When Can I Afford to Take a Vacation?

This is a question I found myself asking. I work hard. I spend a lot of my days at a computer, on my grind. Weeks, months, years pass by in this mode of existence featured very prominently in my day to day. I’m married and my wife works hard, too. We’ve been working to get our financial lives in order. We budget, cook food at home, and generally reap the financial benefits of being homebodies. We’ll travel later, right?

This is a personal and philosophical question. Somewhat out of the blue, my wife and I decided: No! Now! We fired up TravelExcellence.com and before you knew it, we had booked tickets for 8 days in Costa Rica. This is very out of character for us. In our nearly 4 years of marriage, we have been king and queen of the staycation. What caused us to change our minds?

  1. One Day We Will Die. I’m not reviving the YOLO bandwagon, but I do endorse making time to have fun and experience life while you’re young. It really is a personal investment. EXPERIENCE itself it a valuable commodity. It is intangible and tangible, which leads me to…
  2. You Will Expand Your Horizons. There’s something about getting out there and doing things that makes you bigger on the inside than you were before. When we finally made the trip, we found ourselves meeting all kinds of interesting people. We met Thomas and Sema, the American expats and business-couple. We heard their ideas on life and gleaned important information about how they are able to fund their international “gypsy” lifestyle. Alone at home, we could have saved money and earned some more, sure, but we wouldn’t have mixed with adventurous people that we met in CR.
  3. You Remember What’s Important. Left to myself, in my little office, it’s easy to forget why I’m trying to become financially stable in the first place. Money buys options and possibilities. It’s a ticket to facets of life that would otherwise be out of your reach. It’s a hand up from the grind that leads some people through a 40 year career into a retirement that they’re too old and tired to enjoy. By taking some time away, especially if you have a significant other, you get time to simply enjoy life and enjoy each other. It puts things back in perspective.
  4. You Do Better Work Once You Get Back. This piggy-backs off the previous point, but I do think it is distinct. When we got back from our trip, it was so much easier to do the work I have to do every day. I had a renewed energy, new ideas, and a friendlier manner with the people I interact with in my work. When you work all the time, there is some part of your mind that is always churning away on the hamster wheel. If you never give that little fellow a breather, you diminish your own productivity. Just because you’re not burning out yet doesn’t mean you don’t need a break. You’ll get more out of your time if you do.

I think world business culture is moving toward to recognition of time taken away from work. Whatever the case, I am going to continue my working life with a willingness to invest in vacation for me and my wife from our daily toil. Like I said, the benefits are sometimes intangible, but I think there are plenty of recognizable benefits that you can see with your eyes (and in your bank account).

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