If you’re like most people, you love going on vacation! After taking 5 weeks off from 2007 to 2009, and 6 weeks off in 2010 and 2011, I fancy myself as a “certified vacation expert”! You see, vacation is not just all about relaxing and chilling at the beach. Not at all. A vacation is about relaxing, while doing something productive that doesn’t feel like work!
Remember during summer vacation in high school how bored you would get after a couple of months twiddling your thumbs? By the time the third month of vacation rolled around, you were itching to just go back to school! I know most people felt this way, and if you didn’t, you probably had a nice summer job, or family vacation abroad to kill the time and keep your mind and body active!
1) Vacation becomes more fun when you’ve worked hard for an extended period of time. If all you did was go on vacation, you would soon bore and long for something productive to do.
2) Everybody misses home after a while, no matter how fun the vacation. To sleep in your own bed, to pet your bunny rabbit, to eat at your favorite diner… all these things start pulling at you after a certain amount of time you travel.
3) Vacations are seldom ever a bad thing for the mind. Vacations allow us to recharge and revitalize. However, if poorly planned, you might return more tired than energized if you aren’t careful!
4) Vacations can be very bad for the body if we are not careful. I once gained 10 pounds on one of my first two-week cruises with my parents because I ate 5 big meals a day! There’s a tendency to say, “We’re on vacation, gorge and spend away!”
5) If you have enough money, you will be able to always feel at home while on vacation!
HOW TO ALWAYS FEEL AT HOME WHILE ON VACATION
After a couple weeks, I used to start longing for home. The longing period is different for everyone. I venture to guess that almost everyone misses home after the first month away. Would you agree?
The beginner’s strategy for always feeling at home while on vacation:
1) Bring pictures and things you feel most at home with eg your pillow. When my head hits my own pillow, it makes me feel that much more comfortable. Besides, do you know how many bed bugs and fungus are in public pillows? A lot! Might as well have your own bed bugs and fungus.
2) Stay connected with friends over e-mail, social media, and Skype. It’s unbelievable that just 15 years ago, we could hardly do any of this. Thank goodness for technology!
3) Know your limits, and vacation only to the point where the marginal utility is still positive. If you know you start feeling homesick after 10 days, then take a 9 day vacation.
4) Invite all your friends to vacation with you.
The advanced samurai strategy of feeling at home while on vacation:
1) Identify your favorite spots in the whole wide world.
2) Dig deeper into where you want to live in your favorite places in the whole wide world. It might be the place where you went on your first date, your first hike, etc. You’re looking forward to recreating the nostalgia and memories.
3) Procure property at your favorite spots in the whole wide world!
Three of my favorite places are: Lake Tahoe, Honolulu, and San Francisco. I have traveled to around 50 different countries, and visited over a hundred cities, and I can honestly say these three places rank right up there.
Other favorite places include: Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Paris, and Kuala Lumpur I would enjoy living. That said, Lake Tahoe, Honolulu, and SF are the places where it makes most economical sense for me to live, play, and work. They are all within 5 hours away from each other like a triangle, if you will.
Lake Tahoe: I love to snowboard and chase storms all the time. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Point Break” with Patrick Swayze, I’m kind of like Bodi, but the snow version. When a big storm hits the Lake, I’m right in the thick of it and will drop everything, especially work! Lake Tahoe is about 3-4 hours away from San Francisco, and has world-class mountains. Squaw Valley hosted the 1960′s Olympic Games and has 11,000 foot high peaks.
During the summer, Lake Tahoe is even more beautiful with its endless hikes, mountain biking trails, and deep blue waters. I could hike and then lay by the Lake all afternoon long! I also enjoy playing golf about once or twice a week and Lake Tahoe sports at least 10 different golf courses in the area.
San Francisco: What can I say about San Francisco that hasn’t been said before? With a temperate climate averaging 67 degrees all year long, beautiful scenery, a booming tech industry, wine country one hour north, a thriving entreprenurial culture, tons of diversity, the arts and all the good eats one can find, San Francisco is my favorite city in all of America.
The people in San Francisco are different from the people in New York City, another marvelous city. We are here mainly for the lifestyle, and then our jobs second. Whereas in New York City, people are there because of their jobs first. This is the main difference when people ask, besides the cheaper rent and better outdoor lifestyle. I love NYC, but I love SF more.
Hawaii: If you’ve ever been to any island in Hawaii, you will know its beauty is hard to beat. Winters average 78 degrees, and summers average 83 degrees. Hawaii is consistently ranked as the happiest state in America, and for good reason! If you work 20 hours a week, you get universal healthcare. The beaches, parks, and hiking are all free. Meanwhile, there is a true sense of family (Ohana) on the island, where everybody looks out for one another.
Hawaii is paradise. And if you move to Hawaii from San Francisco, you’ll find that housing is actually about 30% cheaper! Food and gas are equally expensive since everything is imported. If you become a local (Kama’aina), golf and many other activities become extremely affordable. We’re talking $20 for a round of golf folks! Hawaii is the best place for an online entrepreneur to work as well.
SLOW AND STEADY WITH NO EXCUSES
Over the past 13 years, I have systematically purchased or involved myself in properties in my three favorite places. Some have been very profitable, and one has not. I didn’t buy any of these properties with the intention to sell. I’ve always bought property with the intention to enjoy them for as long as my life situation will allow. Having wonderful experiences while owning property is what it’s all about!
Before you buy, just make sure your finances can support the properties based on your cash flow and follow my 30/30/3 rule for home buying. When you are retired, just think how awesome it is to have all your properties mortgage free and available for you to enjoy whenever you want. Meanwhile, when you’re not there you can collect rental income as well!
Of course, the trader in me is always open to selling if I get the right bid. With the influx of millionaires due to the IPOs of LinkedIn, Facebook, Zynga, and so forth, I’m thinking of testing the market for my primary home, and at least learning about how the market is right now.
Every time I go to Hawaii or Lake Tahoe for vacation, I feel right at home because I am at home. I’ve got my shoes, clothes, bed, golf clubs, snowboard, tennis rackets, hiking shoes, boogie board, flip-flops and everything I want waiting in the respective closets . I could stay at each place for months on end and never feel homesick. Every time I return to San Francisco from a trip abroad I feel like I’m on vacation as well. How many cities can you say that about?
FOCUS ON GETTING YOUR FINANCES IN ORDER
Getting our personal finances right by saving aggressively and investing is so important if you want to solve simple problems such as feeling homesick while on vacation. With strong personal finances, you develop the optionality to do whatever you want. To gain optionality, stop messing around, work hard, and stay disciplined with your finances! Eventually, the spoils will come. You’ve got to get rid of your, “I want it, and I want it now” type of mentality because you will never get it if you continue with this train of thought.
If ever you need motivation to start saving and investing wisely, think about your next vacation and know that: 1) You’ll be able to comfortably afford your vacation anywhere in the world, and 2) You’ll never have to feel homesick again because you can just buy the place and call it your own!
* Manage Your Finances In One Place: The best way to become financially independent and protect yourself is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ difference accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing and how my net worth is progressing. I don’t have to worry about my finances anymore while I’m on vacation!
Photo: Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, Waianae Mountain Range on Oahu, Jan 2013. SD.