My husband Thom and I love to travel almost as much as we enjoy rightsizing. But the two ideas are not mutually exclusive. In fact, because we rightsized our lives some years ago, we can now travel more and in better form than ever before. So, if you’ve always dreamed of traveling more, but never seem to have the time or money, perhaps what you need is to rightsize your next trip.
First, I must recommend that you rightsize your entire life. What do I mean by that? If you are new to this website and unfamiliar with rightsizing, here’s a short definition: Rightsizing is taking the time to focus on what really matters to you and brings you happiness—and at the same time reducing and then eliminating everything that brings you down and sucks the joy out of you.
Many people start on the rightsizing journey by getting rid of superfluous stuff. Sometimes getting rid of what you don’t want (or need) is easier than trying to figure out what you do want. A big part of it is usually debt—a car with big payments, a house larger than you need with a stressful mortgage, and buying habits that keep you working at a job you dislike just to pay for those items. For example, when Thom and I moved from a large expensive home into a more modest one, we saved over $30,000 a year. Then as people gradually say “No!” to the things that bring only temporary happiness, they can then begin focusing on those things that bring peace, contentment and wonderful memories. Slowly but steadily they rightsize.
Of course, in case you can’t tell, rightsizing is an individual path. That’s because what brings me peace, contentment and wonderful memories is likely very different from what does the same for you. Still, one of the biggest issues to watch out for is making sure it is something you personally love, and not something that you’re doing habitually or unconsciously striving to do or have just because your neighbors or society says you should want them.
How we approach travel and vacations are similarly individual to each of us. With that in mind, here are my top five suggestions for rightsizing your next trip or vacation:
#1 Avoid going on any trip or vacation if you don’t have the money. Like so much behind rightsizing, going into debt to buy anything when you really can’t afford it is madness. I learned the hard way that the payback is hell. Even when you have a great a vacation, coming back to the debt that will take months (sometimes years) to pay for, robs you of your present moment. Living happily and peacefully in the present moment is a key to rightsizing
What you might want to explore is a way to experience travel that doesn’t cost much. Visit friends or family that you enjoy being with and can put you up. Drive, don’t fly. For some years the only thing Thom and I could afford was to rent an inexpensive cabin in the mountains. Remember I said inexpensive. Because the cabin was only an hour away, we could enjoy the mountains and still commute to work. Best of all, the cost of the cabin was a fraction of what others spend by taking a two-week vacation.
#2 Attempt to discover what kind of traveler you are as soon as possible. Back when I was younger, I so wanted to travel that I would say “Yes!” to just about anything. That’s when I learned that I’m NOT a camper. I’m also not an RV person. Now I realize that some people (my parents were a great example) love the experience of getting in the motorhome and traveling with friends. It wasn’t so much the idea of going to a new place; they mostly enjoyed the camaraderie of putting their RV rigs in a circle, and then socializing, eating and playing games with friends in a community.
Some people absolutely adore going on cruises. We know people who have been on over 50 cruises in their lifetime and hope to cram as many more as they can into their lives. It sometimes doesn’t even matter where they go; they love being pampered, fed and entertained as they while away their leisure time.
Other friends prefer to go on tour groups. They find it fun and relaxing not to worry about where they will be sleeping, where they will be eating, or figuring out what it takes to get there. That type of travel suits them just fine, and the thought of renting a car or making their own arrangements is not appealing.
Others like Thom and I, are very independent travelers. I spend months figuring out where I want to go and then plan most of the details myself. We typically rent an apartment in a couple of different places. We also either rent a car or figure out all the public transportation options. We primarily travel by ourselves so that we can select where, when and how we go from place to place.
Rightsizing continually reminds us that we are all different. Finding what makes each of us happy and satisfied is not only the journey but the point of rightsizing. All travel and vacations cost money, so when we take the time to figure out what it is that brings us the most joy in advance, we maximize both our money and our time.
#3 Know your traveling style. As I mentioned above, Thom and I are very independent when it comes to travel. But I’m aware that not everyone else finds that as desirable. One of my sisters likes to travel as a group. The more the merrier is her motto. I also have a couple of women friends who prefer to travel alone. They find that when they strike out as a single, they can go where they want, when they want, without having to take anyone else’s needs or wants into account. Again, it all depends on what makes us most content.
Rightsizing also recommends that once you find out how and with whom you like to travel, that you make sure you are compatible with those on the trip. A good friend of ours went on a trip to Vietnam with another couple. The other couple liked to do everything first-class and fortunately had the money to do it. Unfortunately, our friends not only didn’t have the same finances, but they also didn’t really care to pay top dollar for every experience they encountered. Neither was happy.
#4 Learn to pace yourself to maximize your travel. I learned this one the hard way. When we were younger, anytime I was able to travel anywhere I attempted to cram as much as possible into the available hours. Not only did I exhaust myself, but I was so busy running from place to place that I missed half of the experience. Fortunately, as I’ve matured, and with Thom’s help, I’ve learned to slow down, take the time to enjoy the now of the location, and remember it is the experience. As our friend Mohammed Famey said during our recent trip to Egypt, “Don’t make your travel a checklist where you go from site to site saying to yourself, check, check, check. Rather, pause and be present in the moment.” Rightsized travel is not a contest where the person with the most locations wins. Instead, it is the person who manages to enjoy and then remember each moment in the now.
#5 Research and psychological studies have uncovered different ways we determine the memory, value, and enjoyment of our vacations. They are:
- What we will remember from any trip is a couple of the peak moments and especially how it ends. I recommend planning a couple of “Wow!” experiences along the way plus a “highlight” at the end. That way you’ll always remember it fondly.
- People who spend time planning and anticipating their vacations in advance usually hold on to more intense and satisfying memories than those who simply remember their vacation after they return.
- Because the anticipation of a trip often brings as much (if not more) pleasure than the journey itself, longer vacations are not as important as frequency.
- After it is all said and done, most of us end up with the “rosy view” of vacations. Precisely because most people tend to believe in advance that a vacation is supposed to be enjoyable, what people usually remember is a “rosy view” of the experience regardless of what occurs.
- If following your trip you immediately plunge yourself back into worry, catch-up mode, or debt, you can negate the positive advantages of your vacation.
- Having autonomy on a trip increases its benefits. Being able to get up in the morning when you want and control the events of the day, allows you to feel better about your travel.
- Learning or pursuing new experiences will also help to heighten positive memories of the trip.
Because rightsizing is such an individual experience, it’s likely many more ways exist that would help us choose the type of experience that will bring us the greatest pleasure. As usual, the SMART approach is to take the time to think them through in advance and then stay true to a happy, meaningful and peaceful experience, 365.
Question: What about you? Do you have any “rightsized” ideas that you use to plan and then enjoy your travel? Please share in the comments below.