It’s time to reclaim your summer vacation as an adult-here’s how

Is it just me, or has this summer been next-level busy for just about everyone? I’ve been a working adult for a few years now, but this is the first summer I’ve actually felt like R&R of any kind is basically out of the question. Pair that with the fact that I’ve buried myself in more freelance work than I can handle, moved twice, and landed a new 9-5 at roughly the same time, and you could say I’m in desperate need of a Freeze Pop.

Frankly, I don’t want to know if this was the year summer up and died, because I refuse to give up on it. I refuse to turn into the kind of grownup whose favorite mantra is “I’m too busy.” The kind of person who chains herself to her desk, even over lunch. (I tried, and all I got were a few crumbs in my keyboard and a serious ant problem, not kidding). Whatever deadlines or to-do’s you have on your plate, can we all just take a deep breath and suspend our belief that we’re too busy to enjoy a few moments of seasonal bliss? Because I am prepared to resuscitate the hell out of this summer with the remaining month we have left. So join me on a few childlike adventures—even if you only have an hour. Those emails will still be there when you get back, I promise.

1. Get down with “Arts and Crafts 2.0”

Coloring books for adults are totally having a moment, which thrills me because I can finally justify wanting to sit outside with markers and mindlessly scribble away. Get your paws on one of these luxe books like Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden or Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom and forget about your worries for as long as it takes you to color in a beautiful butterfly or forest scene. All you’ll need are some gel pens, colored pencils, and perhaps an adult beverage or two and you’ve got the perfect cathartic release to a long day. You won’t regret cozying up to a welcoming tree or parking yourself by the nearest body of water and letting your mind wander for a few hours as you give some nice creature pink polka dots. Adult reminder: the colors don’t have to make sense.

2. Go on a mini road trip—even if it’s just an hour away

To me, a road trip signifies so much of what summer is all about: enjoying the journey as much as the destination, eating horrible snacks, and laughing so hard you almost pee your pants on the way to the next road stop. Whatever it takes, get thee and thine besties to the nearest body of water or theme park for a little adventure. Pack the kind of snacks you only eat on road trips (my beloved cheese-flavored Combos are only consumed en-route) and prepare a playlist of only the most dance-worthy jams. Even if your schedules are packed, who says a weekend day trip isn’t in order?

3. Agree to a spontaneous summer fun pact

Part of what takes the magic out of summer as an adult is that there seems to be no room for spontaneous adventures, no lazy days spent imagining, biking, wandering, exploring. But it’s okay, because all it takes is 24 hours to change that. Block out just one day this summer that’s devoted to doing whatever comes your way. Don’t make any plans and see what happens; you may find yourself running through a sprinkler, stopping at every lemonade stand you see, or simply finding the time to relax and unwind on the couch. There’s no shame in your night cheese game.

4. Go makeup free (if you don’t already)

One of my favorite things about summer as a kid was feeling like a straight-up wilderness child whose only mission was exploring, even if that meant getting mud on my clothes or not washing my hair for a few days. Maybe I’m alone on this, but having to wear makeup and pencil skirts to work in the summer feels cruel and unusual; it all just melts off anyway and the clothes end up sticking to your sweat in a not-fun way. Let yourself off the hook and do away with foundation and restricting clothes for a few days. If your office has a strict dress code, then set aside the weekend. Tie your hair back, apply a little sunscreen, and voila! You get to be you again, feeling the sun on your face without foundation dripping off it as well.

5. Get in the game

Unabashed play not only makes me feel happier, but ultimately more creative. Wouldn’t it be great if we all just broke out the sidewalk chalk, Skip-its, hula hoops and frisbees and spent some time just playing? Doing things that don’t “accomplish” anything might feel a little unnatural the first few times you do it. It won’t check anything off your to-do list or add any skills to your resume. But it might just remind you of who you are and how it feels to experience joy in your body. And that seems like it’s worth a vacation day to me.

6. Host a throwback slumber party

Alright, I know what you’re thinking. We’re adults. We have bed times. We might not even have more than a humble futon in our apartment to host a night of sleepover debauchery. All valid points, but even if for a few hours, the feeling of having a sleepover—snacks on snacks on snacks, good movies, magazines—can be an awesome way to bond. Get all the treats you loved as a kid, like Dunkaroos, Fruit by the Foot, and everything else you vowed you would buy when you could make your own grocery decisions. Cue up My Girl, Spice World, or Now and Then, have Magic 8 balls and Tamagatchis on deck, and prepare to feel like a kid again.

7. Go on an outdoor adventure…sans technology

Remember when even the smallest moment could turn into a wonderful escape? Watching fuzzy caterpillars crawl across the pavement, inspecting blades of grass, blowing dandelion seeds into the air? At the end of our lives, we probably won’t remember the countless hours we spent at our computers, and while that time may be necessary to pay the bills, it doesn’t need to define us entirely. The wonder we felt as kids is always available to us, even if for a few minutes. This summer, I’ve tried to at least promise myself a 20 minute walk outside over lunch. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a minuscule amount, but when you’re working it can be easy to get sidetracked and miss your opportunity for a little fresh air. Take off on foot or bike by yourself or grab some friends who vow to not digitally capture what you see on your summer adventure, but really see it.

Okay, so I may never have the summers of my youth, but what I do have is something better: the chance to seize the day while still paying my rent. Because the truth is, while wishing you were a different age won’t do you any good, remembering the little things that brought you joy can be a refreshing way to reclaim some of that summer magic—and a little piece of yourself while you’re at it.


101 things to do to make this the best summer ever

(Image via Paramount Pictures)

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