For those of us without paid time off or free ski passes as part of our employment, taking time off for a summer vacation can seem more stressful than the job. And sometimes, there are more important things to spend your time and money on.
Consider Shorter, More Frequent “Weekends Away” Instead
Last year, my fiancé (at the time) and I hadn’t had time or money to go away for a summer vacation. But as the end of September crept up on us, we decided we still needed to get away. So we pooled together a small amount, found a free weekend, and drove an hour south to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to spend the weekend in a lovely Bed & Breakfast. It wasn’t as restful as a full vacation, certainly, but it was enough to keep us going until Christmas, the big holiday in which we always take time off to visit family. Sometimes you have to pick your battles, and be realistic about what you can and cannot do. For us, a weekend away was doable, and a fair compromise.
Big Life Events Take Precedence
Weddings, Graduations, Funerals, and anything else that only comes along (typically) once in a lifetime, takes both money and time. Sometimes it’s just as much, if not more than, what you might otherwise spend to go away for a week. I, myself, just got married earlier this May, followed by a 10-day honeymoon in Las Vegas, Nevada. Believe me when I say – there are no extra funds for a summer vacation this year. However, it was entirely worth the sacrifice so that we could enjoy a leisurely honeymoon directly after the hectic planning and executing of a DIY, low-budget wedding. If you know you’ll be part of a wedding party, or a family member’s special day, consider saving that summer vacation for next year so you might better afford that once-in-a-lifetime event.
Don’t Blow You’re Emergency Money
I am an avid list-maker and budget-planner after years of being an impulsive 20-something consumer. If you have not set aside funds every month or dedicated your tax return specifically for the purpose of a summer vacation, then don’t do it. The extra money, both for the trip and to cover the time off from work, must come from somewhere, and it often comes from the emergency funds. With the aforementioned wedding, all our extra funds went to cover the costs of the wedding, including a few we did not foresee. However, we still have safety money “just in case”. Keep that emergency money, and start saving for next summer instead. Consider a free service such as Mint.com to help you save for next year. Also, this could allow you more joy, as apparently the act of planning a vacation renders more enjoyment than the vacation itself.
What Happens When “What If’s” Become “What Now’s”
There are plenty of uncertainties in life – natural disasters, medical issues, unexpected car malfunctions – but within your own scope, you may be able to gauge the likeliness of certain sudden changes. For my husband and I, we are contractors, which brings with it a wealth of instability and hidden dangers. When my husband lost his contract just before the wedding, we both knew what that meant: we’d be temporarily moving in with his parents in Texas. This was the plan all along, and had we made arrangements for a vacation, we’d be in real trouble. Moving eighteen hours away is a difficult enough trial, but attempting to relax when you’re uprooting your life? That’s near impossible. It’s worth it to prioritize your “What If’s” so that if they become “What Now’s,” you can still work with your vacation plans.
Ultimately, it comes down to proper planning and knowing that things are taken care of before you take the plunge. For us, we’ll definitely be waiting a couple of years before we’ve fully recovered financially.