How to Have More Fun on Vacations, Camps, and Other Outings
With the weather so beautiful this summer, camps and vacations have been a strong desire for many- myself included. However, it has been important for me to know my own limits, even while away from daily life.
A few weeks ago, I attended a camp designed for teenagers living with Multiple Sclerosis. This was by far one of the best camp experiences I have ever had. The leaders knew exactly what we needed and when we needed it. For example, our activities throughout the week were either in the air conditioning or in the water, and heat was never an issue. Also, 15-30 minutes was scheduled between each camp activity to allow us to rest. Finally, we had time allowing us to take a nap if we so chose. At no point in the week did I have to worry about pushing myself too far. The pace of the activities was perfect - slow enough to not exhaust the campers, but fast enough that we didn’t get bored.
Not long after that event designed for those with MS, I attended a leadership camp designed for a different type of youth group - youth in the mainstream with no noted health issues. The difference between these camps was astonishing! We woke up at 7am and were not allowed to go to sleep until 11pm. There was NO time to rest at all. The longest break available to us for the first day was approximately three minutes. Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and fatigued. Unfortunately, I had to make the decision to skip a few of the activities throughout the day to ensure enjoyment of the entire camp experience.
Just as with my daily life, when I am away from home for vacations or camps, I need to pace myself. I have to understand my own limits to be sure to enjoy myself. For example, when I travel to Florida, or any other hot location, I try not to spend too much time in the heat. Instead, I spend time in the air conditioning, the water, or I find a way to stay cool as to not overheat. I also need to be sure to allow for time to rest. I realize that if I am not able to fully enjoy myself without my symptoms strengthening, I am not truly on vacation.
Having lived in Minnesota my whole life, I tend to enjoy the cooler climates anyway (although we can reach to 100+ degrees Fahrenheit at times)! My family takes many of our vacations during the cooler times of the year - fall, spring, and occasionally winter. By choosing to travel in the cooler months of the year, this opens many options for vacation activities - without worrying about the heat.
The northern shore of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota offers a great cool climate for summer hiking or agate hunting along the lake. Camping in the spring and fall offers cooler temperatures for sleeping and quieter campgrounds as most other campers prefer balmy summer evenings. We love the campfires in the fall - cool crisp air and snuggly sweatshirts beat heat and mosquitos in my book!
My family likes to travel by car, and this allows us to set our own schedule a little easier. If things get hot or if we get fatigued, our car has air conditioning, and I usually have a pillow and blanket along to catch a nap if I need it. We keep a cooler filled with cool drinks and cool treats. In addition to our own car, we make sure we have our own accommodations - even when visiting family and friends. We seldom stay in others’ homes anymore as it is so much easier to have our own space when we need it. This also is less of an imposition on the hosts - they don’t feel like they need to worry about accommodations for us.
I love to travel and explore. I love to visit places and people. There are so many wonderful things to see in the world and I have learned that I don’t need to see them all in one vacation. By setting a pace that allows for rest, as well as learning about the area, I really have fun!