As some of you know, my husband Thom and I took a road trip in July. As usual, we were seeking a way to avoid the summer heat in the desert that we call home. As planned, we figured that a road trip to the Pacific Northwest just might be a great solution for part of that time. It was. Not only was the weather spectacular, we also met with family in Seattle, old friends in Kelowna, B.C., as well as a planned meetup with some of my friends who blog. With a little forethought and design we had a wonderful vacation. However, once we returned people continually questioned how it was possible to spend several months both traveling and renting out-of-town houses for over three months, while most people are stuck at home. And remember, we aren’t retired either. Our go-to answer is always, “Because we rightsized our life.”
Now I understand that not everyone loves to travel as much as we do. And some people have health or personal obligations that keep them close to home. But I think it is important to point out that if you have a strong desire to travel, yet only seem to find excuses not to do it, you may not have considered the benefits of rightsizing.
So how does rightsizing apply to vacations and travel? Of course, before I give you the elements that allow us to do that, it’s important to remember that rightsizing is as individual as you are. So what works for us may not work for you. Like most things in life, rightsizing requires trade-offs and compromise. Again, what is a good trade-off for me, might be a deal breaker for you. However, once you decide what is really, really, REALLY important to you and the quality of your life, only then can you begin to work to fulfill those things and eliminate the rest—that’s when you start living a rightsized life.
With that in mind, here is a list of the choices Thom and I’ve made during our lives in order to rightsize our travel and vacations.
- We gave up our large home with expensive amenities (pool, spa, large lot, prestigious neighborhood) and moved to a significantly smaller home which we were able to buy free and clear of a mortgage. We then worked to make that new home as low-expense and maintenance free as possible. Then we stay diligent about keeping our monthly living expenses low in order to spend it on things we love.
- We focused on occupations that gave us freedom to work from home and/or just about anywhere on the planet. This was actually more challenging than downsizing our home. This took years to develop, and required challenging choices and tradeoffs along the way, but we had a rightsized goal in mind and stuck with it. While we still work, we only do so if it fits with our life goals.
- Choose to make our income only one aspect of a good occupation. In other words, while some compromise was necessary, we kept our eye on the “quality” of our experiences rather than the amount of accumulation that money could buy. Do we make as much money as others in our occupation? Probably not. But I can almost guarantee we have lots more fun and freedom.
- Routinely make decisions to “feel good” rather than to “look good.” Good health is very important to both of us. But, instead of spending money on ways to make ourselves just look healthy or even attractive, we prefer to spend money on preventative medicine. We also value sleeping well, taking time to meditate and relax, exercise, eat healthy, spend time with friends and people we love, laugh, dance, and enjoy
life. But make no mistake, those all require targeted choices and tradeoffs.
- Make plans that allow our future to unfold in ways that we prefer. What’s the saying? “Some people spend more time planning their vacations than their lives?” So true. Instead, when you design a rightsized life you begin to know where, how and exactly a vacation fits (or doesn’t fit) into it. Sure there is some forethought and planning involved, but never at the expense of the other important values. And accept that it doesn’t happen overnight. It was my intention over 20 years ago to design ways to spend three or four months out of the heat. It’s only been the last couple of years that we’ve managed to do just that.
- During this trip we purposely planned to experience nature, see some interesting sites, do a little business, and spend time with family and friends. Mixing it up that way helped us to fully experience everything we wanted during that month. For us it was perfect—but rightsizing suggests that we each find and experience what brings us the most satisfaction and joy—and then make ongoing choices to do that!
- Live within your means. In other words, spend only what you can easily afford to spend. Sure it is sometimes tempting to stay in an expensive or exotic location. Or it’s also enticing to eat out every day or go to pricey restaurants. Yet we find it better to know in advance
what we can easily afford and then stick with it.
- Spend your time with people you care about and who care about you. Several times this summer we talked to people who were only visiting certain areas and people out of obligation—not care. That is not rightsized. When you value your time and yourself enough, you will realize that the moments of each day are precious and need to be cherished.
- Give up what others think about you or your life. This one hasn’t been easy for me. I like to be liked. But I am finally learning that I can’t
make anyone like me who doesn’t even know me, let alone appreciate who I am or what’s important to me. If you feel that someone doesn’t value you, then wishing them well while moving on is a very rightsized thing to do.
- Don’t try to do, see or have everything—go for the “wows!” I used to have a very severe case of FOMO (Fear-Of-Missing-Out). I was always afraid that I was missing an opportunity so I tried to cram every single thing I’d heard about into an overly packed schedule. That usually made Thom (and me!) tired and cranky. Finally, at one point, Thom said, “Enough. I only want to do the wows!” And you know what? Since that time I have started enjoying the moments right in front of me much more. Let’s face it, I can’t do everything. Instead I want to do what is right for me, right now. That’s rightsizing.
There are many more “tips” I can offer that we use to rightsize our travels and I’m tempted to do a “Part 2 Post” where I share some of my travel hacks (next week maybe?) But first know that unless your mind and spirit are focused on designing a life that is right for you, then all those details won’t increase your happiness, wellbeing, or make your trips better. The SMART approach is to settle down long enough to find out what really matters to you, and then rightsize your life along with your travel.