A Dream Vacation on a Shoestring Budget
by H. L. Wegley
Free: A Hawaiian Island Research Trip for Author and Spouse
Does that sound like a scam? Too good to be true? Let me tell you about it, and then you can draw your own conclusions.
Seven years ago, my wife and I both retired from high stress jobs that were taking a toll on our health. We splurged and spent six weeks in a rented condo on Maui to wind down, get healthy and celebrate.
In our time on the Island, we snorkeled every day, together read 30 books, got the best tans we’ve ever had and put a big dent in our savings. In the process, the tropical island and a church that meets on one of its beaches won our hearts and we couldn’t wait to return.
But over the next three years, several things happened that changed our outlook on retirement and vacations. First, the recession from which portions of our nation are still trying to recover severely impacted us. Second, my wife convinced me to participate in her painless savings plan, which she had been doing for several years. This is how it worked. Any time we came home with change, we would throw it in a decorative tin box that lay on the floor of our home office. Third, we signed up for a bank-card rewards plan through our bank.
The fourth change was that I started writing faith-based novels and, surprisingly, received contracts for four books. This required a new type of travel, the research trip.
I decided to set my third book, Moon over Maalaea Bay, entirely in Maui. In this story, my heroine, who disrupted a human trafficking ring, is captured for revenge on her wedding night in Maui by the international trafficking syndicate. Some of the chase scenes required far more detailed descriptions of the setting than my memory held.
On our retirement trip, I took nearly 18 GB of digital photos, including nearly every beach on the Island. But, as I scrolled through these pictures, several locations were missing. I needed a research trip to Maui.
My best estimate was that we needed at least a 10-day trip to take photos and visit locations on the Island that were key to my story. But we were now living on a fixed-income and our budget simply would not stretch that far.
How could we pay for a 10-day trip to paradise without resorting to credit? Part of the answer came when I did something I hadn’t done in 5 years. I bent down and tried to lift the tin box. It weighed over 50 pounds. That surprised me, so I popped the lid off, looked inside, and noticed that my wife frequently counted one dollar bills as change and tossed them in, too.
We dumped the box out on the floor, separated coins and bills into their denominations, and quickly realized we had enough money in that box for half of our trip. It might have been a quick realization, but it took a few days of rolling coins and some seriously sore fingers before we could deposit the savings into our bank account. Then I checked the travel value of our accumulated bank rewards. We had enough to pay for the other half of the research trip. All the trip cost us was some time, a plan and a little patience.
After spending 10 days in a tropical paradise, my research was complete and the descriptions in Moon over Maalaea Bay reflected Maui in all of its splendor.
We learned that there are fairly painless ways of saving for things that might seem beyond our means. If we’re willing to forego instant gratification, remain faithful to our plan to save, and patiently persist, the rewards are great.
I’ve heard that there’s another place we can store up treasure, a place where our true citizenship lies; and if we are faithful and persistent in sending our treasure there, the reward awaiting us is infinitely better than 10 days in Maui. In fact, it’s out of this world!
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