Making the Most of Your Days Off

The past few weeks have been eventful, exciting, and also demanding. As I officially start my career as a nurse, move to the city, and discover my independence I am also abruptly jolted into the realities of adulthood. However, adulthood does come with its own perks, like an adult paycheck!

I am still getting used to how that adult paycheck feels in my bank account on pay day. As greedy as this new income can make me feel, I am holding on tight to some advice I received as a nursing student. An experienced nurse warned me about a year ago that even though picking up extra shifts and working overtime may seem tempting as a new graduate nurse I should avoid it in excess, as it will lead to quicker burnout.

Although I am not all that experienced in the real adult world yet, I have to agree. This is true for any job – you have to make time for yourself and the things you enjoy outside of work. In American culture, especially, it is easy to get so wrapped up in our work that we forget about balance. I am guilty of this too; my career is very important to me, and at times I can turn into a workaholic if I am not careful. I have to remind myself that the job and all of the responsibilities will be there when I get back, and I can potentially tackle all of my responsibilities more successfully with a clear mind.

Everyone is different. For me, this balance of work and play is found in my passion for travel. This past week I had five days in a row off. I understand that not every job can afford people that luxury, but for me I was going to take full advantage of this. About a week before leaving, I approached a friend with the same spontaneity and wanderlust that I have about taking a trip. She enthusiastically agreed, making me feel even better about the idea and the kind of friends I keep.

Now this idea had to come to fruition. We actually had to put our words into action with only a week to make it happen.

We decided to go to The Dominican Republic because it fit our budget, desire for sunshine, and provided the opportunity to practice our Spanish. In typical A Little Bit Lost fashion we had no idea where we were staying until the day of or the night before. This served my friend and I both just fine since we embrace meeting new people and learning from their experiences and advice. Our long weekend looked a little like this:

  • Day 1:
    • Wake up at 7 a.m. and catch a flight to Punta Cana.
    • Book accommodations at a hostel/campground at Macao Beach (about 20-30 minutes from Punta Cana).
    • Eat a home cooked meal made by Andres, the owner of the hostel, and his crew.
Macao Beach Hostel/Campground

When staying in places like The Dominican Republic, known for resort beaches such as Punta Cana, I would advise taking a little time in your trip to stay in places off the beaten path. This hostel, called Macao Beach Hostel, was not far from Punta Cana, but it afforded us the opportunity to meet local people, see the countryside, and experience a bit more of the real DR aside from the fancy resorts and tourist traps.

  • Day 2:
    • Hit up Macao Beach with Andres, who showed us a hidden beach and gave us a ride on his bike Dominican style (which is apparently three people on one dirt bike and is a typical rite of passage in the Dominican Republic).
    • Book accommodations in Bavaro, Punta Cana and make our way to Punta Cana to do as the tourists do. We stayed in a lesser known hotel that was less than a five minute walk from the beach and only cost $13 per night! This included a private room in a shared suite with a kitchen and balcony, a shared bathroom, pool, and breakfast.
    • Walk along the beach and grab a beer by the water.
Hidden beach in Macao

  • Day 3:
    • Excursion Time! On day three we went on a boat tour with snorkeling, swimming, music, dancing, snacks, an open bar, and beautiful views!
    • These excursions can be pretty expensive, so we set out to get the best deal that we could find. The day before we had met a guy at a fruit stand who sells excursions. We got his contact info and began negotiating. I would recommend making connections with locals in order to book tours instead of going through a travel agency. In my experience, that is the best way to get a good deal and avoid getting ripped off.
Snorkeling Excursion

  • Day 4:
    • We took the 11 a.m. bus to Santo Domingo from Punta Cana for $8.
    • Upon arriving to Santo Domingo, we decided to visit Los Tres Ojos National Park. This park gets its name for its three large natural pools located inside natural cavernous caves. There is actually a fourth pool you can visit by boat for an extra 50 cents!
    • That night we stayed at Island Life Backpacker Hostel where they were hosting a poker night. The friendships and open atmosphere of staying in hostels is one of my favorite parts of traveling!
Los Tres Ojos National Park

  • Day 5:
    • Back to the real world!

A five day trip to The Dominican Republic might not be everyone’s ideal way to destress and get away from the monotony of the workday routine, but for me it was exactly what I needed. The most important thing I hope you takeaway from this is balance. Whatever that looks like for you, find it and incorporate it into your life regularly.

I’ll end this post with a saying I have posted on my fridge from Argentina:

“Travel! Money recovers, time does not.”

“Viaja! El dinero se recupera, el tiempo no.”

With Love,

Sarah

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