I have never believed in traditional retirement, the complete withdrawal from one’s occupation, business, or office near the end of one’s life. It’s a pipe dream. As millions of ex-retirees quickly realize after an uneventful year on the beach, idleness never was happiness.
But leisure and periodic breaks from work are an important part of life. When used properly, regular vacations can inspire and rejuvenate a willingness to work harder. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be rich or wait until the end of your life to vacation. Here’s how:
- Change your definition of vacation. I’m not sure how or why, but most people think vacations need to be seven days or longer. That can get expensive, both in terms of actual costs and opportunity lost at work. To remedy this, my wife and I go on three or four mini-vacations per year, each ranging three to six days (a majority being over a two day weekend) at most. Length of time should never define a vacation. And a vacation doesn’t have to be an event or big production in your life. Remember that.
- Go local. Although you don’t have to leave home to call it a vacation, “getting away” certainly improves the experience. And you don’t have to go out of state or out of country to “go on vacation.” Lindsey and I regularly stay at tennis and pool resorts that are only an hour away from our home. Instead of heading to the costly Caribbean for some sand and sun, we typically vacation on a beach in California or Florida. Heck, we’ve even stayed at hotels in our very own city for a quick, easy, and cheap “get away.” Going local won’t score you cool points, but that’s not the point of vacations, is it?
- Set limits on your food budget. I enjoy eating out, especially on vacation. Since you don’t have access to a fridge full of food, eating out is more a necessity on vacation than a luxury. That said, eating at reasonably priced restaurants can save you hundreds of dollars on vacation. For example, instead of going to the nicest seafood restaurant, go to a comparable one that still serves fresh fish and chips. Furthermore, stick to a budget of $20-30 per couple per night, then splurge on the final night. Lindsey and I did this in January, and saved nearly two hundred dollars, which — you guessed it — will be used towards our next vacation.
- Doing less is more. If you start young, you have a full life to see and experience the world. You don’t have to cram everything into a single vacation. What’s more, you don’t have to “see it all” to enjoy new locations. By visiting fewer paid attractions, you’ll be able to go on more vacations. I’d rather spare the Louvre in Paris and enjoy the free view of the Eiffel Tower, which could cover the bus pass to my next Yurp destination. You get the idea.
Lindsey and I have gained a reputation for traveling a lot, even though admittedly we have yet to visit more sexy destinations like Hawaii or Europe. We’ll go on more exotic destinations when our time and pocket book permit, but we have never let our fixed income keep us from going on vacation in the meantime. Nor should you.