Image: Roanoke Island, on The Outer Banks Islands, North Carolina
Summer vacation is probably the last thing on your mind.
I know we’re all swamped with Christmas planning right now, so amid the lists of gifts and cards and to-do’s and parties and menu planning and decorating, next summer’s plans are a million miles away.
It’s not! (I also think about summer a lot when the weather turns cold, so planning a trip gives me somewhere else to take my thoughts.)
I often hear people say that they “wish they could go somewhere”, or that there is a specific destination they’ve always dreamed of visiting but haven’t. Sometimes the reason things like this don’t happen is because of the obvious; money. You can’t argue with a lack of funds.
However, I also hear people saying they just don’t know when they’d go. They’re not sure how they’d find the time.
I’d argue that we largely do have the time, it’s that we probably lack the planning. According to this article, Americans only use 77% of their vacation time. That means we’re electing to waste vacation days we’ve earned in order to spend more time at work.
I’m not even going to get into how insane that is.
Let me just say that I truly believe the bigger reason vacations are not being taken, is because time is slowly but surely slipping through our fingers, without us giving much thought to the fact that we can’t get it back.
When we focus so much on just getting through the day, which is incredibly easy to do, we tend to forget the bigger picture, and larger plans are not made.
Summer Vacation Planning – Some Recommendations
My husband and I love to travel, fiercely so. Which is probably why I hate the thought of so many people giving up their well-deserved time off, and their bucket list goals, because they’re too buried in their day-to-day to realize that they’re life is being lived now. There is no “one day I’ll do…”.
That day is here.
If you find yourself thinking that you are one of those folks who would love to travel, but just haven’t made it come together, or at least not as often as you’d like, here are some recommendations for some things that I’ve found have worked for us.
- Make yourself a priority. That means carving out time for yourself and your family FIRST. That means that your entire calendar, and how you allocate your time, is not dictated by what other people convince, cajole, guilt or pressure you into doing.
- Get nerdy. Microsoft Excel is your friend. Even if you’re not a big spreadsheet person, make one anyway. Create a list of all the destinations you’d like to visit. This doesn’t have to be grand. It should include things like long weekend get-aways to places you can drive to in a few hours. But to be clear, please include those things that are grand. You want to make it to Luxor, Egypt one day? It goes on the list. Don’t worry about how crazy it sounds right now. Dreaming about these trips is almost as much fun as going!
- Get big picture. I’m too big picture, which gets me in trouble a lot, but some of the ways that it’s to my advantage is when I’m planning things long-term. Plot out when you’d like to take time off well in advance. Take a look at your next 12-24 months (or more, especially if you’re budgeting alongside a very expensive, large trip). and mark off the days/weeks that you’d like to travel. Ask for that time off at work as soon as you’ve committed to those dates.
- Budget. Even those with the healthiest of incomes still need to budget (for everything, really, but I’m not talking about that today). Consider making a line item in your budget only for vacations. If you have a huge, dream vacation in mind, figure out how much you’ll need, how long it’ll take to save for it, when you’re taking the trip, and how much you’ll need to allocate each month. You’ll see how quickly you can make that dream a reality, and come home from your trip without vacation debt.
I hope you’ll give some serious consideration to giving yourself the time off you need and deserve in 2016. If anyone does already have some cool travel plans for 2016, I would LOVE to hear about it!