Imagine you just spent $5,000 on a week-long trip to Maui to celebrate a big milestone. By the time you finally adjust to the time zone and get accustomed to the climate, it’s time to head home. You spent all that money and effort to get there and just like that, it’s over. You immediately start dreaming of how nice it would be to take longer trips.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans are wasting over $52 billion each year by not using their vacation time. Not only is that a lot of money to leave on the table, failing to take vacations affects our physical and emotional health. It affects our work performance and creativity. And it cheats us of quality time with our families and loved ones.Not only is that a lot of money to leave on the table, failing to take vacations affects our physical and emotional health. Click To Tweet
It’s your time. It’s part of your benefits package. You owe it to yourself to start using it ASAP.
My husband, Jer, and I discovered our shared love of travel when we got married in Hawaii nearly fifteen years ago. We somehow managed to squeeze wedding preparations, the big day, and touring the entire island of Oahu into one week. The following year we took another week-long trip, but the year after that, we wanted something different.
We were planning our first trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. We planned to rent a car and explore the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. We felt like it would be impossible to see everything we wanted to see in a week, so we stayed a little longer. That twelve-day trip changed the way we’ll travel forever.
It takes a lot of time to plan a trip like that. Preparing, packing, and traveling can consume days. Plus, you’re already spending the money on airfare. If you’re like us, you probably only take one big trip per year. Doesn’t it makes sense to take longer trips?
Sounds great, you say. But money doesn’t grow on trees.
I hear you.
Over the last fifteen years, Jer and I have figured out how to take epic longer trips without busting our budget. I share all of our secrets in this post. But today, I want to talk about three of my favorites. And I bet there’s at least one you haven’t tried.
Three Best Ways to Save
Skip the Resort
Skip the resort and rent a vacation home instead. There are so many options for lodging these days from Airbnb to aggregators like Home to Go. It would be crazy to not consider all of these amazing new options.
Vacation rentals typically cost less than a hotel room. Especially if you have a large family or are traveling with a group. Break the cost down per person and see what makes the most financial sense for you.Vacation rentals cost less than hotel rooms. Especially if you have a large family or are with a group. Break the cost down per person and see what makes sense for you. Click To Tweet
There is also the added benefit of being able to make your own meals and drinks, saving even more. Imagine, happy hour cocktails on your own private veranda for a quarter of what you’d pay at a beachfront restaurant. A fully stocked kitchen will allow you to pack lunches as snacks for the beach or a day of exploring. And after a few days of restaurants, you’ll look forward to healthy home cooked meals in the privacy of your home away from home.
Here’s a great example of how much the prices can differ.
Jer and I visited Maui to celebrate our ten year anniversary. We planned six months in advance and scored an ocean front condo for $120 per night. The unit was newly remodeled and had jaw-dropping views. A comparable oceanfront room at a resort would have cost us around $300 per night. That’s a savings of $1260 per week!
We saved even more by preparing our own meals and dining on our oceanfront lanai. We ate fresh fish and salads at a fraction of what we’d pay in a restaurant. We even invented a signature drink, passion fruit Bellinis. We saved money, made memories and enjoyed a longer trip.
Just Say No to Rental Cars
If you’ve been following our travels the last several years, you know that we have been renting cars. We’ve been spending so much time off the beaten path that it’s been the only option. We always get excellent deals on cars, but given the option, we love to use public transportation.
If you’re visiting a city like New York, Athens, Honolulu, or Puerto Vallarta, you’ll want to skip the car. Driving is a pain and parking is expensive. It’s not worth the headache.
In big cities, public transportation is inexpensive and efficient. And Uber and Lyft are expanding across the world making rental cars completely unnecessary for most travelers.
We relied on public transportation 100 percent of the time when we visited Nicaragua. We used a combination of private drivers, cabs, ferries, and buses. It was inexpensive, efficient, safe, and there was never a dull moment.
Some of our best experiences with the Nicaraguan people happened during our transportation adventures. Like the guy who was covered in tattoos who overheard where we were going and helped us when we need to get off the bus. And the taxi driver who drove two hours at night to get us where we needed to go after a daylong ferry delay. There were beautiful people and experiences we never would have enjoyed if we had rented a car.
The Best Things in Life are Free
If you want to enjoy longer trips, forgo the tourist attractions and take advantage of free activities.
Do as the locals do. Grab a beer and some poke and spend the evening on the beach, watching the sunset and gazing up at the stars. Or catch a bus out of town to hike to that little-known waterfall. There are so many amazing free activities if you do a little research.There are so many amazing free activities if you do a little research. Click To Tweet
The added bonus is that you might have the place to yourself. We’ve spent days on secluded beaches and had waterfall vistas all to ourselves. It’s a great way to really wind down and reset.
Taking longer trips
Where would you like to take an extended vacation? Share in the comments below or come start a conversation on Facebook.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November of 2015. It has been completely revamped for accuracy, comprehensiveness, and readability. Please enjoy and feel free to share this newly revised content.