What an after-vacation dip can tell you

Many of us don’t like it when our vacations are about to be over. During a holiday, you can enjoy a free life without stress. You can forget about time and surround yourself with the environment that suits you best. But when this time comes to an end, and you start having nightmares about having to go back home, you might be up for more than just an after-vacation dip .

An after-vacation dip is normal

About 60% of people who return from their holidays have trouble getting back to everyday life. Especially on Sunday evening, before work starts again, many of us feel a bit down. And this is not unusual. During our vacations, we are in charge of our own time. We can sleep longer, take an afternoon nap, eat whenever we want to, and most importantly, we are free of stress.

Besides, during a vacation, we relax, meet new people, discover unique places, and often move more than we do during our days behind a desk. All these things increase our endorphins. Endorphin is a hormone that makes us feel happy. However, our level of these endorphins drops when we return to our usual environment and work. As a result, we feel down. The post-holiday blues. It can take up to seven or ten days before we are adjusted again to the lower levels of endorphins!

Try to enjoy your home and friends

Although your hormones naturally make you feel a bit down after returning from vacation, most of us can enjoy when being home. Sleeping in your own bed or binge-watching your favorite series might be things you missed during your holiday. Meeting your friends and sharing your travel experience with them will also help you to get through your post-holiday blues.

However, when you feel unable to enjoy these things, and your dip seems to continue for weeks, you might have to change something in your life. Although feeling a bit low is normal, it should never take too long or influence your everyday life and emotions.

Reflect after your vacation

When you struggle with a severe after-vacation dip, it might be time to reflect on your life. Struggling to get back to normal might show that your normal simply doesn’t suit you anymore.

Maybe you can’t sleep enough following your busy schedule? Or do you miss physical exercise or the connection with nature? Think about what made you feel happy during your vacation and what you miss the most now that you’re back. Slowly try to include parts of these elements in your life.

My return

When I returned from my most recent trip to Greece, I knew I was ready for a change in my life. Until now, I have always been someone with a high value for my own home. My own bed, my living room, my plants, and my bunny. These have always been reasons for me to get back home.

This time, however, when I opened my front door, I only felt strange. My house was too big, the stuff I own meaningless, and the location too crowded and concrete. All I need is the sea and the things that fit in my suitcase, not a whole apartment in the middle of a city!

I feel strange seeing the traffic around, and even stranger being a part of it when I have to rush to work. I feel unable to just hop back into my busy life, which feels so empty today. And with the people here, it seems impossible to connect again.

Mostly, I feel like a stranger. A stranger in my own country and in my own life. Knowing that I once did fit in here, shows me that I have changed, and it is now time for my life to change with me. The only thing that gets me through my days, is writing this blog and planning my next holiday. But this is not enough to keep me happy.

Don’t live to escape

Planning the next holiday is something many people say is helpful to get over the after-holiday blues. And although this might help with the average dip, I don’t believe this always solves the issue. If it feels like you’re living your life, counting down the days till your next escape, you should change something about your life instead. You shouldn’t have to wait to live until you’re out of your real life!

I recently met a 50-year-old woman with a love for Greece as big as mine. Thirty years ago, after a long holiday in Ouranoupolis, she returned feeling like her life in the Netherlands didn’t fit her anymore. She decided she wanted to move to Greece. 

But first, her husband didn’t want to come, then the kids came, and her mother needed care. When she divorced the man that kept her here, she couldn’t take her girls with her, so she stayed. And later, new boyfriends didn’t want to come either.

This woman planned regular holidays in Greece for thirty years and lived only during these short periods. Every time she returned, she felt depressed for months. Today, she still says she will soon move and finally be happy. But what she regrets the most is not moving thirty years ago.

Change is difficult

Talking with this woman showed me two things. One is how important it is to listen to our after-vacation dip. But secondly, she shows me how difficult it is to listen to ourselves, even after years of regret. Humans are creatures of habit and routine. We’re afraid of change, even when we know a transformation is best for us.

This is why girls abused by their fathers tend to choose an abusive partner. Or why people with low self-esteem seek situations in which they can feel less than others. But, it is also the thing that makes us believe we have to work hard, have busy schedules, or stay in a relationship that prevents us from following our dreams. Change is difficult simply because it is unknown to us.

From sleeping more to a career change to moving out of the city or an emigration. They are all difficult changes. However, if you stick to the old out of fear, it is time to be brave and move to the new. Step by step.

Start small

When you feel unhappy with your life, it is easy to say, “I have to change my whole life, but I don’t know where to start.” No one can change their whole life at once, and neither should we try to. Like the Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tze said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” 

Do you want to exercise more?
Start with doing five squats before you sit down on the toilet.
Live closer to nature?
Buy plants, or leave the city once a month.
Do you want to explore a new culture?
Start reading or cook recipes from the country you love.
A career change?
Invest an hour a week in learning a new skill.

Start small! 

Keep walking

The smaller the step, the easier it is to actually make it. When you feel the positive result of a small change, it will be easier to take the next step and the one after that until you slowly come closer to your bigger goal.

I have been taking small steps for over two years. I work less, sleep more, spend more time with friends, visit the beach more often, and go on holidays more regularly. With each step, I come closer to a life that suits me. But more importantly, I learned to reflect and act according to that continuously. This lesson is more valuable than the actual change or big life goal I set for myself.

Today I say I want to live and work in Greece to be happy. However, this goal is not the one I started with two years ago and might not be the one that results in happiness two years from now. I change through my experiences and with these experiences my goal in life changes. True happiness is not about reaching anything in life. It is about listening to what is inside you and being true to whatever you hear. And an after-vacation dip is the perfect moment to start listening!

Pool or beach? Where to go swimming in Greece?

Greece is full of hotels and apartments for tourists. Even the tiniest village in a good location has many accommodations to offer. In the mountains, on the coast, or in an idyllic traditional whitewashed house. Luxury, budget, or all-inclusive. With a swimming pool or without. Too much to choose from, and when you travel to Greece for the first time, you might not know what to expect. Do you need a swimming pool in Greece? Or is a sweet-water swim just a waste of money?

My experience

The first time I went to Greece, I paid extra for a swimming pool whenever I had the option. I used to believe that although the beaches of Greece might offer refreshments, a good swim requires an artificial pool. However, I barely used any of them. It turns out that the Greek sea is often like a swimming pool, but better. With clear, blue calm water at a pleasant temperature.

Over the years, I started to understand when it is worth paying for accommodation with a sweet water bath and when it is simply not. This summer, with just one night at a hotel with a pool, I was able to swim pleasantly on 100% of my 45 days in Greece.

When can you swim in the Greek sea?

The Greek seas, unfortunately, are not always comfortable to swim in. Water temperatures differ per region and even per beach. But in general, temperatures in Greece allow for swimming from half May till October.

When you visit Greece outside of this period, and you want to swim, a heated pool is what you’re looking for. But during the warmer months, the temperature of the seawater might be even more pleasant than water in an artificial pool. Booking accommodation with a pool is often just a waste of money in summer. Especially when you, either way, want to stay at the coast.

Why stay around the coast?

During summer, it is better to choose accommodation close to the sea. Especially when you are used to a colder climate. Temperatures in Greece are generally high but always lower at the coast. Inland there is less wind and more humidity. The temperature can be around 5 degrees Celcius higher compared to the shore. Besides, after a hot day, the evenings at the beach cool down much quicker after sunset.

The Greek sea is not an ocean

Since it is preferable to stay in the coastal regions of Greece in summer, you will always be close to the sea. When a refreshing jump at a free beach is near, a pool becomes completely unnecessary.

You might fear cold water, rough waves, and sea creatures, but in Greece a bad sea day is rare. The sea around Greece is the Mediterranean. This sea is almost fully enclosed by land. Because of this, the tides are minimal, and waves simply do not have enough space to become big. 

Besides, many of the Greek beaches are located in bays, either small or big. Here, land encloses an even smaller body of water, protecting it against wind and currents. This again results in fewer waves and, in general, very calm waters.

As a result, the Greek sea, with very few exceptions, is like a swimming pool. This is a saying many Greeks use, but one that is actually true. A natural swimming pool without waves and currents. Filled with clear and clean turquoise water.

Temperature-wise, the Greek sea is similar to the swimming pools in Greece. With an average of 250 days of sunshine, the Greeks often heat their warm water with sunlight. Pools, as well as the sea, are heated in the same way. The only difference is the amount of water that is heated. The Greek sun is strong enough to increase the seawater temperature to an average of 26 degrees, the perfect temperature for swimming. A benefit is that seawater cools down much slower than pool water at night because of the size, making a night or morning swim more pleasant at sea.

Benefits of the sea

  • Good for your skin. 
    Going for a refreshing jump into the sea is proven to be good for your skin. Salt opens your pores and works as a natural scrub. But there are other minerals too. Magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Salt water works antibacterial and may even help with skin conditions such as eczema. Besides, there are no added chemicals in seawater. Chlorine used in pools might harm your skin.
  • More relaxing. 
    Swimming pools always seem to amplify the noise around. Screaming children and splashing water, there is no way to avoid them. At the beach, however, you do not hear these noises. Sand filters the sound around, and often the only thing you hear is the crashing of the waves. Besides, a beach offers more space and is less packed. You can read your book in peace or just enjoy the sound of the sea. 
  • Sustainable. 
    A swimming pool consumes about 2,000 and 3,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year without considering heating. This is more than double the amount a single person uses at home in a year! The sea, on the other hand, requires no energy. So if you want a sustainable refreshment, the beach is where you want to go.
  • Fewer insects. 
    Without the use of any chemicals, the beach is a natural insect repeller. The lack of flowering plants at the beach makes this an uninteresting place for insects. 
  • Unique. 
    In Greece, there are sandy beaches, pebble stone beaches, and marble beaches. There are beaches surrounded by red or white cliffs, forests, or caves. And even the sea water seems different in all of them. Every beach is unique because of the nature that surrounds it, and often this nature is incredibly beautiful!

Children

As a parent, you might want to stay at a place with a pool. This might feel safer for your children. In a smaller environment, they are easier to watch while you don’t have to fear deep seas and waves. However, in this case, I would advise you to choose a children-friendly beach instead.

There are many areas in Greece where the sea is very shallow. Your child has to walk 100 meters into the water before he, or she, can not stand anymore. You will have plenty of time to respond before something goes wrong. Also good to know is that many of the popular beaches have a lifeguard during most of the day for extra safety.

Many of the more popular beaches in Greece provide an in-sea playground for children. With waterslides, trampolines, and obstacle courses. These beaches are the perfect place to amuse both young and older children.

Besides, the sand on a beach is a sound absorber. You don’t have to listen to other children playing around. Instead, you can read your book in peace and enjoy the nature around you.

Children-friendly beach in Elafonisos

Here is a list of family-friendly beaches around Greece, but there are many more, all around the country.

When do you want a swimming pool?

The sea in Greece makes an artificial pool a waste of both energy and money. However, there are a few cases in which you might want to consider sweet water swimming in Greece. 

  • Staying inland in summer. When you plan on staying inland during the summer months, a pool is a good option. When the beach is far away and temperatures reach 40 degrees (100 F), you want a closeby refreshment. Inland temperatures can feel unbearable due to a lack of wind and higher humidity. 
  • Between October and May. During these months, you should not expect to swim pleasantly in the Greek seawater. However, check if the accommodation’s pool is actively heated since many Greeks use the sun’s heat to increase the temperature of the water.
  • If your children beg for a pool. Younger children do not really care about sustainability, the beauty of nature, or the health of their skin. When they keep requesting a pool I guess you just have to give in. However, use the holiday to make them experience all the fun the sea has to offer. Next year they will beg for the beach!
Do you agree that swimming in the sea in Greece is better than a pool? Or do you believe the opposite? Let us know in the comments below!

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Happiness on vacation. Don’t expect perfection

While planning a holiday, we often obsess over finding the perfect destination. The highest mountain, the bluest sea, or the most beautiful sunset is what we all aim for. However, having high hopes and great expectations for the perfect holiday might end in disappointment. Why don’t we find happiness on our vacation? Maybe we should stop planning our holidays as strictly as we are used to.

Unexpected experience

During my recent travels through Peleponnese, I experienced the benefit of traveling without a plan. I did have a list of famous places I wanted to visit and a route that would take me there. In between, however, I wanted to see as much as possible of everything I came across on on the road. The things I did not know existed before I was there. And it was at these places that I felt most grateful.

I planned to visit Epidavros. Epidavros was a small city in ancient Greece and had the most well-preserved theatre. The site is on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and is a famous tourist attraction. A must-see. And after visiting, I can say it is a truly impressive ancient site in Greece.

Afterward, I found an old sign pointing me in the direction of “The sunken city of Epidavros.” A not-well-known and not at all popular site. However, following the signs, I ended up at a deserted beach, and just off-shore, I found the ruins of an ancient villa, inhabited by fish and sea-urchins. Now, that’s an experience!

Stop planning and chasing

We all live a busy life with full agendas. Work, exercise, kids, and social gatherings. We live according to a schedule, always busy with too many things, rushing from one place to the next. Holidays are scarce, and often we want to get the most out of them.

I believe many people are afraid of not fully utilizing their precious time off or expensive airplane tickets. What if I fly from the USA to Greece and only visit one island? This is why many of us make the mistake of taking a schedule with us on our holidays.

I met someone who had just ten days of vacation in Greece but wanted to see everything during these days. He flew to Athens, visited Peleponnese, and got a plane to Rhodes. Trying to visit many famous sites, he forgot to plan time for his holiday and returned feeling both tired and disappointed. He did not experience Greece, nor did he find happiness. He did not allow himself to do so.

By allowing yourself time to relax and explore whatever you find on your way, a holiday can get way more exciting and rewarding. You don’t need the plan to visit the fanciest places or chase the most Instagram-able pictures. Let go. That’s what a holiday should be. 

Lower your expectations

Going somewhere for a holiday believing this place will be amazing, will probably result in at least a bit of disappointment. Most of the information we find online is edited or based on perfect circumstances. However, chances are small that you will experience this ideal image. Human happiness is often a result of us exceeding our expectations. But when your goal is a flawless holiday, it will be extremely difficult to surpass your predictions. 

Besides the location, I believe we also expect too much of our holiday. Divorce rates, for example, increase significantly after summer vacations. A big part of the year we are ok with the problems we encounter in our everyday life, telling ourselves that things will get better during our holiday. This way, we put so much pressure on our vacation that you can be almost certain of disappointment, and in the worst case, a divorce when returning home.

But when you allow yourself to lower your expectations, true happiness can be found on even the simplest vacation. I see this not only in myself but also in the people around me. Today, I am in the North of Greece, in Xanthi, a location that does not really allow for high expectations, nor does it have great weather at the moment. However, the tourists I see right now in front of me, are dancing on the beach. Celebrating their time together and being free. 

I rarely see tourists as happy in more famous locations in Greece. And I believe that when they made the choice to visit a less-known and less perfect place, they opened themselves up for happiness during their vacation.

Change your purpose

I won’t say that everyone should stop visiting the more popular islands and sites in Greece to have a happy holiday. You can go island hopping or visit the turquoise waters in Elafonisi. You can go to Santorini to watch the perfect sunset. But don’t let these small things be the main purpose of your holiday.

Leave your home and country behind simply to get away from them. I believe the best vacation goal is to get away from your scheduled life and instead just live in the moment. One, you will succeed at this goal almost always. But more importantly, with this goal, you will have countless unexpected experiences and little moments of happiness throughout your vacation.

Tips:

Book a hotel you know nothing about

Don’t check the location or the amenities before going. Instead, set a budget and book whatever pops up first. I did this with 8 out of 10 of the previous hotels I have stayed in, and all of them surprised me in some way. 

When you search for a hotel on a budget, you can try to find the best one, but there will always be something wrong. You read about it and expect it to be good. But if you don’t want to pay more than 25-30 euros a night, I can promise you it will never be good, no matter how much you research.

By just booking the first available hotel, you skip the mental step in which you create expectations. You can say it was cheap and will probably look cheap. If you arrive and find the perfect mattress, great shower, or sea view, the room is exceeding your expectations. Which means happiness.

Be curious

Greece has many famous sites, but even more road signs pointing you towards the least visited touristic locations. Try following one of them and see where it leads you! Often when the attraction itself is not very interesting, you might come across a hidden tavern, idyllic church, or undiscovered beach. 

Food is also a perfect topic for curiosity in Greece. Everyone knows feta, gyros, and mousaka, but there is so much more. Every region in Greece has its own local cheese, for example. And the recipe of mousaka changes throughout Greece. Ask taverns what their seasonal specialty is instead of just ordering from the menu. Try new food and local products.

Enjoy the road

In Greece, it is a shame to just travel from one point to another without enjoying what is in between. Going off the highway and instead choosing the national roads, you will pass by traditional villages, old churches, mountains, and small beaches. You will see real Greece, the things that make this country special. So don’t move around awaiting your next destination. Enjoy the journey, and be open to new experiences and opportunities along the road.

Talk

No one knows better how to enjoy an area than people who have lived there for years. Be open to tips from locals, and not just the hotel owners. Especially in non-touristic places, the Greeks are open to having conversations. Often they have interesting things to say about the region they live in and know the hidden gems around. Follow their advice and experience happiness during your vacation!