I know how the thought pattern goes: you look at the ads for a Caribbean paradise and you think, “Maybe someday. I just don’t have the time or the cash right now.” Well, I would like to suggest that not only is it less expensive than you might think to take a Caribbean vacation, neither is it a sunk cost. It is not money out the window. A vacation makes its money back in hidden, but very real ways.
The Money You Have to Spend
The immediate concern is the cost of the travel. And yes, if you’re coming here from Canada, the U.S., or Europe you will need to book a return flight. But the great thing about Belize in terms of travel is it is not really that far away. From Toronto, for example, it’s a three-and-a-half-hour flight. I know lots of people who spend that much time in their cars or on a train, commuting every single day.
Air travel costs money, but airlines routinely have sales. Advance bookings and travel apps can help lock in really good pricing opportunities, even for two people return. And so many of these flights are direct to Belize City, so it’s convenient and comfortable to even fly economy.
Our beach house rates, too, are very competitive, and if you follow this blog or our Instagram, you can see what you’re getting: clean, safe, private and comfortable, with a friendly staff who are more like family. We even pick you up from the San Pedro airport and drive you back there. Even as we’re talking money here, you can be assured you’re getting value for every dollar you spend.
The Time it Takes to “Take a Vacation”
Lots of folks shy away from vacations for reasons other than money. Many feel they can’t take the time off from work. They are too overloaded with deadlines. Or worse, they fear they will miss out on something, or even worse, they feel they may lose their value as an employee by disappearing for a week. Not to mention the stress of trying to get everything done before you leave, and then facing a pile of tasks when you return.
Well, firstly, we do have internet down here, so if relaxation for you means staying connected to the office by email – if you really can’t leave your work behind, there’s lots to be said for returning those emails from a hammock on the beach, like I do. Oh, and Richard Branson does too. (Just saying.)
But a week away from the office can be easily project managed to ensure there is no rush period before departure and no stress inducing backlog when you come back. Time management and productivity expert Steve Prentice has a collection of tips and tricks to make this work. They are available on his blog here or on his podcast here. As he says, “it all comes down to two words: planning and communication.” If you think of your vacation as having three parts: the lead-up, the vacation itself, and the follow-up, you will have something that starts reducing stress from the very moment you decide to book it – long before you even set foot on our beautiful beach.
The Lifetime Benefit of the Three-Part Vacation
This brings is to the most important word of all: stress. Stress kills. In the short-term it leads to digestive and sleep disorders, headaches and all types of physical, mental and emotional pain. It also takes a great toll on your immune system, which leads to additional short- and long-term problems in terms of fending off sickness and disease.
One of Steve’s key points regarding the three-part vacation is the significant reduction in stress that essentially lasts a lifetime. Here’s how it works:
1. Choosing to go, and then booking the vacation. There is a thrill of anticipation and adventure that comes from choosing to take a vacation, and this quickly transforms into anticipation. These positive emotions release endorphins and other health-boosting hormones through nothing more than the anticipation of the vacation to come. Even if you are facing a really busy time at work right now, this becomes the light at the end of the tunnel. The best way to get through a stressful situation is to keep your eyes on the prize. Focus on that break or reward that will come after it. So, this means, the health-boosting effects of your vacation start right away. Even if the vacation is six months away, that’s six months of looking forward to a well-deserved break. This is Aspirin for the soul.
2. Taking the vacation itself. This is the next and most obvious part. Enjoying the vacation without problems or disappointments. This is your time to relax, recharge, and be taken care of. That’s why we feel it is so important that you know about the place you’re going even if you have never gone there before. And that’s why we take such care to show off our beach houses along with the sights of Ambergris Caye on this blog, our website and on Instagram. That’s why we also work really hard to take care of you. We know how valuable this time is for you.
3. The memory. Once a vacation is done and you’re back at work, the benefits are not over. In fact. they have only just begun. The memories of your vacation will last a lifetime. They will always be with you and you will also re-live them when you share stories and photos with your friends and family. A carefully project planned return to the workplace can successfully offset the shock of hitting the rat race at full speed. For example, Steve Prentice suggests you never book meetings for your first day back. That’s the day for easing back into the momentum.
Increasingly, companies are becoming more proactive in ensuring employees actually take their vacation days. As opposed to seeing vacations as “non-productive” time, many managers are recognizing that healthy, engaged employees do actually contribute more to a company’s success than tired, stressed-out people do. It’s part of the philosophy of work-life balance, or work-life integration, that is taking greater precedence in corporate management strategy. The long and the short of it is that a vacation is truly an investment, for you as well as your company (even if you’re self-employed). Your energy level, your capacity to focus, your ability to fight off illness like colds and flu, your sense of balance – all of these things contribute to your excellence as a professional. And that’s the hidden dividend: you will be more valuable and more successful by actually investing some of your time in rest and recreation. So, I ask you to seriously commit to taking a vacation at least once a year. By doing so, you will immediately start to dissolve that mountain of stress that you carry around with you and replace it with a vitality and energy that has its own tangible payback.