Vacations replace the exhausting day-to-day grind with relaxing and fun experiences that can be shared with friends and family. Most of us look forward to the next vacation as soon as the last one ends. While it is easy to get caught up in the joys that vacations can bring us, we need to be responsible spenders in line with the Catholic debt perspective.
Don’t spend money on a vacation if you are in debt
If you have piled up large amounts of credit card debt, it is probably best to take the money you would use for the vacation and redirect it to paying off debt. Being in debt and going further in debt to finance a vacation you can’t afford is a downward spiral that will not end well!
We live in Orlando which is one of the vacation hotspots of the world, but even for us a one day ticket to one of the local theme parks is a budget buster with tickets near $100 per person per day–not counting parking, food and drinks (which can’t be brought into the parks).
Budget wise it it’s better to make a vacation out of things we can do for free at or around our own home. Try an overnight campout on the lawn with the kids, while showing a movie on a sheet hung on the trees. Go to the public pool or park. Check out the local historical sites. Or just spend time with family and friends playing games or watching movies, which can be much more fun and relaxing than fighting your way through hordes of hot sweaty people while dragging the exhausted kids along.
The thing that matters most when it comes to vacations is the memories you make. Sure you will remember a day in a fabulous theme park, but you may make more meaningful memories from a well thought out day near home.
Plan in advance for your next vacation
Start saving for your next vacation as soon as the last one ends. Make vacation savings a part of the family budget and get the kids involved in helping. They can cut coupons and have the savings go toward vacation. Set up a ‘thermometer’ type saving chart on the fridge so the whole family can see how the savings are mounting up. Let the kids come up with money saving ideas–they can be very creative!
If there is a special activity the kids want to do, such as zip lining or a Segway tour, have them save the money they’ll need for the outing. Or if they want something special to take on vacation such as a boogie board, have them save the money. It helps get them out of that sense of entitlement we see too frequently.
Plan your vacation in advance as much as possible. Maybe there are savings to be had by purchasing tickets to attractions in advance or by booking at off peak season times. Look for ways to make the vacation spending fit your budget, because once you are actually ON vacation it’s too easy to let the credit cards take over and the budget goes out the window!
Choosing the right time to book flights is important in keeping the prices as low as possible. Book the flight a few months in advance and try to book your flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday as prices are usually the lowest then. Browse through different airlines to get an idea of the price range, and then make an informed decision on which airline gives you the best deal.
We hope this helps you get the most out of your next vacation. As always it is important to remember the Catholic debt perspective, which is STAY OUT OF IT!
We pray for you to be smart about how you manage your money, and vacation spending is no exception. God bless and have a wonderful vacation with your loved ones, no matter where it is!