If you’ve ever gone on a trip and felt that just as you were beginning to relax, it was time to go home – then you’ve probably thought about taking a longer trip. That’s how we started with our trips. One week here or there. Maybe you take 2 weeks away but you want to take more. No matter where you are in the spectrum of getaways, we know that there’s something pretty special about taking time for you. If you want to take a 4-week trip and aren’t sure how to do it, today you’ll find out how to do it, what to prepare, and most importantly – why it matters.
Our decision to go away for 4 weeks started as most things do. From another plan that didn’t go as expected.
We have been going to Montauk, NY every year since our second daughter was born. It was a relatively easy drive, no flying involved and we loved having time with the family. We would have Jay’s parents come join us and it became this fun trip we took as a family every summer. We would go away for a week, but as the years passed we began to wonder what it would be like to get away for 2 weeks.
Usually, 3 days in is when I would start to actually feel the layers of the life I was living and work I was doing begin to fall away. As that occurred time and time again, Jay and I began to talk about maybe doing 2 weeks. Last summer though, COVID was present and with it brought a big disruption to travel. Taking 2 weeks away over the summer wasn’t what we wanted to do right then. We knew though that it was still something we wanted to do at some point so I put it in my goals and visioning process as a way to not forget. When it came to planning this summer’s trip, it was front and center in my mind and we were committed to taking 2 weeks away.
As we started looking at Montauk, the high summer prices began to have us thinking about alternatives. We didn’t want to spend that much money for 2 weeks. Yet, if we were to spend that money, maybe we’d be able to do 4 weeks or a month somewhere else.
Often, we get so fixated on that one place we have to go that we forget that the world is big and there are so many places to go. We ended up deciding on Tulum, Mexico because we had just gone there right before the pandemic began and the whole family had a blast. They loved the food, weather, nature, people and place. A quick Airbnb search showed us that there were LOTS of options across the spectrum of prices. Tulum had become a mecca for those that didn’t want the hustle and bustle of Cancun or Playa de Carmen and had also grown in terms of development since I first visited it over 10 years ago.
We had only ever stayed at the beachfront hotels so looking at airbnbs in Tulum was new for us. While I did want to stay in a beachfront airbnb, there were few to no options so we chose to stay in one that was in the town of Tulum, approximately a 10 minute drive from the beach. Aldea Zama is a family-friendly development area with lots more development on its way. I have mixed feelings about the growth of Tulum. While this has made the area a lot more easy to live in, it’s also changed it from this very quiet town to one that has quite a lot going on.
Either way, staying there for 4 weeks was still a new experience and one that we were willing to try out. It’s common practice in Europe to take a month off yet in the US, it seems ludicrous. There is such a working culture here that even parental leave is a challenge for many. One of the main reasons I wanted to try going away for longer was because I like the idea of creating the life we want to live now. I’ve been a pretty pragmatic and disciplined person my entire life, yet some of the times I felt most alive were when I was traveling with people I loved.
I didn’t want to wait until retirement to travel or do things in a way that felt aligned with my values. It’s one of the reasons that I try to focus on living as much in the present moment as possible, not waiting for the next moment to be what I want it to be. I wasn’t stressed about taking the 2 weeks off or the 4 weeks. It was just something that I knew would be a great experiment with life. This is how most things turn out even better than you expect.
You let life show you an opportunity and you live it out. The opportunity was that we’re in this remote work environment where we could work from home. I don’t know what it’s going to be like next year, but right now this plan worked. We would take 2 weeks off for the first 2 weeks of the trip and then we would do a remote working situation for the remainder of our 4 weeks.
It helped that we had a great location where we could walk to restaurants, had a car, and wifi. If you don’t check into the wifi situation explicitly, working remotely could be very challenging. We also wanted a pool because it is hot in Tulum, especially in the summer. If we weren’t right next to the beach, we’d want to have access to a pool to swim in and cool off and for the girls. They LOVE pools.
If you’re going to plan something like this, and you want to make sure you have a good remote working situation, check into the WIFI. Read reviews on wifi, ask the hosts questions.
Also, another way to prepare is to actually have the intention that you’re not going to know everything before you get there. We didn’t rent a car until we got there because we weren’t sure where we should rent a car from or what the situation was like in terms of proximity to restaurants, stores, beaches – and the ability to access on foot and bike. I don’t think if I wasn’t self-coaching myself and receiving coaching I would have even attempted something like this in the first place because in the past I would have wanted to control everything.
We didn’t know all the places we were going to go to or stay at – but we did book 4 weeks at one place to have A place to stay.
Another question I received was how I did this with work. Both Jay and I work and our girls are old enough to play with each other well. We also knew that there was babysitting available if we needed it. Again, another test and learn experience. We both have invested lots of time and energy into our work whether it’s our corporate job or my coaching business so we felt good about taking that break. I think part of us doesn’t think we can take that much time off because we don’t think we’ll be viewed as capable or dedicated, but what I learned the hard way is that there’s never going to be enough work that proves to us internally that we’re capable and worthy. I had that hesitation and fear that many have when taking time off and letting others know but what I’ve realized is that it doesn’t serve us. What that hesitation is showing us is that we don’t believe that time off is important or that we can prioritize our personal lives in this way.
This is a big point to make and I want you to pay close attention, especially if you consider yourself someone who overworks. No one is going to tell you to take 4 weeks away. Your coach, if it’s me, might challenge you to do something that feels this expansive – but your job won’t. Your clients won’t. These are the things that we think back later and say, “this was a life decision I made that I remember”. You will not remember all the random meetings or the emails you took care of or the things you got done, but I know that in the moment – they seem most pressing.
My belief is that time away matters because I matter. Not me in this ego-driven sense, but my capacity to deliver and serve in integrity and without resentment comes from me living in alignment to what I want to pursue in my life. Sometimes, the 4 weeks away don’t make any sense and that is ok. It’s not that you need to take 4 weeks off. It’s more the idea of seeing why you resist taking time especially if you want it and know it would serve you well.
It matters to take some time away, even if it’s not 4 weeks because that’s time for you to unplug from what everyone is telling you has to be done and should be done – and you start living for yourself. This 4 weeks away wasn’t just doing what we normally do in another place for 4 weeks. I spent that time really focusing on the intention of being present, letting go of my personal preferences of exactly what has to be done and letting the reality of life determine where I was going. This is no small feat but something that allowed me to come out of this experience with not just a lot more awareness, but with real tangible results in my life.
I still delivered on big work commitments, I still made sales, I still kept my body healthy and whole. I also got to spend an unbelievable amount of dedicated time with my family. We saw the girls develop in their independence and spirit – we let them do a lot more on their own and found that their capacity to internalize and be aware of emotions and actions grew by leaps and bounds. I’m a big fan of discipline and values, but I’m also a big fan of questioning how we’re living – so undoing some of the structure of how we do everything was one of the ways that the 4 weeks became so meaningful.
We would definitely do something like this again. I’ll let the reality of the present moment show me where and when it’s possible, but I’ll hold it as part of the life I want to live. If you are thinking about doing it, I would highly recommend finding a place where the cost of living makes sense for you to not feel restricted in being able to make this work for you. This is an investment into your quality of life so even if you are putting extra time and money into it, I’ll ask you whether or not it’s one of the ways you want to spend your time and money.
I’ve made a decision years ago to value experiences over things, to live as a spiritual achiever – and this trip was the epitome of that. To blend work, life, family, joy and a little bit of risk into my experience and to really see how amazing life is when I let go of the reins.
That’s it for this week, my friend. Let me know if you decide to do something like this kind of trip or if this idea of 4 weeks away resonates with you. I’d love to hear about how you’re bringing some of this into your own life.
If you’d like to go even further, in this month’s Leadership group coaching, we’ll be covering how to reclaim our power, move into the energy of possibilities, and take topics like this one to apply into our lives. If you enjoy these kinds of topics, you can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.