The Great Vacation Excuse (and How to Stop Making It)

Despite your protestations, you probably can go on vacation this summer. Tripp Friedler explains why you can afford it, why you’re not too busy…and why thinking about this issue can change your life.

New Orleans, LA (April 2006)–It’s vacation-planning season again. And as usual, while your friends and coworkers are booking their family beach trips and golf getaways, you’re facing another long hot summer of slogging away at your desk. It doesn’t seem fair. The kids are finally old enough to travel, and you’d love to take them. Unfortunately, you just can’t swing it this year…can you?

“Actually, you probably can,” says Tripp Friedler, author of Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning (Trost Publishing, 2005, ISBN:1-933205-00-8, $19.95). “I have noticed that clients who are always telling me they can’t afford a vacation seem to be doing pretty well. I mean, they can afford a lot of other things, so why not a vacation?”

A financial planner with a unique holistic approach, Friedler says he’s found that “I can’t afford it,” along with its first cousin “I’m too busy to take time off,” are excuses we use to cover other, deeper issues. Interestingly, most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Your assignment is to gain clarity on the vacation issue (and all its related tributaries) so you can make a conscious decision. Incidentally, this is the same brand of advice you’d get if you were Friedler’s client: search your soul to determine what you really want out of life, figure out what little strings are tying down your “inner Gulliver” (think of the Lilliputian scene in Gulliver’s Travels), and free yourself to live your dream.

Here are a few reasons you might be writing off your summer vacation–and Friedler’s thoughts on what is really going on:

You think you can’t afford it. Actually, you probably can. You would just rather spend money on a big house or an expensive car or monthly shopping sprees. If those are your priorities, fine. Just take the time to think about what you really, really want. (Gaining clarity on your financial situation is a major theme of Free Gulliver.) “When you really think about it, you may well decide you can live wih a more modest home or car to free up money for extras like nice vacations,” says Friedler. “Many people drift into a lifestyle that takes every cent of their paycheck without ever considering whether that’s what they really want. Think about it. Of course, you may well decide that the new car is more important than two weeks exploring America’s national parks. Hey, at least you’ll know it’s your choice.”

You believe they can’t survive without you at work. Sorry, but Friedler doesn’t buy it. No one is so important that a company will go out of business if they take two weeks off. If you believe yours will, well sorry, but you might have a few ego issues you need to explore. No matter how busy you are, you can take at least a short vacation. “You may have to do some creative juggling and delegating, but if a vacation is a priority to you, you can make it work,” he says. “Besides, if you’re truly the cog around which the rest of the company turns, all the more reason you need a vacation. They’ll just have to make do without you.”

Secretly, you’re more comfortable at the office than hanging out with your family. This one is tough to admit, but many hard-driving executives don’t enjoy being around their family for long stretches at a time. This is especially true if their spouse handles 95 percent of the day-to-day childcare. “I’m not here to judge anyone; I just want you to be aware of the real reasons you’re avoiding vacations,” says Friedler. “Many people will say, ‘Hey, my family is the reason I work so hard in the first place.’ I say to them, ‘Are they really? Then have dinner with them once in awhile. And spend a week or so with them at the beach–or be honest enough to admit to yourself that it’s just not your thing and send them off on vacation without you.’

Once you’ve ferreted out your excuse, decide where (if anywhere) you really want to go on vacation, set a goal (if not for this year then next), and start making some changes. It’s really that simple.

“Most people need a sense of balance, and working non-stop without a break isn’t the answer,” says Friedler. “And that’s what’s so great about drilling down and gaining clarity on your vacation excuse. It makes you really think about how all the pieces–work, home, family, money management–come together. And self-exploration is the first step in crafting a life of passion.”

About the Author:

Tripp Friedler is Gulliver. A born adventurer, he has weathered his share of storms, cut plenty of strings, and now helps others chart their own journeys. Interested in going back to school? Tripp has a law degree and is working on his second masters; he’ll help you find the time. Want a career change? Tripp gave up records to manage a restaurant, sold a business to make more time for his
wife and three children. As a Chartered Life Underwriter, a Chartered Financial Consultant, and an Accredited Estate Planner, he has studied the financial plans of over one thousand people and helped them create life plans to reach their goals.

About the Book:

Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning (Trost Publishing, 2005, ISBN: 1-933205-00-8, $19.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and major online booksellers.

For more information, please visit

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