We’ve been back an entire week from our two weeks vacation at the beach. I have one comment to make, “No regrets!” I’ve taken a two weeks vacation once before about a decade ago and I forgot how nice it was to truly get away for two weeks.
Many of our own family and friends ask how we can afford to take two weeks off. After all, we’re self-employed and you starve if you don’t work.
In this post, I’ll share the benefits of going on vacation for two weeks, and a few ways we saved some cash.
How We Planned Our Trip
You know the old “six Ps” adage: Prior proper planning prevents poor performance. Deciding on a whim to take two weeks off usually isn’t a good idea. It’s very easy to squander your free time or spend money you don’t have because you wait until the last minute to make reservations.
We Planned to Take Two Weeks Off
When my wife and I first started planning our trip, one of our largest concerns was if we could go two weeks without work. At my old job, I had paid time off. Taking a week or two off of work wasn’t a big deal because my pay stub was always the same amount.
We now adhere to a different paradigm being self-employed and being gone for two weeks might mean living on Ramen Noodles next month to offset the lost wages. Since we started planning in advance for this trip, we were diligent about setting some extra money aside to pay our normal monthly bills, since my paycheck was going to be roughly 50% less. Transferring a couple hundred dollars into a savings account each month is easier than trying to find $1,500 all at once.
During the second week, I got up early and worked for two hours before breakfast. So, I did work 10 hours the second week compared to the usual 40ish hours I usually put in. Yes, I did work a little bit, but how many jobs now let you perform zero work while on vacation. Several others in my family also had to do some computer work too or make a phone call to keep the operation humming.
We Only Paid $1500 for Our Two Weeks Vacation
In addition to setting aside money for our regular monthly bills, we also had to pay for the vacation. For us, spending $1700 is phenomenal for two weeks of vacation.
This is a break down of how much our vacation was by category:
- Lodging: $1000
- Gas: $200
- Groceries: $150
- Restaurants: $70 (One meal each week)
- Sightseeing: $20
- Souvenirs: $30
The easiest way to save money is lodging and groceries, which we split between the other two families both weeks. We also only went out for one meal each week. For example, a seafood meal can easily cost $20 to $30 per plate, or you can pay $90 and cook it yourself to feed three families.
Saving Money on Vacation Homes
Our rental house alone was $1500 a week and we split it with two other families. My parent and brother came the first week, then my wife’s parents and brother came in the second week. Our children are smaller so we can still get away with renting a three bedroom villa.
But, my wife spent several hours scouring VRBO for a bargain listing that had the right sleeping accommodations. Instead of just going with the first recommendation (which might be double the price) take the time to look for bargains.
Time is money and where you sleep is an easy way to save money. While our house wasn’t the Ritz-Carlton, it was clean, safe, and the beds were comfortable. And, we weren’t crammed like sardines!
Do yourself a favor and stop staying at hotels. With Airbnb and VRBO, you can usually find an entire house for half the cost of a hotel room. And, you have more privacy!
Cook Food Instead of Going Out to Eat
I’ll be honest, my wife and I don’t really care to go out to eat. We stopped and ate a meal both ways for convenience, but we only went out for one meal each week.
There’s a two-fold reason for not going out to eat. The first reason is that we like eating organic food and most restaurants cook with bad oils and use lots of salt and other commercial seasonings that generally leave us feeling thirsty and a heavy gut an hour later. Yes, we’re spoiled with fresh grown garden vegetables and other foods that aren’t as greasy.
Secondly, we can make the same dishes for a fraction of the cost. Not going out to eat frequently is one way we thrive on an annual salary of $35,000. If we go out to eat, it’s for items we won’t take the time to make or the rare times when my wife doesn’t feel like cooking.
Some of our friends like to go out to eat for most meals on vacation to save time and trying out new restaurants. To each their own, but our approach towards restaurants is this: We don’t go out to eat every meal so we can get the second week of vacation!!
I don’t know about you, but I’ll pinch pennies any day of the week to get more time away from the daily grind.
The Mental Benefits of a Two Weeks Vacation
If you’ve never taken two weeks off before, you need to give it a try. I’ve done it twice and this was my wife’s first time. Here are some of our reflections.
You Can Truly Relax
When you only go on vacation for a week, the thought of having to return in 5,4, or 3 days is always in the back of your mind, so you never allow yourself to get too comfortable.
After the 4th or 5th day and realizing you don’t have to start packing the bags quite yet is a huge mental relief. You begin thinking like a local and developing a small routine. You also have time to explore areas you don’t do during a single week because there’s not enough time.
You Forget About the World
For the first week, I kept up with the news and current events for the first few days, then I slowly drifted away and turned off the tv. The novelty wore off and I realized it’s the same programming every single day and a glimpse of what it must feel like to be stuck in a nursing home or hospital.
I guess I could be more diligent about unplugging from the world when I’m not on vacation, but when you’re job somewhat depends on it, it’s almost impossible. So, I try to spend 15 minutes at most per day on social media. Just like I do everything possible to avoid tv, I try to avoid social media too. My blood pressure stays down and I don’t play the comparison game as much.
You Get to Spend More Time With the Children
I’ll admit that I’m not a huge beach fan; a long weekend is sufficient for me, but my children and wife enjoy the beach and pool. Seeing them enjoy the beach and pool was fun. Our two children will only be three and one years old once, so I tried to make the most of it.
Where Are You Going for Two Weeks?
It’s your turn now. Where are you going for your first two weeks hiatus?
I hope my tips have helped you realize a two-week vacation is possible if you properly plan for it. The additional relaxation is well worth it.