Hustle harder. The socially-accepted way of stating that we’re all working our tails off these days chasing the latest definition of perfection. We’re also told that self-care is a must. Travel, mankind’s trusted self-care go-to, needs an update. I’m here to introduce you to the micro-vacation—the lifestyle you didn’t even know you were missing out on. As military families, we typically move often so we’re gifted with more opportunities than most to explore different areas.
WHAT IS A MICRO-VACATION?
The micro-vacationing concept is simple. Take your allotted budget and time for travel each year, then divide throughout, rather than spending all of your budget and time on one big vacation. The results of taking shorter vacations throughout the year are life-changing and don’t include an increased budget. I’ve been micro-vacationing for years now and feel increasingly more accomplished. My work product has tripled, and my inner creative has had a chance to blossom again.
WHY YOU NEED THEM
Americans fall short of nearly every modern country in taking vacation days each year. We’re gritty, entrepreneurial, and have a serious issue with placing value on time off. Our society values getting to the point and sees relationship building as a byproduct of work itself. We’re the mullet workforce of the world—business upfront, prioritizing work-life balance in the back. The result is a culture of burned out adults clinging desperately to the one week per year they might take a few days off to recharge.
The problem lies with vacation itself. If research has shown that it is physically impossible to catch up on sleep after the fact, then why do we vacation once a year to catch up on life apart from work? Take your vacations like your sleep—often, and please do ensure quality.
A misconception about vacations is that all parties involved will spend time together. The reality of a once-a-year getaway is that a year’s worth of frustration, reflection, and anticipation often results in a silo effect. Everyone is physically together, yet they’re too drained to “work” on actively pursuing one another. If you’ve ever felt like you need a vacation after the vacation, you know what I’m talking about. It’s time our travels reflect the uniqueness of who we are.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR MICRO-VACATIONS
Being well-traveled doesn’t mean traveling the world. Opportunities to discover moments of joy await the open-minded, not the open wallets. Often overlooked are the travel opportunities in each state. With vacations steadily on the books throughout the year, pressure to see the “best” one thing is off the table. You can make time to expand travel vocabularies. What’s within driving distance is not only plausible, but also attainable. You can now try new things without feeling that your only time was wasted. If this vacation wasn’t everyone’s favorite, another chance to try lies just up ahead.
As the family vacation planner, I aim to tick all the boxes every year. Scattered throughout the weeks for our three boys are trips of varied shapes and sizes. Chances to run wild, dig, and admire the finer things in life. There are trips to waterparks, where my husband and I play referee, lifeguard, and work until we sweat to ensure good times. Since life is about give and take, there are also plenty of weekends dedicated to climbing mountains, appreciating new murals, and foodie dream trips to the city. They have theirs, we have ours, in an agreement reached through a mutual understanding that “your time will come”. Each season of life brings new needs to the forefront. There’s time we yearn for heart-pounding adventure and time when we require slowness to restore. Words fall hopelessly short when describing how impactful this has been to the growth of my family both as individuals and as a unit.
WHAT ABOUT THE FINANCES?
I often get asked how we manage to do so much with kids and a single-family military income. The secret is and always will be consistency. We travel often, thus have raised children conditioned to its expectations. We make space for weekends focused on them and expect the same in return. We forego the expensive, all-inclusive trips and opt for multiple low-barrier entries such as landmarks, parks, and festivals. We cheat the system through putting in time-off requests, turning the three-day weekend into a four-day getaway. We’ve opted out of the obligatory trips home for the holidays, inviting family to join us for a weekend renting a chalet instead.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Life’s pace only seems to grow faster as the years go on. Developing a strong understanding of self through travel is a skill often acquired too late in life. For to live closely with the world is to value your place within it. To grow more passionate with who you are today requires learning from your past endeavors.
Through the years of micro-vacationing, we’ve weaved a life where work and travel intertwine symbiotically. The nirvana of this life balance is what I wish for you too.
Samantha Peterson is a freelance writer and storytelling photographer. She uses military life as a platform for unique opportunities to travel with her family nearly every weekend. Determined to “live a thousand lives”, she’s tackling every path life has to offer. Their on-the-road lifestyle can be found through their blog or Instagram.
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