GOOD READS

Rethinking Summer Vacation

The weather is getting warmer, trees are starting to grow leaves and officially - spring has sprung. That means that summer, in all its vacation glory, is almost upon us. Don't let a tight budget make summer vacation a thing of the past. You can still spend a summer break outside your cubicle and focused on a memorable vacation that you and your wallet won't regret, you just have to get a little creative about it.

Take Luxury Down a Notch
If you are used to taking lavish vacations in luxury resorts during your summer vacation, you may still be able to do this even if your budget is much lower than it was in prior summers. The trick is to enjoy your luxurious stay for only a short period of time. By choosing a two- or three-day stay midweek instead of an entire week-long vacation, you can take advantage of lower rates while also reducing the overall cost. If you stay in a luxury resort that's close to home, you'll also save on travel expenses.

Break Your Vacation Up
If you have a week's vacation time coming to you, but no money to go away and no desire to sit at home for seven days, then reconsider how you allocate your time. If your employer will allow you to break the days up you can take one day off per week for five weeks. This will give you more than a month of extended weekends to relax and you can enjoy them without feeling as though you are missing out or wasting vacation time sitting at home. It also allows you to spread out vacation spending so it isn't hyper-focused on a single week.

It's All About the Schedule
Many cities host different festivals, carnivals and events to celebrate summer. These events offer cheap and no-cost ways of having fun and breaking out of your daily rut. Whenever possible, schedule your vacation during a week when your area has many free events. Then, you can stay home during your vacation, take advantage of all the free and cheap fun and still feel as though you had an eventful week off.

Learn Something New
Vacation doesn't have to be about lounging by the pool in order for it to rejuvenate and reinvigorate you. Instead you can consider immersing yourself in educational pursuits during your time off. You could learn a new language, study history or art, or focus on any subject that has interested you for years, but that you've never had time to dedicate toward learning. This can even open up new career possibilities by increasing your skills. Look into cheap and free classes locally and take out library books that help support your lessons. You can even create a schedule for yourself with educational goals and accomplishments if that helps you stay focused.

Focus on Simple Pleasures
Vacation doesn't have to be lavish and flashy to be worthwhile. Simply having time to sleep-in, take walks in the park, grab a mid-afternoon cup of coffee a with friend, and enjoy your children can be more valuable than an expensive trip to a tropical island. Use your limited budget on vacation as an excuse to reinvest yourself in the simple pleasures around you and think about how you can incorporate them into your everyday life.

The Bottom Line
You can't wait until you have money to enjoy yourself. Putting your life on hold until your budget allows you to devote more toward discretionary spending is an irresponsible way to treat yourself. Instead of focusing on what you can't do during your vacation, learn how to be creative about what you can do and develop a different kind of dream vacation - one that's all about quality of life not quantity of money.



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