It’s not a vacation

Caye Caulker, Belize

Okay, it’s not exactly a vacation, even if it looks like one. Initially, it even felt like one and we had to try to rein that in a little. We’re on island time and it’s easy to linger a little too long over dinner, having a few extra drinks along the way. The water is inviting and there is always somebody offering one amazing experience or another. It’s easy to say “yes” to it all.

I’m reminded of our Honeymoon trip to Hawaii, many, many moons ago, where a tour operator encouraged people to sign up for excursions by explaining: “You’re in paradise now. Take advantage of it. Worry about paying for everything when you get home.”

That’s what comes to mind when I hear the word “vacation:” a reason to indulge. Expensive dinners, shows, tours, spa treatments, souvenirs, whatever you want, it’s all fair game. And with good reason too. After all, it is just one week out of 52. Why not live a little?

Only, for us, it isn’t just one week. It is all of them; at least that is the plan. Returning home to figure out how to pay the bill means we’ve failed.

What we’re trying to do instead is create a sustainable lifestyle that allows us to explore the world in perpetuity. Every day can’t be a vacation. We have neither the resources nor the energy for that.

We’re also thinking about this trip a bit strategically. We know certain destinations are outlandishly expensive for travelers, like Western Europe. We have no intention of skipping places just because of price, so we need to find other ways of coping. One option is to use low cost areas, like Central America, to offset the costs of expensive destinations. Can a couple of months in Central America pay for some indulgences, like an extended tour of France? That is what we’re trying to find out.

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6 Comments on “It’s not a vacation”

  1. February 20, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    We are on the same page regarding “vacations”. Even though we travel full time, we are not on vacation. Funny, because we are actually taking a “vacation” to Las Vegas for a week at the end of March. But, we are doing it very inexpensively.

    One of the ways we save is on accommodation. We are members of and so we try and stay with people who live in the area we are visiting. In fact, we’ve got 3 days of our Vegas trip staying with a family who lives there. No cost, plus you get to meet like minded people who live in the area. And because they live there, they are the best source of info about what to see and what is not worthwhile. We have met many new friends using couchsurfing.

    Also, we use house sitting. You can sign up through a link on our blog. We’re currently looking for a 2-4 month house sitting gig in the UK or Europe for this summer.


    • Brian February 21, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Thanks for the great info. House sitting is definitely on our radar, especially for expensive regions where we might want to stay for awhile. We haven’t done it yet, though. Couchsitting is something we haven’t really considered – it always seemed like something best geared toward single twenty-somethings. What has your experience been traveling as a couple using couchsurfing?


      • February 21, 2012 at 10:20 am #

        Couchsurfing certainly started out as a site for young people, but it has evolved to include all ages. While there are still many young people on the site who offer their couch in their small apartment, there are also many families or older people who have a four bedroom house with three empty bedrooms! You can search by age group, and so we stay with people who are close to our age and interests. We have only had good experiences and have stayed with people in Memphis, Lexington, Cancun, Zacatecas, and others. There are now over 1 million members around the world.


        • Brian February 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

          Hmmmm. Sounds like we need to take a look at this couch-surfing thing. Thanks.


  2. f-stop mama February 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I will be anxious to see what you find out. My boyfriend and I want to do exactly that in about 2 years. We want to travel and interact with the world but we are in no position to retire and just live it up (so to speak). We would like to have a sustainable lifestyle and travel on a low cost budget. Neither of us are interested in expensive and pampering but instead experiences and meeting new people. We are looking at moving to Panama as a home base. Keep the posts coming and good luck on your travels.


  3. Peter Pazucha February 21, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    I appreciated your comment, “Only, for us, it isn’t just one week. It is all of them; at least that is the plan. Returning home to figure out how to pay the bill means we’ve failed.” Making the transition from “normal work” to retired in an RV does take some getting accustomed to, and understanding the difference between living and “vacationing” isn’t always intuitive.


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