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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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Published on July 15, 2019

10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

10 Simple Strategies to Make Your Life Better Starting Today

Habits are an important part of the direction you take your life, and — as I’ll share with you shortly — there are certain daily habits you can adopt right away that are guaranteed to improve your life.

Think back to when you were just six or seven years old…

At that age you probably didn’t have many habits. But, as the years went by, you picked up more and more good and bad habits.

You may not have thought about it before, but habit forming never really stops.

That’s why it’s never too late to change your habits and transform your life.

So, if you feel burdened by your bad habits, start kicking them into shape by replacing them with these 10 positive, life-changing strategies:

1. Go to Bed a Little Earlier and Wake up Earlier 

Starting tonight, get yourself to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. And, then make sure you get up tomorrow morning 30 minutes earlier, too. This small change can have a BIG impact on your day. 

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Instead of furiously rushing in the morning to get ready for work, the extra time will give you a golden opportunity to start your day off on the right note. You can drink a smoothie while sitting on your porch, spend 10 minutes exercising and stretching, and still have time to read a few pages of an inspiring book.

2. Be Grateful for the Good Things in Your Life 

Setbacks and obstacles are inevitable in life. But, with a positive mindset, you’ll be able to overcome most of these. And, when you do, you’ll boost your self-confidence. 

This is something you can definitely be grateful for. 

However, if worst-case scenarios are playing out in your life, then sometimes, to stay strong, you’ll need to keep your mind on the good things that are happening to you. For example, your relationship with your partner might be crumbling, but your career is continuously getting stronger. It’d be easy to feel downtrodden and miserable about your relationship problems —  but, it would be much healthier to keep your mind and gratitude on these things that are going well, such as your career.

3. Drink Water All Day Every Day 

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice of drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, but are you following that advice? If not, you’re robbing your body and mind of essential hydration. 

With the right amount of water intake a day, you’ll be amazed how good you feel — and how good you look!

4. Take 15 Minutes to Set Goals for the Day, and Then Tackle Them One by One 

This strategy will put your life into a new stratosphere! And, it’s very simple to do. 

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Simply spend 15 minutes in the morning (either at home or at work) planning what you need and want to achieve during the rest of the day. Once you’ve listed your tasks, the next step is to put them into order of priority. 

For instance, you have three things to do: catch up with your emails, write a project update, and prepare a briefing for your CEO. It’s best if you put these in order of importance. In this example, your emails can probably wait until you’ve created your CEO brief and updated your project documentation.

5. Turn Off Your Cell Phone (or Put it on Airplane Mode) When You’re Focusing 

A 2012 study found that even looking at a cell phone or feeling it vibrate in your pocket can significantly distract focus and reduce your ability to complete complex tasks.[1]

It’s no surprise really, as our thoughts are subconsciously drawn towards checking our phones when they’re switched on. It’s a bad habit — but one that most of us have. However, when you need 100% focus (like I do when writing my articles), then switching your phone off, or at least putting it into airplane mode, will free your mind and supercharge your focus. Try it and see!

6. Walk as Much as You Can 

Have you noticed that most people’s lives are sedentary? They drive to work, sit in front of a screen all day, then drive home and binge on the latest Netflix series. It’s no wonder there’s a growing epidemic of obesity and mental health issues. 

Our bodies are made to move — so we should move them! This can be as simple as walking up the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator, and going out for a walk around the block at lunchtime. In the evening, instead of arriving home and crashing on the sofa; spend 20 to 30 minutes walking around your block.

When you make these things a habit, you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel. You’ll have less stress — and more energy.

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7. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

How often do you stop, think and appreciate the “here and now”? I’m guessing not very often. But, I understand why. Modern life is demanding and fast-paced. There’s precious little time to appreciate the small things. 

But, if you want to live a healthy and happy life, you must break out of this trap. You can do this by allocating 15 to 30 minutes each day for mindful meditation. This could be in a park, in your garden, or even in your lounge. The trick is to focus 100% on your surroundings. 

For example, if you’re outside, watch how the leaves on the trees blow around in the wind. By keeping your focus on this movement, you’ll clear your mind from your usual stresses and strains. This will give you brain a much-needed break. And, as well as improving your mental health; you’ll find your creativity gets a boost, too.

8. Ask for Help When You Need It 

No one can know or do everything. Which is why you shouldn’t be embarrassed to delegate tasks to others when needed, ask questions when you don’t have the answers, and work with partners and colleagues to clarify intentions. 

When I first set up Lifehack, I tried to do everything myself: blog writing, website creation, marketing, financial planning, etc. However, I quickly learned that it was much better to hire some help. Not only did this inject some fresh ideas and inspiration into Lifehack — it also made the whole operation way more enjoyable!

9. Practice Self Care 

Are you looking after yourself as well as you should? If not, then take steps to improve your diet, exercise more, and to speak to yourself with encouraging words and thoughts. 

The latter suggestion is often overlooked. But how you speak to yourself determines how you feel, what you believe, and what you achieve.

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10. Embrace Learning 

You cannot transform your life without learning something new. That’s because the process of change forces you to adapt. But, many people stop learning as they get older, as they find the learning process boring and bothersome. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be fun and rewarding. 

Whether you decide to learn to play guitar or study the basics of accounting — embrace learning, and begin changing your world for the better.

I’m sure you’ll agree that these 10 strategies are simple enough for you to start putting them into action in your life. (I suggest you begin today!) 

Nevertheless, you’ll probably need to use some extra willpower for the first 30 days or so, as this is the typical length of time it takes to create a new habit. After that, these strategies will be part of your day-to-day life, and you won’t need to think about having to do them. In other words, they’ll have become habitual actions.

If you need any further encouragement to get started with the 10 strategies, then consider this:

Even just adopting one of the strategies can turn the tide in your favor. But, when you implement all 10, you’ll create an unstoppable trend towards success, health and happiness.

So start making your life better — today!

Featured photo credit: Javier Garcia via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Deborah R. Tindell and Robert W. Bohlander, Wilkes University: The Use and Abuse of Cell Phones and Text Messaging in the Classroom: A Survey of College Students

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