere.

So, before you take off, scope out the different things you can do in the location you’re traveling to. If the resort offers an afternoon of swimming with dolphins and teaching them tricks, consider signing up for it. If there are cool infinity pools nearby, look into how you can get to them.

Then, when you touch down in the land of palm trees or pasta, go. Have an adventure without worrying about what’s going on at home, and promise yourself you won’t miss out on anything.

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