“Collect memories, not things.”

Atlantic Canadians are chomping at the bit this time of year after another snowy winter. While we made a point of planning and executing tons of winter adventures in an attempt to enjoy the colder Canadian months, we are, like most of you, looking forward to summer.

If you fall in the majority and work 40, 50, or 60+ hours a week, then hear this: YOU NEED A VACATION! And, more than that, you deserve one! For many of us summer is something we look forward to all year.  We dream of BBQ’s, beach days and family road trips but it’s all too easy to fill up our time with busy work, errands, and household projects.

Have you ever reached the end of summer, looked up, and thought, “Where did my summer go?”

If you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed by your summer calendar or if you’ve felt that you were so busy cramming your days full of “stuff” that you missed the part you were looking forward to (the adventures, the relaxation, and the fun) then this article is for you.

Before we start crafting our amazing summer, we have to ask ourselves one question. At the end of the summer, when we look back, what will have had to happen for us to say, “Yeah, that was the BEST SUMMER EVER!”?

STEP 1: Frame It Up – Summer Goals

Most of us have an idea (or many ideas) of what we want to accomplish this summer. Maybe it’s something you’ve been dreaming about for a long time or a family trip you’ve wanted to take. Perhaps you’ve been keen on learning something new, or doing something adventurous.

Think about a time you said, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to ____________.”

Step one is all about writing down all of your summer goals. It’s just a big brain dump. Don’t over think it, don’t censor it, don’t discount ideas that pop into your head. We’re not committing to anything here, we’re simply getting it all down on paper. Decisions can be made later in the process, this is where you get to be creative and think big.

To help get you started, consider the following:

People you want to spend time with: Solo, Family, Couples, Friends

Type of travel: Educational, Adventurous, Camping, Road Trips

Events: Music, Culinary, Festivals

New Experiences

Don’t forget to include things that push you outside your comfort zone a little (or a lot) and also things that have been on your list for a while. Last summer we spent a great deal of time exploring Nova Scotia and realized very quickly that the options for summer fun are endless and often surprising. Some of our favorite memories were made by doing things that aren’t typical for us, things that were new, and things that made us try new things or learn new skills.

STEP 2: Partner Up

Another great way to create different experiences is to partner up with people who have different interests than you do. Travel with your family and partner, of course. But, consider also building in some time with people that don’t have the exact same travel style as you do. Sounds counterintuitive right? Most travel experts say the opposite but hear us out.

Brent and I are very different by nature…VERY different. Brent gravitates towards history, culture, and sport while I’m drawn towards adventure, nature, and anything that puts me in or near the water.

During our first Dashboard Living project, “100 Days of Nova Scotia” we both tried things we likely wouldn’t have if the other person not insisted. =Shooting at Hunt’s indoor gun range in Truro, axe throwing at the Timber Lounge and visiting the many museums of Nova Scotia were all things that were new to me. I’d never fired a gun or threw an axe before in my life (and was, admittedly, nervous about both) but actually loved those activities!

Likewise, Tidal bore rafting, zip lining and visiting haunted houses were things that Brent would have never picked himself but also really enjoyed. At this point, we have had hundreds of different experiences and adventures right here in Nova Scotia and we still haven’t done it all!

STEP 3: Map It Out

We suggest a large whiteboard calendar and/or an online shareable calendar you can sync to your smartphone. This step is simple but often overlooked – it’s decision time.

Take a close look at your schedule. What obligations do you have that are non-negotiable? Pencil those in first.  Next, pick your top three items from your list and make those a priority. Break down your schedule week by week and mark them in your calendar.

We suggest being careful not to schedule every single weekend. Leave a little space for unexpected or spontaneous things that come up and downtime but make a clear plan for those top three things.

Finally, make a list of the remaining items and keep it handy. If you can fit them into your calendar as the summer approaches and progresses, that is great – but if not, at least you will have those top three items scheduled.

STEP 4: Research, Budget & Plan

The final step is probably the most important. This is where you start taking action towards your summer goals. Do the research and figure out exactly what you will need in order to make those top three summer goals happen. Do you need to make reservations? Save some money? Order some camping gear? We still have weeks before summer hits so start taking action now to create a summer full of memories.

If you need a little inspiration or are looking for something to do, we are always happy to help you plan! You can find us at www.facebook.com/dashboardliving/ and don’t forget to use the hashtag #dashboardsummer to stay connected.

You can also visit our website at www.dashboardliving.com for loads of travel inspiration!