It’s March, and you all deserve a vacation! At least you do if you live in my part of the country where the winters seem like an interminable movie in gray and white. It’s like God turns off the color, scent, and sound of life for 6 months.


But we’re a hardy people and we will persevere to Spring which arrives at the end of May and lasts 2 days.

Meanwhile, maybe you’re planning a little escape to tide you over.

If you live by a school calendar you may be preparing for Spring Break.

If you don’t, you still may be planning a warm getaway.


So this post is about resources for vacation (or even “staycation”) refreshment.

First, here are three good books on resting well.


My favorite is The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. He writes…

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest we miss the rest of God: the rest He invites us to enter more fully so that we might know Him more deeply…Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness…both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart…

Sabbath imparts the rest of God – actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God – the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness…”

When we don’t Sabbath we’re in danger of letting ourselves be “consumed by the things that feed the ego but starve the soul.” 

Second, I know if you’re traveling with kids it changes the whole deal, but still…

Consider what your Spiritual Pathway is – in what environments or experiences do you most sense God’s delight and nurture of your soul?

If you haven’t explored this, take a look at John Ortberg’s book God is Closer than You Think (ch.7) or take an inventory here, but here are the 7 pathways they identify:

1.  Intellectual (through books),

2.  Worship

3.  Relational

4.  Serving

5.  Contemplation

6.  Activism

7.  Creation

How can you lean into your spiritual pathway and refresh your soul?

Next, prepare your heart…

Travel is stretching (can I get an “Amen!” or a “Duh!”?) It’s a chance for spiritual formation. It often involves lack of control, patience and grace. Perhaps choosing a specific travel prayer or verse might be helpful.  Here’s a variation on the Welcoming prayer.

Holy Spirit, welcome

I let go of my need for power and control


I let go of my need to change any person, situation, emotion


Prince of Peace, welcome.

In our family, we have a practice. Whenever anything goes wrong we say “It’s better this way!” and then we proceed to name the blessings we can think of as a result of the annoyance. (That was particularly interesting when John booked our tickets to the wrong airport and we had to rent a car and drive through the night after landing to get to our destination.)

Lastly, let’s get practical…

I’m sure many readers of this blog are seasoned travelers and either will have great ideas to add, or varying opinions on what I’ll share. For me, I’m blessed to have the opportunity to travel a lot. Learning to do it efficiently, healthily and with joy is an on-going adventure. Like with all of life, I’m a work in progress.

One of my strict policies is: never bring more than a carry-on suitcase (and tote) on flights. This is a very hard rule to stick to, and certainly there are reasons (like Christmas trips when you’re bringing presents, or if you have kids) to stray from this policy, but four reasons I do this are:

  1. There’s no chance of losing luggage in transfers. (John once had to live on borrowed underwear for a week in Africa)
  2. You don’t have to wait at a baggage carousel to pick it up.
  3. It’s easier to manage between cabs/buses/hotels.
  4. It forces you to think strategically – stick to versatile stuff, basic color scheme etc.

I tell John all the time, “It is HARD being a woman!!” 🙂 Here are all the shoes I WANTED to pack on our trip to Israel. First world problems, right?


In a carry-on? I don’t think so!

Here’s my favorite packing post…

How to Pack Without Wrinkles

And few additional thoughts

What to bring –

  • If you’re not comfortable (physically or emotionally) wearing something (shoes, a jacket, a top) at home, you won’t be comfortable wearing it on a trip. Don’t pack it. Think of the clothes that you gravitate to.
  • Large scarfs or pashminas are indispensable. Put one in your carry-on. They can change the look of an outfit, add warmth, or be rolled up and used as a pillow.
  • This may just be me, but no matter what the event (think conference) or weather (hot), I have always been sorry if I didn’t bring two things: a pair of jeans and a pair of running shoes.

I love plastic bags!

  • Clear plastic bags for underwear and shoes to keep them separate and findable
  • Another plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • Another baggie for charging cords.

Cosmetics and toiletries –

  • Keep a cosmetic bag or dopp kit stocked with a second set of everything you use so you don’t have to pack every time you travel.
  • I have TSA Pre, so I don’t usually have to show toiletries, but I use a bag that has a clear plastic snap on compartment so you don’t have to put your stuff in a baggie. I always pack it in my tote or in the outside pocket of my carryon.FullSizeRender-72

For international travel...

  • Only drink water. Your system gets messed up enough without adding caffeine or alcohol to the equation.
  • The day you’re leaving, get outside early and get in a run, a walk, or a bike ride. You’ll be thankful for the fresh air and exercise on that 15 hour flight to Bangkok.
  • Invest the time to get a Global Entry card. It makes all the difference in getting through customs quickly when you come back to the U.S.!
  • Make two photo copies of your passport and put one in your suitcase and give one to someone else traveling with you. If yours gets lost or stolen, at least you’ll have copies.

If you don’t travel a ton, these 2 things will endear you to other travelers…

  • Going through TSA, be ready! If you don’t have Pre, know what you need to take off or get out and do it.
  • As soon as your luggage comes through the scanner, grab it and move forward and away from the conveyor belt before you pull yourself together and redress or whatever, so you don’t cause a back-up for other travelers.

And if you are a seasoned traveler with slow, confused travelers ahead of you in line, go back to the Welcoming Prayer above 🙂

Those are just a few thoughts. I’m sure many of you will have ideas to add! Have at it in the comments!