Vacations are fun. They can be relaxing, healing, adventurous and exciting. And they go a long way in helping you feel alive and in the moment. But there’s always that point when an intrepid trip abroad or a nice unwinding staycation has to come to an end. Or does it? Can you extend your vacation time?
Do you really need to wrap up your vacation when tradition dictates that you should? Do limited savings and a finite amount of paid time off have to force you back from vacation before you’re ready?
Perhaps not. Really. The modern world is full of surprises, after all. Maybe you want to stretch your vacation out for another week. Or perhaps you want to eventually quit your job and live on the road. Here are some of the best ways to extend your time off.
The wonder of remote work
Whether you have short-term or long-term goals, it’s worth considering remote work as a temporary financial stopgap. Using your professional skills to pick up freelance work can be an easy and flexible way to make some cash while on the road (or on a beach or in a foreign coffee shop, no less) and keep your bank account full.
If you’re going to try to extend your vacation time without going back to your normal 9-to-5 job for a while, though, it’s important to have a thorough plan in place. Make sure to build your credit score and pay off that credit card debt beforehand in order to keep your financial status healthy as you travel. Budget your fluctuating income and expenses as carefully as you can, too. Also, make sure that you keep your resume in tip top condition to help with a job search when you eventually return to normal life.
Frills versus experiences
While pampering yourself is a classic part of a vacation, it’s not the only factor you want to consider. Besides, luxurious and unnecessary frills can often be expensive. If you’re thinking of extending your vacation, it’s important to correctly prioritize two things: experiences and frills.
Unless you’re flush with cash, chances are you’ve budgeted, scrimped and saved to pull this trip off (more on budgeting below). Which means if you want to keep going, you need to make sure you can afford it. Remember, you’re on vacation for the experience first and foremost. If you’re going to stay longer, make sure you’re keeping that in the front of your mind. Don’t blow your extra money on meaningless tourist attractions, expensive restaurants (unless you’re a foodie), and other frills that, while admittedly tempting, can quickly drain your vacation cash stash.
The monetary factor
If you’re trying to extend your vacation — especially before you’ve even left — here are a few tips to keep in mind in order to keep your costs to a minimum.
- Make a budget: Yes, it may seem like an everyday kind of thing that shouldn’t be involved in a vacation. But it really is a smart move to go over your budget if you want things to last as long as possible. Make sure to map out your budget, add up your income and factor in your known expenses. Also look at what you have leftover for unexpected emergencies, extra spending, etc.
- Plan as far ahead as possible: The earlier you can book airfare, hotel rooms, and so on, the more likely you are to be able to shop around and find a good deal.
- Eat on the cheap: Food is a subtle expense that can undermine the most well-thought-out budget. Think through where you’re choosing to eat. Try to mitigate the costs of breakfast and lunch by grocery shopping, and keep snacks on you to keep hunger at bay.
- Wait for souvenir shopping: It’s tempting to buy souvenirs for yourself and others as they pop up, but be careful. It’s another black hole. If you don’t think through each purchase, you may end up leaving them in an airport because you’ve overpacked your bag. Wait to buy souvenirs until the end of your trip, when you know your budget and suitcase space.
- Try to avoid excessive travel within your travels: Walk as much as you can and utilize rideshare apps and local transportation. If you really need a rental vehicle, do your homework. Look for a deal and don’t rent a model with frills you don’t need. Consider whether or not to get car rental insurance before you’re actively renting the car.
Change your travel approach
Hotels are expensive. Cruise cabins are pricey, too. A $150 per night accommodation adds up to over $1000 for a single week. The plain truth is, if you want to stay somewhere longer, you might need to compromise on lodging to extend your vacation time. Try looking for Airbnb deals or even shifting your focus and giving camping a shot. It can lower your costs for both lodging and food, all in one fell swoop.
Finally, consider how you choose to travel to your vacation location. If you’re heading to Europe from the US, obviously you’re going to need plane tickets. However, if you’re heading across the country you have other options. Just want some more time away from work to explore new places? Don’t jump to any one specific form of travel.
Scout out your options. Check out air, train and bus fares. Look into car-sharing to help you get from one place to another affordably. The point is, don’t choose one mode of transportation automatically. Weigh your options and see which one will best facilitate a longer vacation.
Extending your vacation time
Whether you’re stretching your budget, using alternative modes of transportation, choosing experiences over frills, or literally making money on the road, there are plenty of ways to keep afloat while on an extended vacation. All it requires is a bit of creative thinking and a willingness to occasionally leave your comfort zone.
So what are you waiting for? It doesn’t matter if you’re figuring out a vacation six months from now or you’re already on a beach in Honolulu. Start mapping things to extend your vacation time, as you know you so desperately want! It’s waiting there, ripe for the taking.