Vacations are expensive, should we go or stay?
As many people during these tough times, we are cutting out extra’s in order to make ends meet financially. We are doing everything possible to not add debt, to make our current income go farther and to try to increase and diversify our revenue streams. One of the items at which we are looking critically is vacations.
My wife and I have been married for almost nine years and we have yet to take what many people would consider a major vacation. I’m talking about a cruise or Disney or some kind of resort. A vacation where money is spent on travel, lodging, food and entertainment. Throughout our marriage, our vacations have basically consisted of traveling to visit family and maybe staying one night in a hotel en route. There have also been some instances where I have taken my family along on a business trip – my vocation allows for this from time to time – not really a vacation, but I think it feels like one to my family. We hope to someday take a major trip, but we have a lot of other financial priorities before that happens. Here are some thoughts as you consider different options for some R and R.
The first question is, do you need a vacation? I’m not kidding, our culture has conditioned us to see vacations as normative. Everybody goes away for a week or two, don’t they? The reality is, that as our economy changes, we might see fewer and fewer opportunities for vacations – and fewer options due to the expense. Prior generations rarely (if ever) took vacations. The family farm did not allow for it. Most of the vacation spots did not exist. Tourism was an option for only the super rich. For most of us, time for relaxation is a necessity, but a travel vacation might not be a necessity.
I think my number one recommendation to someone who is considering a vacation is, do not finance your trip! I can’t believe the number of people who go into debt for a vacation. Even a honeymoon is not important enough to take out a loan. We have all seen the home equity loan ads or received the credit card “checks” that suggest that you pay for your next vacation after you get back. Dumb idea. Take a trip that you can afford, better yet, save up for it in advance.
The second suggestion is to figure out your mission. What is the purpose of your vacation? Is it just rest? You might be better off staying home, sleeping in and going out to eat every night to give your household cook a break. Are you taking an educational vacation? I know, sounds nerdy, but I would love to visit an old battlefield or Washington D. C. and just read every historical marker I see – maybe you could stay with friends or family for a trip like this. Are you looking for an adventure vacation? Whitewater rafting, backpacking, water park are all great options, but remember that you might come home more tired than before you left. Maybe you want a decadent experience with lots of luxury. Maybe you are celebrating a special occasion – these are all great reasons to take a trip if you can afford it, but it is important to think about the purpose of your trip so that you can budget appropriately and so that you do not get to the end of the week and have regrets.
My family’s recipe for a frugal vacation right now?
- A clean hotel booked on a week night and through a website that offers discount rates.
- A good free breakfast in the hotel.
- A swimming pool is a must. My kids are happy to swim all day.
- A cooler to store food for lunch – we only eat out once a day.
- We really try to get a two-room suite so that we can put the kids to bed early . . .
I know that my children will not always look on a 36 or 48 hour hotel stay as a vacation, but until their expectations get a little more sophisticated, we are more than happy to spend quality time in the hotel swimming pool. - Article by Stew
Photo by mode.