Planning the Perfect Mini-Vacation

 

20171007_175451We started doing mini-vacations years ago while on a farm because it was easier to find someone to watch animals for one or two nights than for a week or more.  Longer vacations require time off of work, loss of pay, and are often quite exhausting.  Now don’t get me wrong, I will take a week long vacation if it’s offered!  A weekend away is often perfect to refresh the spirit, spend time with loved ones, and to relax.  It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive either to get the crew together.

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1) First, choose who you want to share your mini-vacation with.  We could have spent a weekend at Ojo Caliente, a lovely hot springs spa in New Mexico.  We could have jumped on a plane and visited one of our friends out of state.  But what I really wanted was a family vacation.

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2)  Look at schedules.  We typically like to go on trips during the week.  The prices are often cheaper and there are less crowds.  But, Doug’s job is an hourly paying one these days and we can’t afford to miss that much.  Don’t wait too long though.  Just book the time and everyone will figure out what they can do.

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3) Book a place using Air B&B or a place similar if you need multiple rooms.  Go to a Dude Ranch.  There are many fun things you can do.  I booked a four bedroom house in the mountains only a few minutes out of town.  It was pretty central for all of us.  We were able to bring one of our granddogs.  There was a stocked kitchen and plenty of towels and comfy seating.  It had amazing views, porches, and was a beautiful respite.  Everyone came when they could Friday.

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4) Drop all expectations.  Some folks won’t be able to make it.  I know I tend to micromanage everything but this time I was going to let everything unfold!  Have a basic plan.  Looking at the weather we decided that visiting the North Pole in Cascade would be best on Saturday.  We all brought up different games, books, and things to do.  My son, Andy, and his girlfriend couldn’t get off work and then had a wedding to go to Saturday.  In the end the only thing they could do was meet us for lunch in Manitou Sunday.  And it was great.  It was fun having all nine of us.

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5) Prepare meals.  Each couple chose a meal they would prepare.  This saves a lot of money and time not having to find restaurants three times a day.  Doug and I made breakfasts.  Shyanne and Jacob made a mouthwatering linguine alfredo with breadsticks.  Emily and Reed made a comforting cheesy broccoli soup and croissants.  We all brought up plenty of drinks.  Shyanne surprised us all with caramel apple fixings.

20171007_17300120171007_2047356) Be in the moment.  We laughed while we played games.  We took turns snuggling the puppy.  Took little walks.  Drank coffee together on the balcony.  Did some yoga.  Listened to music.  Talked.  Caught up.  Walked the row of stores.  Played together.

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The key word here is “together”.  It was a perfect vacation.  I hope you will plan one for your own people soon.

Funding and Getting the Life You Want

What is your dream life?  To live in a high rise apartment with a balcony of plants?  To live in a suburb surrounded by like-minded families?  To live in the country?  Life is really short.  Scarily so.  And in these fleeting moments, where do you want to wake up and spend your moments?  Where can you breathe?

What is your dream job?  A sleek 9-5 with all the perks?  Teaching or nursing?  Are you happy in the job you are in?  Perhaps you are retired or a housewife and you have money coming into the household.  There are always ways to make money.  May as well do something you love in order to make it.

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Change can be scary when we can’t see a clear path, but it always leads somewhere, and when following a dream, it tends to lead straight to that dream!  You don’t need a lot of money to follow a dream.  If it is meant to be, any money needed will show up just in the nick of time.

Now, how are we going to spend our money?  I have told you the story of our fancy living.  Our expensive mortgage, two car payments, upstanding jobs (where we were easily replaced….no job should take up so much space in your life) and our seemingly upscale lifestyle.  Cruises, expensive dinners, really bored kids.

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When we left it all, we were hanging on to an idea, a dream, and it played out before our eyes.  The house coming up for rent, the shop coming up for rent, the farmer’s markets being fantastic.  But that is just house and finances (granted, while helping people along the way).  How do we want to spend our money?  How do we want to live our life?

We go on more little trips and mini-vacations than anyone we know.  We have this split personality where we want to be homebodies and farm and live a simple life….while traveling.  Actually, we don’t want to travel all the time, but we have found solace and renewal in overnight or two stays throughout the year.

We barter for stays at a Bed and Breakfast in Boulder Canyon.  We go to the hot springs for the day in Idaho Springs.  We go to holiday festivals.  We stay a few days in Colorado Springs (45 minutes away).  We play hard, we work hard, we rest hard.  How do we pay for it?

We don’t have smart phones, Iphones, tremendously fast internet (Not that we could out here anyway!), a ton of cable channels, or data on our phones.  Our phones are cheap, off Ebay, and do the trick.  They call out and usually accept calls coming in.  (Now, of course, if it were up to me, we’d have even less….compromise is important in a marriage though.)  With the money that almost everyone we know uses on these seemingly necessary objects, we visit new places.

You can live big on just a little by deciding what is important and what is not.  We don’t buy a lot of new clothes and if we do they are Walmart specials, thrift store, or on sale.  We have over 500,000 miles between our two cars.  (I should probably start budgeting for a new truck.)  We don’t have car payments.  We live in a community where my rent seems like a lot, but it is nearly half of what we were paying in the suburbs.  We provide our own health insurance in the form of herbal medicines.

When we eat out, it is at the nicest restaurants.  We go to bed and breakfasts.  We play.  We have a modest emergency fund, clothes, a roof over our heads, a lot of food preserved for winter, and lots of memories.

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We took Bret, Emily and little Maryjane up to Manitou Springs overnight Monday.  It was their second anniversary.  We stayed at a very old, and beautiful bed and breakfast.  We took Maryjane to meet Santa at the North Pole.  We treated the kids to fondue at a restaurant voted the most romantic.  We made memories as a family.  We made our bond that much stronger and had a nice 24 hour rest.

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Last weekend we took our daughters Shyanne and Emily as well as Bret and Maryjane to the pumpkin festival we attend each year.  We missed our son who was not able to attend for the first time, but we continued to make some memories, build a scarecrow, and had a few breakdowns as well as triumphs, just like when they were little.

In a few weeks we will be in California visiting our friends, staying in their home, cooking fresh meals, enjoying real seafood, and touring wineries.  Cheap airfare, generous friends sharing their home, and saving a little extra instead of spending it on other things will provide a five day memory making trip.

How do you want to live?  Where?  Doing what?  With whom?  Now is the time to take action and make your dreams come true.  Live how you want!

(Our journey has not come to a stand still.  Our shop has closed, our classes have picked up, we want that larger farm where we have no town restrictions and can homestead how we want!  We are still working and dreaming towards that…)