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  1. #1

    Going on Vacation When You’re in Debt

    Cancel the Vacation Because You're in Debt?

    These days it seems like everyone has an opinion about whether you should vacation when you’re in debt.

    Basically there are two schools of thought:

    1. Nobody Should Vacation if They're In Debt. Folks in this camp believe you shouldn’t travel or spend any money on trips when you’re in debt. They general consensus is, "If you're in debt, your number one goal and priority should be paying off debt, not going on vacation." That means you shouldn't go anywhere until your debt is paid in full.

    2. You Only Live Once. People from this school of thought believe that life is short, so you should continue to vacation despite having debt. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so you shouldn't deprive yourself of the things you want now, because you might not get to enjoy them later.

    Now I’m not one to take an all or nothing approach about important decisions, especially about ones that impact my life and my finances. So when I was paying off my debt, I developed a "hybrid approach" that allowed me to vacation, but keep spending to a minimum. I went on small trips, but kept myself on a strict budget so I could continue paying down my debt.



    Tips for Vacationing on a Budget

    1. Set a Budget. While you’re still in debt it’s important that you don’t overspend your “vacation budget”. Set aside individual categories in your budget for food, transportation, lodging, entertainment etc. Don’t allow yourself to overspend just because you’re on vacation.

    2. Skip Souvenirs. Nobody “needs” a neon tee-shirt or a water globe. If you must buy something for friends and family, stick to postcards. Everyone likes getting mail that isn’t a bill and you can purchase a whole stack of postcards for less than $5.00.

    3. Stay Local. You don’t have to go far away from home to have a good time. There are plenty of things to see and do in and around your hometown or city. Even if you live in a rural area, there are probably attractions within a short drive that you haven’t seen or enjoyed. Ask friends and family for a list of the places they take friends when they're visiting town.

    4. Check the Deal Sites. Watch the deal sites like Groupon and Living Social for dining and entertainment deals in the area you’ll be visiting. A $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant that you paid $25 for really stretches your food budget.

    5. Watch Fares. Many of the online travel sites will let you set up a custom search that alerts you via e-mail when a flight or hotel you want to book goes on sale. They'll also show you the most expensive and cheapest the flight you plan to book has been over the past few months.

    6. Use Your Network. After airfare, hotels can be the most expensive part of vacationing. Plan your vacation so that you can stay with friends and family. If you have several friends or family members in the same location, divide your time among them so you don’t over burden anyone or “wear out your welcome” with a long stay.

    7. Consider Bed & Breakfasts. Especially during the “off season". I was surprised to learn that many of the small “mom and pop” owned B&Bs offer really reasonable rates during the off season. Consider calling several to see what kind of deals they’re offering. You might find that they can offer you a better rate than the local hotel chains.

    8. Stay at Hotels With Free Breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when you’re on vacation you want to have plenty of energy to explore. Some hotels offer a free continental breakfast. I’ve seen everything from cereal and toast, to eggs, waffles and a make your own omelet bar. If your hotel does offer breakfast, stick a piece of fruit or granola bar in your bag for later. Snacks can be a budget buster when you’re on vacation.

  2. #2
    Registered User Enthusiast
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    64
    I do really cheap vacations. Obviously I can't afford to fly to Europe or anything crazy like that, but little day trips here and there that cost maybe $100-200 aren't going to set me back that much. Most of my days off I spend sitting in the house being bored since I don't have a lot of money but I'm not going to never do anything just because I have debt.

  3. #3
    Registered User Enthusiast
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    69
    I used to have the you only live once mentality. I'd go on vacation and spend so much money and justify it because I was on vacation. Just like when you're on vacation and cheat on your diet and it "doesn't count" because you're on vacation, that was me with my money. Now that my cards are maxed out vacations are pretty much out of the question.

  4. #4
    Registered User Junior Member
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    43
    I'm not in debt and I still hardly go on vacation. When I do, its cheap stuff like camping. People spend way to much on vacations that they can't afford.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by byedebt View Post
    I do really cheap vacations. Obviously I can't afford to fly to Europe or anything crazy like that, but little day trips here and there that cost maybe $100-200 aren't going to set me back that much.
    The cheap vacations can be just as much fun as the expensive ones. It's the memories and company that counts.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by OneMoreDollar View Post
    People spend way to much on vacations that they can't afford.
    Agreed! I have no idea why some people spend so much on vacations. We love to travel, but we always try to do so on a budget, even now that we're debt free.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaR View Post
    Just like when you're on vacation and cheat on your diet and it "doesn't count" because you're on vacation, that was me with my money.
    I hear you! It's really easy to let vacations mess up your finances and your diet! Calories on vacation don't count right ;-)

  8. #8
    Registered User Junior Member
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    34
    I would just add "Pay for the vacation with the credit card points you earned getting yourself into debt".

  9. #9
    Registered User Enthusiast
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    64
    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer1107 View Post
    I would just add "Pay for the vacation with the credit card points you earned getting yourself into debt".
    I wish I got points on my student loans! That's a cool idea though.

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