Dear Wayne and Wanda,
My husband and I finally are scheduling a vacation again and agreed our first big trip after the last year should be Hawaii. I was so excited to plan something fun and Hawaii is a favorite spot for both. We have something of a routine — we stay in the same hotel, typically have a luau night, a snorkeling trip, probably one or two really great dinners, and he loves golfing.
When I went to book our tickets, he wanted to book the cheapest fares to save money, flying a red-eye. Rather than our hotel on the beach, he suggested much cheaper options that are blocks inland and frankly look kind of dumpy.
I pressed him on these suggestions and he said this last year has made him really value the dollar and see how much money we were previously wasting. He wants me to be willing to adjust and see that we can have an awesome Hawaii trip without spending so much. He suggested we cancel things like golf and snorkeling and instead go for a hike or rent bikes. He also said we should do more in-room cooking while we’re there and skip fancy meals.
This vacation is sounding less restful, not at all luxurious, and like a lot of work. I miss my old life so much and was hoping this would remind us of what we’ve been missing and help us get back to normal. How can I get us on the same page?
I completely understand why you are longing for the familiar luxury of a tropical vacation, complete with cushy hotels and sunset cruises and delicious food. Who isn’t?
And, I can also completely understand why your husband is eyeing past expenses and having a change of heart. When we go so long without extravagances that we had failed to recognize as such because they had become turnkey, it’s reasonable to expect we would question those expenditures. If anything, the past year has given us an opportunity to reexamine our routines and our habits and make better decisions.
Here’s the good news: you’re going to Hawaii! And a lot of people aren’t in a position to enjoy that extravagance. So whether you’re preening on a private yacht or fighting for towel space on a public beach, you’re in Hawaii. You win.
Speaking of winning, sounds like you and your husband had quit the winning routine when it comes to Hawaii time. Why not mix it up? He wants to save money and find ways to enjoy the simpler things. Embrace that. Accept that your way and the way you two always did things isn’t the only way. Prove that you aren’t all about expensive experiences — and if it turns out you are, challenge yourself to enjoy the simpler things and find ways to relax that don’t carry such a high price tag.
OK. I totally get your husband’s new “value the dollar” perspective. When all of your favorite — insert: bars, restaurants, music venues, movie theaters, mom and pop corner stores, pull tab islands, and/or tropical getaways — suddenly close and you’re unexpectedly hunkered down, your good times cash starts stacking up in that boring old bank account. Tough not to notice surprisingly sturdy savings and smaller credit card bills that aren’t filled with line after line of what we’ll call entertainment expenses. Also tough not to feel pretty, pretty good about it.
However … if there was ever a time to splurge and celebrate, it’s on your next vacation. How special yet comforting will it feel to revisit all of your favorite spots; to sip coffee and mai tais from your familiar lanai while you watch the sun rise/set/repeat; to hit the best beaches and soak up that magical sun and salt water; and to indulge all of the popular poke and island delights. You deserve it. And not only that: you and your freshly frugal husband have set enough money aside to easily make this all happen and still have plenty of savings, right? You haven’t gone big — or even medium or small — on vacation in a year!
If he wants to take a hike, go with him or chill by the pool. If he doesn’t want a pay for a chartered snorkel or scuba session, rent two sets of snorkel gear and fins and splash around nearby. But do not go discount with your sense of comfort, freedom, relaxation and happiness on this trip. You can begin your new bargain traveling lifestyle after this. For now, it’s time to celebrate being alive, surviving a pandemic, and winning in Hawaii and life. Aloha!