How to Go On Vacation (When You Can’t Afford a Vacation)

By Andy Hayes

Everybody needs a break now and then, and when the skies are clear and it seems like everyone else is on vacation, it can leave you feeling depleted just thinking about how you can’t afford to go on vacation.

No matter what your circumstances, we want to make some suggestions to ensure you are finding ways to enjoy some fresh air and clear mind, without spending a time if necessary.    There are plenty of blogs and books about travel hacking (Chris Guillebeau comes top of mind),

Firstly, don’t do this.

Please, if you’re having a “forget it, I’m outta here” moment, we strongly suggest avoiding going on a vacation and put it all on credit cards.  You can easily knock yourself several steps back from your financial goals by increasing high-interest debt and not keeping up with savings.  It’s just not worth it.

Then, consider something simple.

That seems a little bit of a strange headline, so let me unpack that a bit.  Vacation websites and travel agencies sell the dream of going so far away from home, with just a vibrant cacophony of experiences.   But, to be honest, sometimes what can be just as nourishing, fun, and delightful is a stay-at-home vacation where you get to enjoy a few of your favorite local experiences.  I’m not saying an afternoon at the local nickle arcade is the same as walking along the River Seine in Paris at night, but I do think if you can’t make it to Paris you’ll feel better turning your phone off and taking some time for yourself for several hours.  What’s something simple that could make your heart sing?

New adventures don’t have to be far, or expensive.

I know I said I wasn’t getting into travel hacking, but don’t forget you don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money to find some new experiences.

  • What’s a small town an hour away from home that you’ve never been?
  • Is there a famous tourist experience near you that you that you haven’t enjoyed?

Those are my top two questions to help get you thinking, but there are often so many experiences easy to find: hiking trails, cooking classes (bonus is you get to have fun and eat at the end!), old libraries, or hosting a dinner party potluck.

Vacation is a state of mind, not a place.

It sounds cliche, but it’s true: we’ve all been on vacations that didn’t feel very vacat-ing.  Change your mindset and look at vacation as a state of mind:  escaping to a backyard hammock with flavored water and a good book and no mobile app notifications for 4 hours for me is an incredible vacation.  Yours may look different – bowling, dance class, dance party, barbecuing, sleeping an entire day…   Don’t judge yourself for not having a vacation budget, and don’t judge yourself for what the ideal not-actually-vacat-ing-vacation looks like for you.