Focusing on God While on Vacation

I have been traveling three out of the last five weeks. We spent almost a week at the beach with my husband on one of his business trips and then a week and a half later, we left on a two-week long trek to my home-state of Montana, which is where I am right now. It’s been a whirlwind, and while the trips have contained great blessings, they also have come with struggles to maintain my prayer life and I miss daily Mass, which is harder to get to depending on the trip. My husband and I were recently talking about the difficulties in our prayer routines throughout these trips.

By their very nature, trips take us outside of our routines. That’s part of the reason we like going on vacations; to get a break from the routine of our daily lives. That being said, my husband and I have set up our house in such a way that there are constant reminders in every room to offer the day up to God. Whether I am doing the dishes or folding the laundry, sacred art is constantly in my line of sight to provide me the much needed nudges throughout my day to offer all things to God. That isn’t the case in hotel rooms or even the homes of families I visit.

This means that in the busyness of the day’s activities, I may forget to offer up small prayers throughout the day and my prayer life has been largely relegated to praying Lauds each morning and that’s about it. I tend to pass out at the end of each day in utter exhaustion. During any down-time I get, I have been reading my way through the copy of Fr. Thomas Joseph White’s The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism that my dad gave me, which helps me to contemplate the mysteries of God, but I definitely miss my routine even as I enjoy all of the wonderful trips we have been on recently.

Since vacations take us outside of our routines and can interfere with our normal prayer lives there are some things that can be helpful to remember and implement during travel. One thing that does not change during our trips is we still go to weekly Confession and Sunday Mass. Far too many Catholics think a vacation is a dispensation for Sunday Mass. It isn’t unless you are traveling in a remote region where Mass is not available. We still need to offer right praise and glory to God each Sunday and we all need to be nourished in Word and Sacrament. Our vacations should have our Sunday Mass obligation at the center of our travel plans.

Pray where you are

Both my trip to the beach and our time in Montana have been a times when I have been surrounded by the utter beauty of God’s creation. From sea level to over 11,000 feet in the Rockies, I have been able to take in the grandeur and wonder of the beauty God pours out in His creation. I love being in the outdoors, and outside of Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, it is where I most readily commune with God. Since I haven’t been able to get to daily Mass during my trips, I have incorporated my love of the outdoors with prayer to an even greater degree.

When I was at the beach I woke up each day before sunrise and walked out onto the beach to pray Lauds while the sun rose. While in Montana, I have sat on the cliffs above my hometown that look out over three different mountain ranges, and prayed Lauds. In doing so, I’ve also been able to enter into prayers of thanksgiving and focused on offering up my day to him, as well as all of my prayer intentions. These periods have also helped to ease any struggles or anxieties I have experienced and strengthen me for the busyness of the upcoming day. In my experience, travel is never inherently restful. Being on the beach or in the mountains always brings me great joy and peace even through the exhaustion of time changes, three-day car trips, poor sleep in hotels, endless socializing, and lack of routine.

Add in a sacred stop

There are countless opportunities for Catholics to stop and enter into the sacred. On our way to Montana, we passed through Benedictine country in Southern Indiana, saw countless cathedrals and Catholic churches, and passed multiple monasteries. We didn’t have time to stop at any of them on our way out since we wanted to get to Montana quickly. It is a 27-hour drive. We did, however, make a plan to stop at the cathedral in Sioux Falls, SD on our way back. The pictures look spectacular and it will give us a few moments in silence before Our Lord in the Tabernacle.

Adding in a stop at a sacred space reminds us of our Catholic identity, even as we are on vacation. It’s an opportunity to enter into the peaceful presence of God and to remember that all things are possible through Him. Catholic churches are open throughout the day and we have numerous opportunities before us to spend time with God while we are traveling. Adding in a stop at a Catholic church or monastery brings with it great blessings and chances to grow in faith.

Be patient with yourself

When I went to Confession before leaving for Montana, I expressed how out of balance I was feeling with all of my trips. It was causing me anxiety for a variety of reasons and I wanted to get back to a place of peace. The priest told me that travel always puts us out of balance because it takes us out of our routine. It poses challenges to our spiritual lives because it is harder to be in a place of rest and normalcy. In other words, what I was feeling and thinking is normal and I need to be patient with myself. I’m not a spiritual master who is unaffected by change in routine or locale. I still need the rhythms of my day at home in order to progress spiritually.

Be patient with yourself in your travels. If you go through the craziness of a day of vacation and realize you haven’t spent time in prayer, then begin again. Offer up simple prayers to God and ask for His grace and strength throughout your travels. If you are driving or flying, take time to look out at God’s Creation and reflect on His beauty. I was getting rather bored riding through Missouri on our way to Montana, so I spent the time I wasn’t driving looking up at the clouds in the sky and contemplated how they reflect in some way God’s glory. Not only did the time fly by, but it was a spiritually fruitful time on the road.

Our trips are going to cause some imbalance for us spiritually. If we are busy visiting with family and friends, as well as making side trips to see the sights, it can be very challenging to get in regular prayer. It may be that we can’t, or don’t, think to pray at various times of the day. Focus on praying in the morning and/or the evening and offering the day to God. Our prayers do not need to be complex or eloquent. It may be that we offer up a prayer for quiet and peace when everyone is fighting in the car or prayers for safe travels. Whatever we decide works best for us, we should make a concerted effort to pray each day. If we miss a day, then we start again. Visiting a sacred site during the vacation can also help us to center our vacation on Christ. There are countless opportunities in our trips to unite our hearts and minds to God. Let’s look for those moments so that our vacations are spiritually fruitful even amidst the crazy busyness of travel.


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy.  Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths (

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