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Can't Afford a Vacation This Year? What Can You Do as a Couple at Home?

Updated on July 19, 2010

Dear Veronica,

I realize this isn't a big problem or anything but I wanted to seek your advice since it's always so helpful. My husband and I have been married for 15 years. Due to the economy and finances we can't afford a vacation this year. Every year we each put in at work to take off the first week of September and get the extra day for Labor Day. We almost always go on a cruise. We both really look forward to this because we work hard at our jobs and this week alone and away together is a chance to have real romantic couple time. We leave the kids with my parents or his parents, and we just enjoy each other as a couple for a whole week.

We are lucky. We have good jobs and still have them, and we are still both getting our paid vacation week, but we just can't swing going away on a cruise. I'm so upset about this. I don't even care that we aren't going away, I just really am upset we won't have that week together romantically. Do you have any advice?


Dear Rayna,

Your yearly romantic week away with your husband sounds absolutely dreamy. What a smart thing to do, to renew your romance every year. You kind of touched upon this in your email: it isn't so much the cruise or the vacation spot, it's the time that belongs to just you two as a couple that is what's so important. 

I'm sorry money is tight. It is for everybody, it's not just you. Since you do have this week coming to you both with pay, I really think you should still take the vacation, and you should make it as romantic and private as previous years' cruises and vacations.

The fact that your kids can go to their grandparents is fantastic. Keep that arrangement. It's healthy for your marriage and it's good for your kids to have that break every year. It's important that you and your husband spend time working on your relationship as lovers and partners and friends, and not just parents. It's also good for your kids to enjoy time with their grandparents and experience weeks where the authority in the house isn't you and your husband. This helps to cultivate their respect for their elders, their understanding of limits and boundaries, and their independence and sense of self. 

I am assuming you do not have to pay the grandfolks for the babysitting. Even if you chip in towards food and activities, it's probably not more than you'd be paying anyway having the kids at home, feeding and entertaining them. 

Do whatever you normally do when you go away. Free yourself up from daily responsibilities, so that you can still have that super romantic time alone together. 

Obviously if you can make some romantic plans that aren't too expensive in your local area, go ahead and do it if you can afford to. Simple things like going to the movies, having brunch out, perusing antique stores, catching a play, walking through some local museums and art galleries, or spending some time at a beach or a pool would all be perfect. Take some hikes, check out the local flea markets or historical societies. Have a picnic.

The important thing is to keep that vacation mode. This takes a little more effort than you may realize. Relax. Sleep in. Light candles. Rent some sexy movies. Talk. Hold hands. 

Do not go to Home Depot. Do not do laundry. Do not exterminate the basement. Do not feel like you have to get some home repairs done, or clean out the kid's closets. 

Try looking at your home town with visitor's eyes. Are you one of those people that lives in New York City and has never been to the Statue of Liberty? Do you live near DC and you've never cruised the Smithsonian? Try to look at what you have right there around you with new eyes. Look for clubs, comedy shows, restaurants, festivals, tourist attractions, and galleries that you might be able to check out on your "Vacation at Home."

Letting go of daily responsibilities for a week every year is awesome. And I really encourage you to do it this year even though you'll be at home. When you let go of those daily grinds, and you find yourself able to relax, you can really be free to enjoy some special time with your honey. Sleep in, move some furniture out of the way and dance in the living room. Be sexy, and open. Indulge in some heavy conversations, or some romantic love making. Whatever you normally do on vacation, go ahead and do it in your house. Open that second bottle of wine, take a shower together, lay on the couch rubbing each other's feet and reminisce about your lives together. Cook together. Shut down the computers and the cell phones and be in that cruise headspace together.

You know it's important to ask your husband what he wants to do too. He may have some ideas. He may surprise you. He may want to go clothes shopping, or try out a free class at a Tae Kwon Do school that's just opened in your area. Whatever it is, as long as you two can do it as a couple and make it fun, it's all good. If he wants to go fishing, I'd recommend you do it. Even if it's not something you really want to do.

Switch off the next day and ask him to do something vacation-y that you'd like, for example going to a museum. It's important not to fill every day with activities. That cruise mentality involves alot of relaxing.

If you have a few bucks you can spend, one cool thing I would recommend is renting a car. Are you guys driving a minivan now? How much would your husband like renting a convertible for a week? Cruise around a little, drive to the beach. Just like when you go away and you rent jet skis or mopeds, this can be a little fun and little exciting.

If you can go someplace other than your house, that might be fun. Camping is usually pretty cheap and can be very romantic. Even one night at a motel can just feel sexy and different. 

Spending quality time together as you know from experience is important and healthy. Just because you won't be on the ocean this year doesn't mean you can't create that same quality time away from work and chores and kids, and rekindle that romantic connection. Take the week! Send the kids to the grandparents and enjoy your annual week-long date!


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