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5 Ways to Upgrade Your Vacation

Have An Exit Plan
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Yes, you can take time off work without worrying about what kind of mess will land on your desk during your absence. The secret is to ask your boss and coworkers for help setting priorities befor you leave, and managing your workload while you’re away. Rest assured, such requests will not reflect badly on your abilities—in fact, a Harvard Business School study found that seeking help makes you appear more competent to colleagues, not less.

Log On Less Often
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A phone-free, zero-screen, email-less “digital detox” during vacation isn’t practical for most people. That said, if you—like a third of all Americans—find that online check-ins make it more difficult to stop thinking about work when you’re out of the office, consider setting a limit for yourself. Try designating an hour a day for job-related tech usage. You can also take a break from your usual e-habits and focus on using electronics in ways that bring you closer to your family: Ask your son to finally show you how to play Minecraft, for example, or load a few new books on your tablet to read during story time.

Looking for destination worth ditching the technology for? Check out Spa Escapes: 10 Great Hotels for A Little R & R.

Leave Baggage Behind
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You didn’t travel all the way across the country just to argue with your brother about his nutty politics. When you’re planning your trip, send a group email (or delegate your most diplomatic family member) to ask that everyone agree to avoid temper-tempting subjects (e.g., the front-page hot topic du jour, the fact that you still haven’t delivered a grandbaby). “Don’t frame it as something your relatives are doing wrong, or they might get defensive,” suggests Akin. Instead, present it as a group effort: “Tell them, ‘In order for everyone to have a great visit, let’s avoid these things.’”

Relax And Recline
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Splurging on a day pass to your airline’s lounge can take the frazzle out of holiday travel. And even if you can’t quite justify the expense, you can calm your nerves in a hectic terminal simply by finding a seat: Studies show sitting down, or leaning back if you’re already seated, can help calm feelings of anxiety or anger, says W. Robert Nay, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and author of The Anger Management Workbook.

Break Tradition
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Seeing The Nutcracker, attending the annual latke party, visiting Grandma for Christmas Eve…traditions make the holidays feel special. But adding a new outing into the mix this year may make you and your guy feel closer, a recent study found. Couples who try new activities feel more in love than those who stick to the “same old” on date nights, according to researchers at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. So go ahead and book that heli-skiing weekend you’ve both been dreaming about—or just take a day trip to a nearby city—and watch the sparks fly. (Planning ahead? Book one of these 5 Amazing Fit Trips to Take This Winter.)

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