In the Great Land of Budgetopia, people plan for summer vacations, carefully allocating money each month to their vacation savings account.
For a majority of Americans, however, Budgetopia might as well be Never-Never Land. These vacation-deprived consumers cite several reasons, including a lack of time off work, the cost of trips and the inability to foot the bill.
Regular Vacations Are Healthy
Making time for regular trips or vacations with family and friends is a healthy habit. In fact, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found a correlation between people who vacation regularly and higher levels of well-being.
But Budgets Must Be Healthy, Too
So how can you take a vacation without blowing your budget or breaking into your piggybank?
For starters, we don’t recommend you join the one in six Americans who are willing to jeopardize their finances for a vacation. That’s right: 12 percent of people will forego paying bills, just to get away, this year! Shockingly, four percent of respondents to a recent consumer survey conducted on behalf of Tripping.com admitted they’d even skip a mortgage or rent payment to take a vacation.
Although we agree that fulfilling your dream of indulging in fresh-baked macaroons in Paris, learning about our country’s history in Philadelphia, hiking Mount Whitney or making amusement-park memories your children will remember forever is important, it’s not as important as maintaining a roof over your head worry-free.
Mission Possible: Vacation This Summer Even If You Haven’t Budgeted for It
Your yearning to take advantage of vacation time, even if you haven’t budgeted for it, can be satisfied this year — if you’re willing to look at alternative or cost-efficient escapes.
By now, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a staycation, popularized during the Great Recession. It can be eye opening to get to know your community in ways you haven’t experienced as a resident. Plus, you’ll save a bundle without paying for lodging, gas or airfare.
If you must pick up and go this summer, The Cheat Sheet suggests seven ways to get away without spending too much money. Among our favorites:
- Volunteer. The concept of giving back is a fundamental Christian tenant. So why not express a Christ-centered life by volunteering abroad to build homes, protect wildlife from poachers, build infrastructures in developing countries and more? If you’re game for an adventure, this could be the low-cost vacation your soul needs.
- Choose When You Book Wisely. Why spend the bulk of your limited vacation budget on airfare? Check out this infographic from Angie’s List to learn the best time to book flights. If you’re flying domestically, look six-to-eight weeks out. Flying out of the country? Give yourself a six-month buffer if possible.
- Staying Downtown Will Bring Down Your Buying Power. Sure, it’s convenient to lodge in the heart of a city. It’s also the most-expensive option. You still can absorb the best of what a destination has to offer by staying in the suburbs or on the outskirts of town. You might also learn more about how locals live by eating in their neighborhood restaurants, taking in a community play or simply walking around.
Now Get Organized for 2016
The average American spends $1,145 per person — or $4,580 for a family of four — on a vacation, according to American Express. With that guide in mind, you can set aside funds for next year. Start the planning process now, while you can conduct research, book hotels and airfare, and determine how much you’re willing to pay to get away. When the new year comes — or even during the balance of this year — you’ll know how much money to sock away into a high-yield vacation savings account every month.
With this plan in place, your biggest decision could be whether to visit a tropical locale, jump the pond for a European holiday, or even stay home and turn off your smartphone to truly get away.