Enjoy Vacations Without Regret!
WHEN asked how she enjoyed her visit to a noted vacation spot, an American now living in Europe replied: “It must have been beautiful before the people came.” Have you ever shared her feelings? Hotels and discos standing shoulder to shoulder, a polluted, overcrowded beach, and blasting radios are not everyone’s idea of a pleasant vacation spot.
Sad to say, vacations do not always live up to our expectations. Instead of giving us a second wind, they leave us gasping for breath; instead of putting us back on our feet, they sometimes put us to bed. Thus, the question is appropriate, How can we enjoy vacations without regret?
Like spices in our food, vacations achieve best results when used sparingly. Although the life of the proverbial jet-setter may appear inviting, it lacks balance and does not make for true happiness.
Especially in connection with vacations, balance in spending money is vital. Plan carefully before you go, and try to stay within your budget. Avoid falling for special offers made by travel agents who encourage you to “enjoy now, pay later.”
Also, do not become so obsessed with potential dangers that the spontaneity and carefree spirit that make vacations so appealing are squelched. In addition, proper balance includes recognizing the greatest danger that could cause us to look back on our vacation with regret. It has nothing to do with accidents, sickness, or crime but, rather, with personal relationships.
Maintaining Good Relationships
Vacations with family or friends can strengthen bonds of love. On the other hand, vacations can cause cracks in a relationship, which may be hard to repair later. Journalist Lance Morrow said: “The real danger of the vacation lies in its capacity to compress all family conflicts into an exquisitely focused drama. . . . People in their normal working lives have jobs, roles, friends and routines to diffuse and absorb emotions. In the theater of a summer house, family issues 20 years buried are liable to come up thrashing like lobsters.”
So before you go on a vacation, consciously resolve to make it a pleasant experience. Remember that interests differ. Children may be seeking adventure, parents probably relaxation. Be willing to forgo personal preferences of what to do and where to go. If advisable and practical, agree to allow each person periodically to pursue what is of particular interest to him. Learn to exercise the qualities of God’s spirit on a daily basis throughout the year, and it should not be unduly difficult to continue doing so during your vacation.—Galatians 5:22, 23.
While maintaining a good relationship with family and friends is important, our relationship with God is even more important. On vacations we often meet people who do not share our Christian view of God and his requirements. Associating closely with them—perhaps even frequenting places of questionable entertainment—can lead to regrettable consequences. Remember that the Bible warns: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
When on vacation, if you ever detect within yourself a desire to escape from Christian standards and practices, wisely face up to such weakness and ask for divine help to combat that desire!
What Is Being Promoted?
People who do not mold their lives according to Christian principles may feel that while on vacation anything goes. In some European countries, sex tourism is big business, and some travel agencies even promote it. The European writes that ‘the unsavory things European men do in certain Asian resort cities have long been common knowledge.’ Referring to one Asian country, the German magazine Der Spiegel estimated that up to 70 percent of all male visitors are “sex tourists.”
Women tourists are now following the lead of their male counterparts. A German charter airline that specializes in Caribbean flights estimates that 30 percent of its female passengers go there on vacation for the express purpose of illicit sex. The European quoted a German journalist as saying: “They see it as an easy and uncomplicated way of having fun—an exotic game.”
True Christians, however, do not view illicit sex as an acceptable way of having fun. It violates Christian principles and is fraught with dangers. Although the dangers are generally recognized, many people simply try to avoid the consequences rather than reject the practice. Typical is an advertisement seen in German newspapers showing an umbrella and two empty beach chairs. The caption reads: “Have a safe trip, and return without AIDS.”
A repulsive by-product of sex tourism is the sexual abuse of children. Significantly, in 1993 the German government passed a law making Germans liable for punishment when found guilty of having sex with minors—even while on vacation in foreign countries. Up until now, however, positive results have been minimal. Child prostitution has been—and remains—a running sore on the face of human society.
Make Vacation a Rewarding Time
Reading, studying the Bible, and engaging in the Christian ministry are pleasant, rewarding activities for true Christians. But many struggle to find sufficient time to do these things to the extent they would like. What better time could there be to catch up than when a person is on vacation, away from severe restrictions imposed by the clock?
True, a busy, satisfying vacation may not allow you to pursue Christian interests to the extent you normally do. But why not try to set aside at least some time for constructive spiritual activity? This will still leave time for relaxation. Indeed, some even take advantage of the added time available during vacations to expand their ministry. As Jesus said, “happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—Matthew 5:3.
Soon you too may be going on vacation. If so, be sure to enjoy it! Do not be overly uneasy about potential dangers, but do take proper precautions. Keep in mind suggestions like those found in the box on this page. Afterward, return refreshed, rested, and eager to get on with the activities of life that are of greatest importance. All too soon, the vacation is over, but some of its treasured memories may linger forever. How precious—vacations enjoyed without regret!
[Box on page 10]
A Few Vacation Tips
1. Arrange for someone to watch over things back home.
2. Stay away from areas that are commonly viewed as dangerous.
3. Be alert to pickpockets, keep money in a safe place on your person, and leave excess money in a secure place where you are staying.
4. Be cautious of strangers who offer unsolicited help.
1. If driving, be alert, and take frequent breaks.
2. When staying in hotels or flying, take careful note of provisions for emergencies.
3. Allow time after arrival to adjust physically before undertaking strenuous activities.
4. Have proper clothing, shoes, and equipment for your activities.
1. Ask your doctor for advice about the need for possible vaccinations or medication.
2. Take along a traveling medicine kit with necessary medication.
3. Get sufficient rest, and be careful of what you eat and drink.
4. Keep on your body at all times necessary documentation about your medical needs or wishes.
Keep Relationships Happy
1. Show love and consideration for those with you.
2. Keep standards for personal association high.
3. Do not allow other vacationers to lead you into actions you consider questionable.
4. Set aside some time to fill spiritual needs.
[Pictures on page 9]
Select wholesome activities when on vacation