Birthdays: Treat Yourself to Travel
Yeah for your birthday! I do not know very many people who enjoy getting older (besides kids that is). Regardless of whether you embrace getting older, pretend it isn’t happening or actively work to prevent it, those birthdays roll around once a year no matter what. I do not necessarily embrace getting older, but I figure you might as well enjoy your birthday. It is the only day you get to be selfish and no one minds. Official holidays are great, but you share them with everyone else in the state, country or planet. Since you may only know a couple of people who share your birthday (if that), it makes the day of your birth unique and special. (I am sorry if your birthday falls on a holiday.)
Celebrate your birthday with a trip
I suggest you take the time to make your birthday all about you. Naturally, I suggest you take a trip to celebrate. Since my birthday falls in February, I like to head somewhere a lot warmer than Idaho. This year, I am headed to Arizona to spend the big day (and weekend) with my girlfriends. Technically, I could visit them any old weekend (and I have). But it makes my birthday so much more fun if I plan a trip around it. I end up looking forward to it instead of dreading it. Growing up, I looked forward to snow days on my birthday. Now I look forward to a new adventure.
Be creative in your planning
I like having a February birthday because travel is very affordable. Whether I go to another cold climate or head south, it is not too hard to find a decent price on a plane ticket. The crowds are thinner as well. R’s birthday falls in the middle of March. Unfortunately, that is the middle of spring break season and it can be difficult to find decent prices on flights, hotels and rental cars. Even if you want to go to places that are not considered spring break destinations, it just costs more to travel in March (same with summer and the holidays). If your birthday happens to fall during a peak travel time, start planning early. Also, you may have to think outside the box a bit. R had a great idea for her birthday this year, but flight prices would not cooperate. After a couple of weeks of research and brainstorming, she came up with a new, great idea: road trip to the other side of our beautiful state, rent a cabin and get spa treatments in Jackson Hole. The right adventure for your birthday is out there, you just have to find it.
Our friend C’s birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s. If we could convince her to leave home for the holidays, she could go on an epic birthday trip each year. But alas, she is not quite ready to give up her family traditions. And that is okay. It is her birthday so she gets to do what she wants.
Milestone birthdays are great excuses for big trips
I have been known to go a little crazy on milestone birthdays. After I turned 29, I figured I might as well start planning something epic for 30. I was not even sure I minded turning 30, but I wanted to make sure I had fun plans just in case. The morning I turned the big 3-0, I woke up, put on ski boots and hit the slopes of Zermatt, Switzerland. It was sunny and warm and I will never forget the views of those blues skies and snow-covered mountains. The next year, our travel buddy S turned 30. She remembered our time in Switzerland and decided to make big plans herself. The morning she turned 30, we went scuba diving in Bali. (Side note: even without the skiing-in-Switzerland thing, I was A-Okay turning 30. However, when my little brother reached that particular milestone, I had a much harder time coping.)
Planning and saving are crucial
That is the interesting thing about birthdays (milestone or not), you know they are coming. There are plenty of big events in life (e.g. promotions, kids, marriage, etc.) that you never see coming. But a birthday has a definite countdown. That makes it really easy to plan for. Last year’s birthday was 35. It was not a major milestone, but I was at a point in my career and my personal life where I could celebrate it in a major way—and I took full advantage. I spent the entire month of February traveling around Australia. On the actual birthday, I did a reefsleep on the Great Barrier Reef. It was an experience of a lifetime and I am so grateful I used my birthday as an excuse to sign up. It took me two years save and plan for that month-long trip, but it was worth every penny saved and every extra hour worked. You can bet I am already thinking about 40 and what I want to do for that. Do I want to turn 40? Hell no. But I am going to regardless, so I might as well plan something fun.
Seize the moment
My coworker just celebrated his 50th birthday. He mentioned, probably around his 47th or 48th birthday, that he wanted to do something big for 50. Hawaii was brought up several times. I whole-heartedly agreed and encouraged him to make plans. It was actually frustrating to see the big day coming closer and closer without him committing to anything. (Side note: I know this coworker well enough to know that there were no financial, personal or professional reasons for his lack of commitment.) He did finally decide to take a trip to Texas to celebrate. He did not take the trip on his actual birthday, but he still called it his 50th birthday trip and he was happy with his choice, which is all that matters I guess. His experience taught me an important lesson though: if you do not seize the moment and make plans, birthdays, even the milestones, come and go just like any other day.
Non-travel fun can still be had
I realize that it is not feasible for everyone to go on a trip, big or small, for their birthday. If funds are holding you back, I would like to point out that even the smallest travel fund grows over time and if it takes you five years to save up a for a special birthday trip, I think it will be worth it. However, you may be dealing with unavoidable life circumstances that make travel unrealistic. If that is the case, then there are plenty of ways to make your day special. At the very least, one should take the day off work (in my opinion). I even know of a company that gives its employees a holiday on their birthday. It is a day to do what you want to do. Sleep in, get a massage, throw a party, treat yourself to a fancy dinner, get a manicure…or do nothing at all. It is your day to do what you want.
Your birthday is your special day. And whether you like it or not, that special day comes around once a year. I suggest you plan something fun. If you can swing it, I suggest you plan a trip. It will give you something to look forward to and is the perfect excuse to get out of town.