If your big dream is to travel the world, like me, then you probably remember the essays that teachers made students write, every September, after returning to school following real summer vacation. “What did you do over your summer vacation?” was always the big question.
I worry that most adults lose this concept of a “real summer vacation” once “grown-up life” kicks in which for most wanderers means a 9-to-5 job and plenty of bills to pay. Most Americans work long hours to pay for their homes, cars, food, kids, and healthcare.
Extensive research documents that the mismatch between work and life today leads to very high and very expensive levels of absenteeism and attrition as well as to decreases in productivity. (Source: Center for American Progress)
Who has time to take a “real” summer vacation when you are working overtime to pay for your life?
Right now, I am experiencing a real summer vacation and loving every minute of it. But I can’t help but think about those who dream of travel but are never able to take time off from work.
Most People Opting Out of Vacation?
An article in the UK Guardian quoted research stating that only 15% of Americans plan to take a “real” summer vacation. A survey of 1,005 Americans revealed that 33% of them couldn’t afford it. Another 30% were just too busy to take one, while 22% just planned to take just a short vacation over a summer weekend.
This lack of downtime makes me sad, and makes me feel especially fortunate that 1) I am self-employed and that I can be flexible with my time; 2) that I have access to a beach house on the Jersey shore where I go once a year for big family gatherings, and 3) that I am treating myself this year to what even for me is something rare these days: A REAL summer vacation in which I am not working every day on my own projects even while on “vacation.”
Being Self-Employed Is Awesome and Means Working Random Hours.
I love being self-employed, so you won’t hear any complaints from me about my life. It has allowed me to travel internationally over the past two decades, and to have adventures with family and friends. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That said, being self-employed also often means that you work odd, long hours, including evenings and weekends, because you are the only one who can keep your business running, and keep generating income.
There is no “boss” to make it rain money–except you. If you don’t do the work and market your businesLamberti’ss then you may not generate the revenue you need to support your life.
It is both liberating and a big responsibility to be the one in charge of generating all of your own income. I love it personally and am very self-motivated. I have done this for so many years that I’m used to setting deadlines for myself and meeting them, and I’m used to creating new programs and generating new streams of revenue.
But this summer, I decided to take a real summer vacation because even the hardest working self-employed entrepreneurs need a break sometimes.
This week is an actual real vacation week in which I am not completing reports, starting new projects, or saving the world. Of course, I am writing this blog post about taking a “real” vacation but this is the one exception. It feels creative and fun to write without restrictions.
What Am I Doing On This Real Summer Vacation?
I am blessed to be staying at a beach house in southern New Jersey. The beach house is a short walk from the ocean and only one block from the bay. Tonight, I enjoyed cocktails and dinner at Lamberti’s, a restaurant that is located right on Sunset Bay. Earlier today, I swam in the ocean with my niece and nephew, who were boogie-boarding with their dad.
This morning, I watched my nephew at soccer camp. Last night, I caught an outdoor light show on the boardwalk in Atlantic City with techno music accompanied by live pipe organ.
Because my family loves to eat, there has been tons of good food and the wine overflows. I am eating mostly vegan and gluten-free these days but still have had indulgences–some Prosecco, which is a favorite; pear, walnut and almond salad with goat cheese, which is currently a “cheat” for me; frozen “Banana Whip” with hot fudge.
The best part of a real summer beach vacation is to be able to wake up when I want, nap if I need to, wander down to the beach at whatever hour I want. For me, that generally means late afternoon since I am so pale and burn to a crisp if I visit the beach too early in the day.
I spend these lazy days on the shore enjoying the company of beloved family, relaxing and catching up on sleep after a hectic few weeks, and returning to one of my first love’s: the ocean.
I have always felt calmed, restored and renewed by the waves and ocean breezes. There are few things that make me feel more peaceful and put life back into proper perspective than returning to the ocean, which always seems infinite and powerful and soothing, and makes my “worldly” problems seem so small.
My Travel Dream Wish For You
My wish for everyone reading this is that this summer, or if not maybe this fall, you get to take a “real vacation” where you don’t answer emails, check phones, read the news, scan social media, or do any work. Time spent away from your regular, everyday routine, preferably even away from home if you can swing it, where you can relax, kick up your feet and enjoy yourself.
I’ve taken “real vacations” totally by myself, with romantic partners, and with family, and personally, I have loved every single vacation I have ever taken. Our bodies and souls need a chance to recharge. Travel changes you. Travel affords you some perspective on your life.
Americans especially are known to be so hard-driving and often over-worked, stressed out and sleep-deprived. Sometimes what you really need most is just some time on the beach, when nothing is scheduled, where no one can reach you, with all of you electronic devices unplugged or shut off.
Schedule yourself a real summer vacation by starting with a special savings account for travel. Make sure it is separate from your regular bill-paying bank accounts. If you can set up an automated payment into the account, you won’t miss the money. If cost is an issue, look for everyday expenses you can cut back on like wine, beer, pedicures, expensive gym memberships you never use, eating out, etc. Start a change jar for your travel fund and throw in loose change. Have a garage sale and sell everything you don’t use.
Be creative about making your travel dreams come true. Why not launch your big dream by taking a real summer vacation this year?
Lisa Powell Graham
Books to inspire your travel dreams:
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.