“What are you doing this 3-day weekend? Anything special?”
“Oh you know, just need to tidy up around the house, run some errands. Maybe see a movie or something.”
“How about going to Nashville on a 3-day weekend? Or a roadtrip? Or take an all-night bus to a new state you haven’t been to before?”
“Wish I could, but there’s no time for that and it’s expensive and, besides, I need to clean up the house and everything. Catch up on Netflix, things like that.”
Have you ever been in an exchange like this, or know anyone who has? Of course you have, because this happens every time there is a 3-day weekend on the calendar (there is one coming up tomorrow, Veterans Day). People do tremendously exciting things like going to Home Depot for some nails, shouting at the TV every time your football team fumbles or messes up (mine is Florida State, so I know the feeling), or do a grocery run at Costco which somehow ends up with a new mahogany cutting board, or a massage at your favorite parlor. This is what people do on most weekends, and that’s fine for the most part, but then some of them (I was one of them) complain that they never get time off to do fun things, or that they only get two weeks of vacation and that’s only enough for one or two trips. For those of us that are lucky enough to get weekends off, think of the tremendous amount of time that is available to you, even if you only get one or two weeks of vacation from your surly employer?
Well…I’m here to say that we, full-time job holders and all-around Busy People, should stop thinking of vacation as a once-or-twice-a-year trip to see family or visit Mexico or Canada or maybe Europe. How about we expand our horizons a bit and include our weekends as vacations?
The Weekend Vacation Hypothesis
There are 104 weekend days (from 52 weeks) as well as 10 official U.S. Holidays:
- New Year’s Day – January 1
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Third Monday of January
- President’s Day – Third Monday of February
- Memorial Day – Last Monday of May
- Fireworks Day (jk, it’s actually Independence Day) – July 4
- Labor Day – First Monday of September
- Columbus Day – Second Monday of October
- Veterans Day – Second Friday November
- Thanksgiving – Last Thursday of November
- Christmas – December 25
Let’s assume that everyone visits family on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fine. What does that give us, in total, every year?
- Eight 3-day weekends
- 34 2-day weekends
In other words, we can potentially do 42 “mini-vacations” every single year. 42.
Think about that number. Of course, most people won’t do even 20 or 10, but that is the Upper Limit, if you will, of what can be possibly done. You can scoff at it, but the point is that we need to expand the limits of what we think is possible. Change the mindset from, “I only get 10 vacation days” to “I get 94 vacation days (10 from your company + 84 mini-vacation days).” That is a major shift in what is possible.
Friday Afternoon-Monday Morning Trip – The 3-Day Weekender
This is one of the best, easiest trips you can do. Why? Because if you do this, you:
- Don’t miss any work.
- Have a blast wherever you go
- It won’t cost you more than a fancy dinner that you had planned or those cabinets you wanted to upgrade
- Feels like a real vacation
If you want to fly, there are discount airlines everywhere these days, with great deals every month. Earlier this year in July, me and Ruby flew Friday evening from Jacksonville Airport (30 minutes from our house) to Asheville, North Carolina, famous for the nearby Smoky Mountains and the birthplace of the great Southern writer Thomas Wolfe (not to be confused with Bonfire of the Vanities Tom Wolfe). We explored the area for two days and then flew back Monday morning. We got off the plane, got into our car at the airport, and drove straight to work. Tired, yes, but re-energized after a great weekend away. You may think, “Yeah, but that’s not cheap.” Well, it was not a free trip, but we saved money by getting a very cheap deal with Allegiant Airlines (I think it was $80 roundtrip). We used our Hyatt points to get a free hotel night on Friday to Sunday night and didn’t spend crazy money on food. The entire trip cost maybe $350 for two people.
Still sounds like a lot? Let’s look at some expenditures made by an average American. The Average U.S. Household spends about $6.6K per year on food, which includes food at home and eating out. The eating out portion is $2.6K. That is a lot of money being spent on going out for food. So let’s halve that number, $2.6K into $1.3K ($100 per month instead of $200 per month), and put that towards our mini-vacations. How many of those can we afford with $1.3K?
It turns out we can do three mini-vacations with that extra money, for 2 people. The question you have to ask yourself is: is that Friday and Saturday night dinner at Carrabba’s really going to be more fun than three 3-day weekend trips to new destinations? And by the way, I love Carrabba’s, I’ve eaten there many times, but the question is one of allocation. We allocate Money and Time to things that make us happy. Instead of taking your wife to Carrabba’s as a respite from a long and tiring week at work (trust me, I’ve been there), how about taking her on a roadtrip? Go shack up in a cabin for two days, or visit the beach, or go to a national park.
Let’s re-think how we treat Money and Time: they’re your friends, and while you can always earn more money, you can’t always earn more time.
For those of us who work full-time and are fortunate enough to have weekends off, we have many opportunities for travel and adventure outside of the typical 10-15 days that are given to us by our employers. By utilizing 2 and 3-day weekends and cutting back on other expenses, you will be able to increase your travels without spending extra money. Consider weekend vacations as an expansion of your vacation policy and you’ll be far more energized coming back to work on dreaded Mondays!