The no-stress vacation: How it's done

Mar 5, 2012, 6 a.m.

Vacations, whether close to home or to exotic locales, should be exciting, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable. Unfortunately, many relaxing vacations morph into stressful periods, devoid of the intended fun. However, worry-free vacations actually do exist. Here's how you, too, can enjoy no-stress vacations.

Theme vacation packages can be a wonderful solution. If you've always wanted to ride off into the sunset, like the cowboys of American lore, dude ranches may be perfect worry-free vacations--assuming neither you nor your horse are spooked by riding. You can find all-inclusive deals--with lodging, food, supplies and guides-- at numerous dude ranches throughout the western U.S.

Sports-themed vacations are another excellent option. Almost every Major League baseball team has a fantasy camp or offers for worry-free vacations, including tickets for home and away games for your favorite team. In the same vein, there are prepackaged vacations to U.S. national parks and other famous landmarks.

Whether you want activity-filled or relaxing vacations, planning properly and committing to time off will help you enjoy a stress-free holiday. If you're still working, the challenges increase. To enjoy worry-free vacations, you must allocate the time to relax and commit to actually take the trip. This tip may seem obvious, but if you wait for the "perfect time" to get away, you'll probably never take that vacation you sorely need.

Commit to leaving your work behind. It doesn't matter how "important' you are--the business will survive without you for a short period. Similarly, for an easygoing departure or arrival, add one or more "buffer" days to ensure the first and/or last day of your vacation is stress-free. This plan allows you to pack and organize your home before you leave and enjoy a relaxing homecoming before you resume your professional or retired day-to-day responsibilities.

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