3 Fun Things to do Before Any Vacation

It’s exciting, isn’t it? Slowly putting together your vacation plan – after all, you’ve only got a couple weeks to enjoy your time off, and with vacation time being so precious you plan it well so that you get the most of it.

However, after all that planning is done and your itinerary is squared away, it’s nice to take it easy and just enjoy the countdown to your trip. Here’s a few fun things to do before your coming vacation:

 1) Watch a Movie

Before my lovely girlfriend Becki and I vacationed in Puerto Rico, we decided to watch The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp. We didn’t know too much about it before going into it, and it was a little more dark and crazy than expected. Maybe we should have watched Pirates of the Caribbean instead. Hindsight… right?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun to watch Anthony Bourdain, Rick Steves or Samantha Brown wax poetic about your particular vacation destination, but there is something more outlandishly enjoyable about a Hollywood Blockbuster.

Watching a movie about your destination can be a lot of fun before heading out there. You probably won’t find cursed pirate treasure, and probably (maybe) won’t drink 172 miniature bottles of rum while in Puerto Rico, but it’s still fun to imagine.


2) Make a Signature Dish

Making a local dish is a fun thing to do before vacation

Whether it’s callaloo soup before Trinidad & Tobago, sushi and sashimi before your vacation to Japan, or smoked Arctic Puffin before you wing your way to Iceland, making a signature dish of the place your visiting is a great way to dive into a culture.

We’re going to make some mofongo before heading to Puerto Rico. It will be fun to try to make it based on a recipe we find online and compare it to what we get when we’re there.

The food of a place really speaks volumes towards its culture. There are few things in life both as universal and as personal as food – from the ingredients and what they say about the climate, plants and animals of a destination to small regional differences and the pride and competition that often comes along with them.

Trying to make a signature dish, and moreover trying local foods and eating what the locals eat helps to see a place more like the locals than anything else I know of.

3) Make a Signature Drink

Similar to the food, local drinks often say a lot about a place, and often even more about its history. From the rum runners during America’s Prohibition days to the cuba libre created at the end of the Spanish-American War or why India Pale Ale has so much more hops added to it, an alcoholic drink can say a lot about a place.

However, as far as I can tell, Puerto Rico’s pina colada doesn’t say much about it other than they have plenty of coconuts and pineapples on the island – oh, and that they’re a HUGE rum maker. The recipe for a pina colada is really pretty simple – for a single serving (scale appropriately):

  • 3 oz light rum
  • 2 tbsp cream of coconut (not the same as coconut milk – almost the same, but it’s extra thick)
  • 2 tbsp crushed pineapple

Put into a blender with 2 cups of ice and blend on high for only 10 seconds or so. Boom! Instant haze-inducing, creamy coconut concoction that is perfectly refreshing on a hot summer night.

All Together Now

The last step is of course to combine them all into one fun-filled night. If you want, you can even get crazy and crank the heat, put on the clothes you’re going to wear while you’re on vacation, kick-back, and enjoy. Unless of course you’re going someplace cold – then crank the AC, break out the hot-chocolate or whatever is the local specialty drink (hot-toddy’s, anybody?), and get yourself ready for some excitement.

I’ve done this a few times and it’s a great way to get out of the work-a-day mindset and remind yourself that you’ve got some traveling coming up soon, and hopefully it’s going to be nothing like the place you currently are. Do you have any particular pre-trip rituals? Let us know what fun things you like to do before going on vacation.

Do you have any pre-trip rituals? What are some of the fun things you like to do before you travel?


  1. Mary Kremer says:

    I love these ideas! Anticipation is one of the best things about traveling, and this takes it to another level, beyond dreaming and reading guidebooks, to actually experiencing a bit of the place you will be visiting.

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