Vacation in a bottle


I call it “vacation in a bottle.” First off, I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not ashamed. The fact is that I always take the shampoo and soaps from my hotel stays. And sometimes I ask for a few extra before I leave. Sure one could argue I’m cheap – and you’d be correct – but it isn’t about saving money. But it’s all about the “vacation in a bottle.”

It started a few years ago while I was on Marco Island.

We were staying at a Marriott property and I was showering (hide your eyes) and smelled the shampoo and thought “Wow. This smells like a vacation in a bottle.” So I snatched up as many bottles as I could before we went home. I didn’t want to vacation to end but we know that it would and the Monday blues would soon set in. Yet, when I returned home, I wanted to be reminded of the beach, shelling and sun versus living in the cold tundra we call the Midwest.

So I named this experience “vacation in a bottle.”

Every day after we returned home I used “vacation in a bottle” and the aromas and lather brought me back to that beautiful beach on Marco Island. Just the scent of the shampoo would transform me to that vacation mindset and I didn’t have to spend all that money.

So the following year, we stayed at a different Marriott property and guess what they didn’t have – “vacation in a bottle.” What the Hell! Sure it’s a nice place, but I wanted “vacation in a bottle.”

Now, I suspect most families don’t track their spending on a daily or monthly basis. However, St. Croix Advisors clients have access to iAdvise- the most advanced financial planning software. It allows us to track their spending and help establish a monthly budget.

Because I was determined that this wasn’t going to ruin my vacation, I walked down to the other Marriott property and asked if I could purchase some of their shampoo. Then the lady at the front desk thought I was nuts, maybe even more so after I shared my story with her. Sure, she probably was right, but darn it, I worked hard and I wanted “vacation in a bottle” to use during my stay and bring home. Realistically, she just thought I was nuts and found some shampoo for me and just gave it to me and probably hoping I’d find a white padded room far away.

Now that I had my “vacation in a bottle” I could thoroughly enjoy my stay.

Recently, I was in Arizona and Utah and since there with no Marriott properties, we stayed at a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express (I did feel a little smarter and ready to take on my day). Not surprised, they didn’t have “vacation in bottle.” I must confess I didn’t take any shampoo and soap knowing our final hotel was going to be a Marriott that did have “vacation in bottle.” I wasn’t the first to notice, my wife was. And as I took that first shower, all those great ocean memories came back even while we were traveling in the desert. And you know what – I asked if I could have a few extra bottles to take home to keep my supply up. Now, I’m not that cheap to take the notepaper, towels, robe, etc. I do have some standards and a little pride, but not much.

For many of us, the ability to enjoy 365 Saturdays every day (retirement) is years away and we have to settle for a vacation or two a year. For me, my “vacation in a bottle” lets me keep that experience going on for a while longer.

That’s how I combine the frugal and dreamer sides of me.

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