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You Deserve More than a 1-Week Vacation

The very first time I planned a 10-day semi-vacation away from my home office, my business partner just about flipped out.

‘No one takes 10-day vacations!
I’ve never taken more than a week at a time!’

That was back in 2002, I was in my late 20s and I was off to the big island of Hawaii for some much needed downtime after an eventful year.

Cherie goes to Hawaii in 2002

Cherie goes to Hawaii in 2002.. yup, that time I tried blonde.

My divorce to my first husband was finalized, I had just spent several intense weeks helping the family of a friend after she was killed in a car accident and my mother had just battled breast cancer.

I can credit these events with catalyzing change in me due to increased awareness of how precious and short life can be.

My business partner? He was also my father and one of my closest friends.

He had instilled in me the joys of entrepreneurship and designing your own life. We worked from our respective close-by homes writing code, supporting our clients, taking mid afternoon beach breaks and having a pretty good amount of flexibility in our day.

We had a pretty sweet setup.

So his reaction to my wanting to take a little more than normal downtime hit me like a ton of bricks. I had expected him to be supportive, not disappointed.

There was something in his upbringings that had been so deeply ingrained that more than a week away from the office was irresponsible.

One estimate of vacation time per year.

One estimate of vacation time per year from the World Tourism Organization.

That ‘work until you’re dead’ culture is ingrained all over corporate America.

We have some of the shortest vacation & personal time allowances of most any other developed country in the world.

Taking more than a week’s vacation at a time is viewed as indulgent, selfish and not being loyal to the company. Some go years without taking any more time off than a long weekend.

Vacation time in the United States is frowned upon – whereas in other cultures, it’s encouraged.

I went on that trip to Hawaii anyway, with my heart carrying his guilt across the ocean with me.

Volcano National Park

Volcano National Park

I walked on active volcanic fields, swam in the ocean naked with dolphins and dove with sea turtles. The powers of Pele instilled me with confidence to come back and not just speak my truth.. but live my truth.

I wanted more to life than fitting in week long vacations once or twice a year. I inherited strong wanderlust from my dad, and I wasn’t going to suppress it.

My father and I had a tearful heart to heart conversation upon my return that positively impacted us both for years to come.

I started integrating in a lot more personal travel, while working remotely. And my father came around to see that travel didn’t have to be synonymous with being non-productive.

I was in the perfect place in my life in 2006 to meet and join new-to-the-road nomad Chris.

But working remotely isn’t the same as vacation.

Heck, sometimes traveling full time and trying to work remotely is even more stressful. We certainly get our own life/work balance out of whack way too often.

It’s not necessarily the travel, but my own inner fight against perceived expectations.

These past couple of years I’ve worked through a lot of grief since my father’s passing. It’s a natural thing, of course – the best case scenario in this timeline of life is to have our parents pass before us.

Deep contemplations in Hawaii.

Deep contemplations in Hawaii – this trip changed everything for me.

While I knew I really needed an extended sabbatical after shutting down the business we ran together – I instead (unconsciously) hid from the grief by falling into work-a-holism.

We got tempted into big projects and working non-stop. Surely if I created enough, my father would be proud and I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of missing him.

Last year the pace became unsustainable. I had to face the grief that was now bubbling over into everything.

I was blessed to have a supportive partner and dear friends who held me through it.

My biggest learning curve has been embracing that true approval comes from within – not from society, clients, followers, family or even loved ones.

Taking a 7-week semi-vacation this summer was a big part of my healing process. When planing it, I kept waiting for those old disapproving voices.

approvedBut who’s voice? I was the only one who could stamp ‘Approved’ on the vacation request.

In my heart I know I embarked on this summer’s journey with my dad’s blessing, and I felt it every step of the way.

I so wish he would have been able to realize that freedom to travel more himself. He left this world just months after finally letting himself reach retirement, but without the health to enjoy it.

  • Life is short.
  • This isn’t a dress rehearsal.
  • Live your dash.
  • No one lies on their death bed wishing they had worked more.
  • Yadda yadda yadda.

We hear these words all of the time, but how often do we really listen to them?

Especially as I get older, a week just seems shorter and shorter. I can’t imagine going back to a lifestyle where a week off at a time is as good as it gets.

The rewards for making choices in your life to support your desires.. priceless.

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65 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Great life respective. After a life changing event for myself, I always take my birthday off so that I can reflect on where I have been and where things are going. So feel free to use my birhday rule– take your special day off. And if your birthday falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you get to celebrate the whole weekend [and a Sunday birthday lets you have Monday off also]
    Safe Travels
    Regina

  2. Your words about your learning curve really hit home. I’m still doubting my decision to go full time RV in the next few months because I want approval from family. I need to live my life on my terms, not doing what everyone else expects of me. Thanks for that wonderful perspective.

  3. I love this story of this time in your life. My wife and I are planning on going full time next year. Both sides of our parents have past and the kid are on there own and now it is time to give ourself permission to move on with the rest of our dream. We have to keep finding a way to pay our way though it but though some great ideas that we have gotten from you guy we will be ok. Please keep up your great work we love following you guys. Thanks

  4. Unfortunately some people are just so very narrow minded.
    I read that article, and your website and your articles are some of the things that encouraged me to start saving for my upcoming trip. It’s Good for Avoid Stressful life and do something different. At last Success is moment or experience not money.

  5. I just happened to be reading through and catching up on the TM blog and I’m reading this today at exactly the right time in my life. Two of my best friends moved to Costa Rica almost a year ago, making their dream come true at middle age. I was left wondering what the heck I was doing just maintaining an existence. Since then I’ve been paying off debt, learning some big lessons, and getting more and more itchy to start really living. I’m in my mid twenties now, and I don’t want to wait for the kick in the butt in the form of a traumatic event or getting to a certain age and realizing what I missed. Lately I’ve been reflecting a lot on my life (last night especially). There’s a lot that I would do differently. It’s time to start living a life I’m truly happy with and proud of. Thank you for sharing your story and keeping me motivated to be unstuck and really live life!

  6. Just read your post Cherie, thank you for sharing your heart and feelings. I understand the guilt you have felt. For 30+ years I never took all the vacation days I earned and the days I did take I felt that “Guilt” The last 7-8 years that I was working I owned my own business and never took a single vacation! Crazy! At this point in life I am retired and my husband and I are downsizing and looking at buses!! Full-timing is calling!! Thanks to you and Chris and all your wonderful information, that I follow all the time, we know this is what we want to do. We have been thinking of buying one for years, but until I found you guys I was afraid. You guys give us the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ……thank you for that! You have helped so many people out here and you deserve a Fabulous life.

  7. That was a wonderful post! And I agree, we dont spend enough time on ourselves or our families. This society has this, “hamster in wheel” mentality. Being from a mortgage broker background and knowing about “money”, its true, its all set up where you just work your tail off for what? A box with some windows, 2 doors and a bit of yard. But you dont really own it cause once its paid off the land taxes go higher, so your really paying rent. For most people that was their hope, their retirement – the house prices would go up and up and then sell and there’s your retirement money. Not so now a days. Its a trap as far as I am concerned. I am so inspired by you guys!!! Your teaching us a new lifestyle. And I see its not always easy.

  8. Cherie, just read this article to Marc while driving to Maine and we both loved it. Really great message that has clearly inspired many (I enjoyed reading the comments too… So many touching stories) and yes this is absolutely the right space to share such thoughts and feelings. To quote Marianne Williamson “allowing your own light to shine gives others permission to do the same.”

    Being an Australian and former workaholic who is used to 4 weeks of paid vacation per year plus 8 days sick leave And a healthy number of public holidays, it was quite a shock to move to the USA in 2008 and witness the unhealthy, driven, guilt-laden “work ethic” that is so prevalent in this culture. Because they do not know any different, it is difficult for most Americans to realize or appreciate the benefits of healthy work life balance and taking time off. Yes… Sorry to tell you all.. But the company, country, world will go on without you..: so may as well enjoy life, take vacations, find a way to create your own work life balance (or mobile lifestyle).

    Anyway, just wanted to add to the list of “bravo” comments and let you know it was enjoyed and appreciated… The world need more of this. So glad you were able to dig deep and identify your workload was burying your grief and you were able to get in touch with and heal it in Alaska. It’s a beautiful story.

    Hugs to you both, Julie and Marc

  9. Aloha Cherie and Chris,
    I started reading your advice several years ago about going full time. My plan was to travel in the western parts of the US, picking up chef jobs and wait for something to happen. I went as far as getting a “practice” class B and was looking at potential employment at the Grand Tetons hotel near Jackson.I would read your hints and then take the practice rig out for various periods of time in various situations, trying to decide if I actually could live in a van.
    Then one afternoon I stumbled upon the retreat I am working at on the Big Island currently. Hummmmm….Hawai’i? Think I could put pontoons on the old rig?
    That was two years ago and although I cannot rule out a return to the mainland for some full timing…I am loving the Big Island. Maybe some of the pictures will bring back memories to you. However I still follow your travels.
    Mahalo,
    Chef Ted

  10. Well said. You and Chris work really hard so should never feel guilty when unplugging and taking an extended break.

    • Thanks for that.. sometimes while we know we shouldn’t feel guilty, that doesn’t stop the second guessing. Overall, we did really good on this trip not feeling an ounce of guilt. 🙂

  11. Cherie, we owned a small sales company with 5 employees for 25 years. We enjoyed our work and had the same attitude about vacation time. Over the 25 years, we took 3 vacations 3 weeks long. The rest were one week or long weekends. Our plan to retire at 55 was postponed in 2001 but we were able to retire in 2007 at age 62. We have been like kids ever since. Having the time of our life, traveling, trying new things, meeting new people from all walks of life.
    Enjoy your life. Live it as YOU want, not someone elses expectation.
    Later,
    GR & Janny

  12. Cherie, Your post is very insightful. For some of us that have been ‘trained’ in that workaholic mode for all of our lives it is extremely hard to break free. Your sharing is helping me in the last few steps of that effort.
    As far as the appropriateness of sharing topics like these I applaud you. It is not often easy to share internal counter-acting forces.
    If life is appropriate; then sharing is appropriate; helping each other is appropriate.
    thank you.

  13. Ding ding ding! I so resonate with all of your thoughts both on vacations (Italy is looking better and better – haha) and approval and healing. I took my first ever 3 week vacation 3 years ago – it was the most fabulous and memory filled vacation I’ve ever had. Since then I always take at least 2 weeks because indeed 1 week isn’t ever enough! Great post Cherie!

  14. When we had young children we took five 3 to 8 week camping trips across Canada over ten years. Now in the period of grief over our eldest son’s death, we’ve been told by both our other children that these were the most important thing we gave them. It was worth every moment. (Our eldest son was a water bomber pilot who died fighting a forest fire; he chose that career because of our trips through the mountains).

  15. Great article and so true, I was a 70 hour a week workaholic for many years but my reward was to retire at 53 years old and have traveled and snowbirded for the past 12 years. I am just lucky I survived to retire young and enjoy life.

  16. This was beautiful. I’m finding it sometimes still difficult to give myself permission to leave done family behind. My parents are not well, and always want me to come back to help out. Which I regularly do, except my visits are a list of things that they could accomplish other ways.
    I think once we get out of driving range, we can visit without lists.
    Another part that spoke to me was the getting laid off comment. I, too, was laid off and a huge weight was lifted. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. Yet I still struggle with the “yeah, but what do you DO now?” questions. Explaining repeatedly that what I DO to keep up our mobile lifestyle is a sometimes full time job, too. And learning how to make it easier is also an undertaking that I’m gladly… undertaking?
    Making life simple can be difficult to process, but wow it’s rewarding!
    Thanks again for posting a heartfelt message. It’s inspirational. ❤

    • It’s tough sometimes to be away from loved ones while you’re out doing your thing. We incorporate quality family time in whenever we can – and I’m so blessed this very lifestyle I created allowed me to be with my father in his last years.

      Chris too was laid off from his job, which was a huge blessing and just the kick he needed to pursue his dreams.

  17. Cheri, that was a touching article. It’ is amazing how illness puts life into perspective. What’s important and what’s not. Surviving an illness is what tipped the scales for us in making the decision to buy an RV. We wanted to embrace life. Although I wish I had more vacation time to enjoy it, we do the best with the time we have. Thank you. -Chris http://www.cuontheroad.net

  18. So true Cherie! I started my own IT consulting business at around your age and I was the best boss I ever had! 🙂 I worked harder, made more money AND had the flexibility I craved that let me travel when I wanted. And didn’t you LOVE the Big Island? Love that photo of you with the flower in your hair. Life is about learning and growing…and you seem to do both with grace and insight.

  19. Cherie
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post. This could not have come at a better time for me. I am in a stage of closing a major chapter in my life right now both personally and profressionally.
    Emotionally processing this change in my life has been filled with both excitement and doubt, but everytime doubt creeps in the Universe sends me a sign I have made the right decision.
    Today, your words were just what I needed. Thank you for being you and sharing your journey with us stranger-friends!

    • It so touches my heart to hear that my words have given you a little extra confirmation on your chosen path. Wishing you many wonderful adventures ahead as you embark on new roads.

  20. Sitting here in the early am reading this tears spill across my keyboard. Yes, your story was both touching and timely. This marks the 5th anniversary of both my Fathers and Daughters deaths. They passed within months of each other. I was so conflicted and confused in my grief those 5 years ago……..my Fathers death while natural in the timeline of this life, was still difficult. Mixed with my Daughters death which is not what a parent expects was painful and on some days devastating. I now am raising her son and watching my Mother decline. Your words really impacted me this morning as I am working on the grand plan for the boy and I to let go and travel forward. I am blessed that serendipity and mutual friends brought you into our lives. Thank you dear one for opening your heart.

    • My heart goes out to you Sky, I can’t even imagine enduring so much loss all at once. Go you for making every day forward count and sharing this wonderful world with your grandson. We too are so blessed that our paths crossed, and look forward to next time!

  21. Oh if only I was stronger when I was younger. Hubby worked for his step-dad (10 yrs) and he had the nerve to pick my hubby up from the hospital to take him to work the day after I had our son! Still there were too many years that slipped by before I learned to live on my own terms. For some it’s not about being workaholics it’s about total control but for me it’s about not being a people pleaser but pleasing myself. Great write up Cherie! I sure wish these life lessons didn’t hurt so much. Hugs!! ~M

    • Wow.. sometimes working with family is the toughest. So happy that you found your way to making your life your own – regardless of when, at least it happened. All my best to you!

  22. It’s encouraging that more and more young people (oh god I sound like my mother) are recognizing the importance of living a life you’ve so beautifully shared here. The high level of stress related illness and death is not a coincidence. It’s an imbalance. It has to stop and I believe that it is at least slowing down. Yes, your father would be thrilled at your Alaska adventure, especially seeing how happy it made you :-))

    • It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the default path to success in our culture and not even see there are other routes to happiness. We’re thrilled to see people of all ages realizing it and joining us outside that rat race.

  23. Thank you for sharing your amazing article I will first begin to “live my/your dash” and remember you with each adventure – hopefully living an RV life will come sooner rather than later My heart to you and those you love

  24. Beautiful post-and pictures! As former work-a-holics, we’re watching our daughter and son in law falling in the same trap. We’re so grateful we finally woke up at age 60 to start our vacation of a lifetime-full time RVing. We admire all the younger full timers who are balancing work and play! It’s not easy…..

    • It’s definitely not easy, especially with the pressures to be ‘successful’. Congrats on making your life your own, and hopefully your kids will eventually see the wisdom of your new lifestyle.

  25. Cherie, what a great post. This hits home with me so much. I was a programmer/analyst for 25 years, and I read the “4 Hour WorkWeek” which really made me start to question my “work for works sake” attitude. I remember hating the grind of it all, coming home spent from using all my energy at work, and not having enough mental energy for my life. Then a fateful day came, where I was let go from my job. I unloaded my stuff from my office into my car and cried “yippee!”. What a freeing feeling, and I vowed never to go back to that grind. I do odd jobs now, some odder than others. Mostly helping folks with computer issues and genealogy work. I am studying website design-a skill that should be easy to do on the road. Thanks for being an inspiration to this 56 year old lady!

    • The 4HWW has been so inspiration to so many to realize this concept. Regardless of how many hours you work a week doing whatever it is you do.. the important aspect is to make sure you are putting your priorities at the top of the list. Freedom is taking responsibility for your own happiness.. and sometimes the best thing that can happen is getting tossed out of the nest (ie. let go from a job.) Congrats on your own awakening!

  26. Cherie, great post! Always good to remember we are only given so much time
    and should not put off what brings us joy.

  27. This is such a heartfelt and true post, and I sure know how hard those are to write. You’re such a strong, amazing woman, but grief is such a difficult and individual thing. I’m so happy you found vacation time this summer, and that it helped you move forward. Those Europeans definitely get some stuff right 🙂

    Nina

    • It is indeed difficult to share the more introspective stuff… but some things are important. Time away from routine, even if your routine is awesome to begin with, is so important to shift perspectives.

    • ‘Those Europeans definitely get some stuff right 🙂
      Nina’

      From the european side, all looks easy. Just relocate and enjoy.
      Otherwise working selfemployed may offer more room to enjoy.

      Ones inner work-ethics may be the true barrier.
      I hope that we have the choice. To work more or less.

      Greetings from Germany!

  28. Hi Cherie- We like the order you wrote it “life/work” balance. Easy to say yet not always easy to balance and build margin. :-). Cheers, Jeff and Deb

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