The Magic of Mini-Retreats

four hour workweek

Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be adornment of the mind and the formation of judgement.” -Paul Fussell, Abroad

If you’re a fan of Tim Ferriss’ Four-Hour Workweek like I am, then this article is a good reminder to revisit his chapter on mini-retreats to start planning your next mini-retreat.

Tim presents us with the idea of not just traveling, but of using that time to gain experiences, often at less cost than the cost of living where we currently live, and of not continually working harder and harder until retirement but instead taking mini-retreats that allow us that feeling of retirement continually rather than putting it off for our final days.

The strongest points I believe Tim makes on the concept of mini-retreats are gaining experiences in unique environments and the fact those experiences can cost less than your cost of living now. Tim inspires us with the idea of considering something we really want to accomplish, then picking an environment where you can accomplish that in a phenomenal and authentic way. In his case, he wanted to learn martial arts. Rather than finding a knock-off doja in his home town, he spent a month straight in Japan studying martial arts, honing his skills, and immersing himself in its traditions and codes of combat. It was an experience unlike any other. He guides us through how we can have those experiences for little extra cost by purchasing airlines tickets with points earned through credit cards, covering lodging costs through programs such as home exchanges, and looking for locales with affordable experiences such as Mendoza where he tells us we can charter a private plane for three days across wine county with our own private guide for just $150. Image those views!

I have seen several friends apply these concepts to bring them phenomenal skills, experiences, memories, and friends. My friend Christina lived in Uruguay training horses and learning how to speak Spainish; it’s also where she met the love of her life whom she is still with today, here in the States. My friends Meg and Nic taught English in Vietnam with a cost of living difference that allowed them a maid, driver, ability to have cashmere custom made suits perfectly tailored and created just for them at only $120 each, and spent their weekends traveling and partying across Asia while learning how to speak Vietnamese and all their customs. I spent two weeks in Vietnam with them and it’s a trip I will never forget.

I will further the importance of taking mini-retreats rather than putting them off for retirement with a personal example. My grandmother always wanted to travel. It’s what she continually asked my grandfather for: a trip, an adventure, to see a new place. My grandfather continually told her to wait as he worked tirelessly to build his own business from the ground up. She succumbed to cancer before I was born, having never gone on any of those trips. I’m told they loved one another more than most people ever find, but he didn’t make the time to take her on any of those trips before she passed. So my grandfather decided he wanted to give his family their inheritance, which he had worked so hard for for him and his wife to enjoy together but wasn’t able to do, while he still lived.  He wanted to see the new generations of family enjoy the fruit of his labors, so he started distributing our inheritances while he was alive so he could see us enjoy it. I put the first inheritance payment I received towards  taking my sister to Europe for a month after she graduated collage. A phenomenal trip of food, friends, and memories I will never forget.  That first big trip was several years ago and I’ve had the privilege of taking several since. Thank you, and rest in peace, grandpa.

Don’t put off your dreams or dream trips forever. Start taking them now, little by little; living out your dreams rather than putting them off.

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