Each year, millions of Americans take a week-long summer vacation. This has been a tradition in our family for years; however, we have decided to try a new approach this year. The reason simply boils down to cost and getting the most enjoyment for our budget.
Traditional Summer Vacation
Our standard vacation was to purchase two round trip airline tickets, which usually cost a total of $500. Most of the hotels would average $100 per night for the seven nights. We would also spend $80 per day for food, as we were eating out all three meals per day and would have a few nicer meals during the week. Additionally, we would visit shows or local attractions spending more than $60 per day. While we enjoyed this week, and it was fun to immerse ourselves into a new city, it was a bit overwhelming too. By trying to cram so many things in a short period of time, we were rushed not fully enjoying the time. We also tried to fill each day with an activity as to not waste time instead of really evaluating if it was something we really wanted to do.
Between the $500 airfare, $700 for hotel, $560+ for food, and $420 for entertainment, our summer vacation cost more than $2500 after including the small incidental expenses. Instead of spending all the money in one burst, we decided to space that out throughout the year.
- Season Tickets – The local theater circuit has a season pass for $360 which is a fantastic deal given that it creates 10 good evenings per year. We were also able to afford tickets to the local semi-professional sports league which cost $300 providing many more evenings of entertainment.
- Local Deals – Next we kept money aside for the the special deals in or around our area. As our time was flexible, we were able to get a lot of two-for-one deals. We also bought gift cards/discounts to restaurants allowing us to significantly save over what we would have spent by jamming all our enjoyment in a single week. In a year we’ll spend about $1000 on the local deals getting at least double that value had we paid normal prices.
- Weekend Trips – One area that was missing was seeing new areas so we began taking short weekend trips that we could drive to in a couple hours. We would usually try to coordinate this with either a festival or concert that we wanted to attend.
While many people would assume that skipping vacation would lead to less enjoyment or fun throughout the year, we found the exact opposite. By spending smaller amounts of money throughout the year, we always seemed to have enjoyable activities coming up, and we avoid the dreadful feeling that occurs on the last day of vacation when the time and money is gone, and you know you have to work another year before you can have another vacation again.