Tell me if this sounds familiar. You look ahead and think about where you want to go on vacation. You take the time researching hotels, airfare, rental cars, and things to do in the area. You talk to the family about it and everyone is excited and is looking forward to a much needed break. As you get closer to the trip, you start to stress about not having as much money put aside for the trip as you wanted, but it is planned and everyone has been looking forward to it and you really need a break. You decide that you can do things like pick up stuff to make sandwiches or eat at less expensive restaurants.
Then the added costs start before you even leave your home, like getting an oil change, new wipers, and any additional maintenance/repairs on your car if you are driving. There might be animal boarding and care fees, purchasing of small containers for airline security, entertainment for traveling (books, games, coloring books), paying for the shuttles or parking at the airlines, check baggage fees, the price of something to eat or drink at the airport, more shuttle fees, different/more expensive car rental options then the one you booked – and all of this is before you even get to your hotel and get checked in.
Then there is the cost of the gas for the trip or to fill back up the rental car, the adventures and admissions to the attractions, meals for the family, snacks and ice cream when you are out and about, the increased cost of eating and drinking anything at the attraction, purchasing a t-shirt or sweatshirt, other souvenirs, gifts for family and friends or the people taking care of your home or pets. All of it just really adds up FAST!
In short it is no wonder that we come back from our vacations feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. Then the real fun starts, you now have a week or two with no paycheck and you are dealing with the bills that have come in while you were gone. And frequently we don’t realize how much we have spent until we get back and see the credit card statement. It can make you feel like throwing your arms up in the air in defeat.
Two tricks that we do when going on vacation to prevent overspending are:
1) Renting a place that has a kitchen, if we are driving we bring a bunch of prepared food with us, if we are flying we go to the store and get what we need (based on the menu). We always plan for a few special meals at restaurants, but most of our money is set aside for adventures.
2) We give each child a specific amount of money for spending for them to purchase things like t-shirts, sweatshirts, souvenirs, candy, caramel apples, and the such. This teaches them about budgeting, the consequences of spending money too fast, or the benefits of not spending money and having money for other things when they get home. This also helps the parents not to overspend on every little thing that the kids want.
The number one way to keep your vacation fun and stay out of debt is by creating a vacation planning account and a bill pay account to take away the stress and frustration of going on vacation. When you know that not only are your bills covered, but you have money set aside to enjoy making memories with your family, you truly get to relax and enjoy the time together.
If you are interested in learning more about how to truly enjoy your much needed vacation and stop stressing about finances when you get back, check out my Blue Collar Budget – which is specifically designed for those that do not get paid holiday, vacation, or sick time. In this resource, I share my step-by-step process to create not only a vacation and bill pay account, but a spending account and plan ahead expense account, too.