10 things to do to give you that “vacation feeling” (when you can’t actually go on vacation) by Karen Fabian

It’s school vacation week here in Boston and around the country. That means your Facebook page is most likely filled with pictures of people in tropical locations or otherwise relaxing venues.  Vacations are wonderful but if you can’t afford the time or the money required to get away, does that mean you’re stuck having a week of the same old thing? Hardly.

When you “can’t afford to get away,” as they say, here are some ideas to get you in a vacation mood:

Take one day off this week. Ok, so you can’t take the time or spend the money. But you can take one day, or even one afternoon off. Look towards the end of the week and scoot out of work early. Or, better yet, take one of the remaining days off this week. Remember, many people don’t take all the vacation days they are given by their employer.

Leave the cooking to the experts. Who cooks on vacation? No one does. So, this week, take some time to try a few new restaurants. Venture into some new neighborhoods, even those that you formerly avoided thinking, “I can’t afford it.” Constant thinking about what you can’t afford keeps you stuck in a feeling of scarcity. Instead, be open to trying new places, even if you need to be mindful of the cost of your meal.

Go out for ice cream at night. Many people have fond memories of summers spent in vacation spots, where the post-dinner activity was to go out for ice cream. Connect to those fun memories and take a walk to a local ice cream spot to enjoy the sweet of your choice.

Take in an action flick or comedy: Just like going out for ice cream can remind you of summer vacations, so can going to a movie. It’s hard to make the time to go to the movies during a workweek, which will make it all the more special if you do. Look for the latest action flick or comedy (who wants to take in a heavy, emotional movie on a weeknight?) and enjoy.

Play a game with someone you love. Back in the day, when my mom and dad would take us to the seashore for a week, there was no television in the rental unit. We’d read books and play monopoly or cards. So, instead of watching TV or huddling over your computer, pull out the backgammon or whatever you prefer, grab a friend or your sweetie and have a little friendly competition.

Have a picnic. Weather permitting, get your biggest wicker basket, go to your local gourmet grocery and buy some fun finger food to munch. Be creative: olives, salmon, fancy crackers and hearty bread, unique fruits and, of course, organic chocolate should all be on the menu. Add a non-alcoholic sparkling flavored water or wine and travel to a local park with a blanket. Food always tastes better outside!

Play golf, walk in the park, visit a local arboretum. If you happen to play golf, there is nothing more restorative than being outside on a nice day, hitting some golf balls. Leave the cart behind and walk the course if you can. Don’t worry about performance; you’re doing this for fun. If golf isn’t your thing, find a local park or hiking trail and take a walk.

Get a massage, foot reflexology or other spa treatment: Even if it’s just a manicure, you’ll feel like you’re investing in yourself and any of these treatments give you time to relax. If you’ve never tried foot reflexology, I’d highly recommend it.

Visit a bookstore. Wandering around a bookstore is a great way to open your mind and explore new things. Take some time to go through the aisles about travel, cooking, health and anything else that sparks your thought process. Just like some o these other activities, here’s something you can do at night after work, instead of the same old thing.

Make a vacation vision board and an action plan: Even if you can’t afford to take vacation now, it doesn’t mean you should write it off forever. Grab some magazines and cut out some picture of places that inspire you. Hang them in a prominent location (a cabinet or above your desk).  Start researching the cost of a trip and create a savings account just for vacation savings. Review your budget and figure out what you can afford to put away each week. Seeing your vision board will inspire you to save. Once you are halfway to goal, book the trip for three months out and head towards the finish line and your own vacation!

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