What if all of your days were like Labor Day?

belize could be your labor day destination

Last Updated on September 10, 2023 by Ellen

Will you truly decompress, relax, and enjoy a long weekend for Labor Day? Do you wish you didn’t have to go back to work? Would you love to retire and travel the world? 

All of your days can be like Labor Day.

Consider this:

“When you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying for the hours of your life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing that money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one’s life and freedom that way.”

Jose Mujica, former president of Uruguay

We are living as we had dreamed because we embrace experiences over things.

We have lived in affordable foreign locations from Montenegro to Malaysia to Mexico — as budget slow travelers.

It’s amazing to sample food in the countries we visit, instead of eating in the work cafeteria. It’s a pleasure to listen to explore a new city instead of attend another meeting.

I no longer win any awards or celebrate promotions. But my life today pays me so much more: shared and valued time with people from other countries; new knowledge about other cultures; a better, deeper understanding of humanity since I started off on this budget slow travel path in August 2015.

I don’t have deadlines, endless unopened email, litigation threats. No more electronic time cards and strict evaluations. I’m not interested in the necessary evils of business as usual.

It took intentional effort and hard work to have the option of an early retirement. I made frugal decisions throughout my life once my student loans were settled up. I never bought a house, I decided not to have children, I lived well below my means, and I saved money. Tedly taught me how. (And he once talked me out of home shopping.) He lived well below his means, he also decided not to have children, saved his money, invested his money, and he helped me invest.

On Labor Day now…

We can enjoy Rojak or Ais Kacang in Penang, Malaysia. Or take a skinny dip in the Black Sea in Bulgaria or the Adriatic Sea against the stunning cliffs in Kotor, Montenegro. We can explore caves and bays in Vietnam, beaches in Thailand or the Philippines. We can get a culture fix at the Vatican Museums. We can do whatever we like. And it’s like that every day.

So what about you? Are you in?

If you want to live a budget slow travel lifestyle but you don’t actually do it, take time this holiday and ask yourself: why not? What’s holding you back? Is it really too risky?

Yes, this involves some risk. My income stopped in the prime of my life. Fingers crossed for stock market growth. Health care can be a challenge. Hopefully, no more breast cancer (I’m no evidence of disease for more than five years at the time of this update).

But huge (calculated) risks, can lead to huge payoffs. I wouldn’t trade these past eight years for anything. Can you say the same?

If you wish every day could be like a holiday weekend, make a plan. If you don’t already have one, we suggest:

  1. Embrace experiences over things
  2. Control your spending & live below your means
  3. Consistently save money – the earlier the better
  4. Make wise investment choices
  5. Be courageous and relentless

If you are ready, but afraid, we have special pep talk just for you.

If we can do it, you can, too. “Life only gets shorter…” And: Life is Now.

So stick to your plan, and/or find courage, and we’ll see you out here one day.


More inspiration for retired budget travel:


5 thoughts on “What if all of your days were like Labor Day?”

  1. Well said. Fantastic photos too! We plan to spend nearly 3 dyas in Barcelona next month before heading north into France. Other than the Sagrada Familia, can you pass along other ‘must-dos’ you two did? Muchas gracias.

    1. Totally depends on your interests.
      Scenic views? Guell Park or the Olympic site. We rented electric bikes to get up the hill and save time.
      Beach time? There is a really long, great beach walkway.
      People watching in the tourist zone at a cafe? Old town.
      Museums are everywhere- if you are a Dali fan, take a day trip on a train to the Salvador Dali Museum & Theater. If you do that, buy tickets ahead of time for the earliest slot possible.
      But with only three days, Barcelona has so much to see you may not leave the city.
      Enjoy your trip!

  2. I read (and commented largely with Loretta) with utmost attention your thinkings about Labour Day. How right you are and how determined you have been in pursuing the wonderful project you and Tedly had outlined. Ellie, an enormous pleasure every time I read your blog

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