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Budget Vacation Hacks

Budget Vacation Hacks

Here are a few hacks and tips for getting yourself ready for vacations. Some deal with money. Others deal with planning. They all hopefully add up to ways you might get more fun and comfort out of your next vacation:

  • Save Change and Coffee Money– Make it a project to raise jars of money for vacations. One trick is to always pocket your change from purchases and only buy using bills. That way, the coins add up. Put these in a savings jar at home. Have your family contribute, too. Also, consider buying a jar of instant coffee or brewing coffee at home for one or two days a week. Throw the $3 or so you save (and count the bagel or muffin you normally get) into the jar.
  • Yard Sale Money– While we’re saving, I mentioned clearing out your house a few posts ago. Try having a Yard Sale for some of your stuff, and using eBay for the better items. Get the whole family in on the gig. Throw that money into the jars, too.
  • Cut Back and Invest– Last one about saving money, but consider cutting back on the services and niceties you pay for, and putting the exact amount into the jars. Swap your $100 dinner out for a deli sandwich, your deli sandwich for something at home. Go oldschool college and eat ramen noodles or mac and cheese, banking the savings. These will add up fast.
  • Pick an Inexpensive Destination– Our reasons for vacationing are personal and unique. Some folks crave adventure. Others like to reconnect with the family. Most of us want to relax. Whatever your mindset, closely examine what you really want, and determine what are the “must have” things to make that happen. For instance, if you want to reconnect to the family, why not a short distance drive to a tenting site for a camp vacation? If you want adventure, consider choosing human-powered events like bicycling trips or kayaking over powered adventures like motorcycles and power boats (fuel prices being what they are). For relaxation, is it really the scenery that relaxes you? Or is it peace, tranquility, good food, and ease-of-experience? You might find ways to save by doing something closer to home.
  • Alternative Accomodations– I mentioned tent camping. There are other alternative ways to cut costs around the part of the vacation where people usually overspend: a place to sleep. When you consider the overall goals of your holiday, do you want the best possible bed in the brightest, most updated hotel in the area? Or do you want to experience as much of your destination as possible? Look for bed and breakfast lodging, budget motels (travel like a rock band), friends to visit along the way, and any other way you can minimize the actual cost of a place to rest your weary head. Pocket the money you save for that hiking tour of the seaside.
  • Share a Vacation– Coordinated travel can be okay, or it can be a pain. If you’re up for dealing with other people’s quirks, consider sharing the expenses on a vacation with another couple or family. You can then take advange in some areas, like sharing a house instead of hotel rooms, splitting grocery money to cut down on eating out. Oh, that’s one.
  • Stock up on Food– One cost inflater on vacations is food. You might be out somewhere in a tourist area and just have a little rumbly in your tumbly, and a quick stop into a local eatery later, you’ve spent $70 for the four or five of you. Keep energy bars, cereal bars, dried fruits, apples, nuts or trail mix, bottled water, and other portable, not-entirely-perishable items in your backpack for when you need just a little something between meals. This also helps with your diet needs (as food in such areas is often high fat, high calorie) as well as your budget.
  • Plan Experiences not Activities– One thing that happens on vacations is we get a “collector’s mentality.” We decide to hit “all the” ______. In Orlando, Florida in the US, you hit all the Disney Parks, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, etc. Why? Because you won’t be back for a while and you have to hit them all, right? Not really true. Really consider your needs and wants for a vacation, and plan experiences to match. Do you love rock climbing? Plan a day with some smaller challenges, and then a really landmark challenge on another day. Make some time for getting together with local climbers for a dinner. This kind of experience-based planning helps you save cash and time and instead focus on the quality of what you’re trying to accomplish with your vacation.

There are many parts of our life where we roll along without much questioning why, how, and what we’re doing, and vacations seems to be a perfect target. Often, we go on vacations because we have to, because we hear about a friend’s enjoyable time somewhere, or because we’re just beat and need the change of scenery. In all parts of life, staying mindful to the actual intent of what we’re doing makes a big difference in how we do it.

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What else? How can YOU add to these tips and hacks?

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–Chris Brogan hasn’t yet scheduled a vacation for the next several months. When he does, it will be spent creating content for GrasshopperFactory , as well as writing on [chrisbrogan.com] . Right now, he’s hard at work with Episode 2 of the Life Hack Podcast.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic

When you become an early riser, you’ll experience a lot of benefits including feeling more energized and having more time to do what you want.

If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

So how to become an early riser?

Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

1. Choose to Get up Before You Go to Sleep

You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

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No more!

If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before.

Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually, your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

2. Have a Plan for Your Extra Time

Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day?

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If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed.

You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

3. Make Rising Early a Social Activity

Your internet or social media buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am?

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The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

4. Don’t Use an Alarm That Makes You Angry

If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning?

I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

5. Get Your Blood Flowing Right After Waking

If you don’t have a neighbor, you can pick fights with at 5am, you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head.

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Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

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Featured photo credit: Nomadic Julien via unsplash.com

Reference

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