Posted by: Kate | March 3, 2011

Money Talks: Vacations

As I made clear in my last post, this winter has got to me in a rather big way. And if I were like many other people out here on the coast, I would turn that into a valid reason for a trip to somewhere warm. So many people I talk to are going somewhere warm; mostly to Mexico although some go to Hawaii as well. I’m sure some of those people pay for the trip with cash, but considering how this town is hurting financially, I also am sure that a lot of those people are using credit to pay for the trip. When you ask most of these people why they are going on the trip they’ll talk about the cold winter, the warm water and sunshine awaiting them, the hard work they’ve done all winter, the need for a break. And that all sounds so good and so valid.

When I was young not many of my friends took family vacations out of the country. There would be the one kid whose family went to Disney Land, or the one whose family got to go to Hawaii. And they were so lucky!! But mostly the trips people took back then were driving trips to visit relatives. Today over half of the kids we know have been somewhere special, on a plane, just because.

I have some theories, as do other, more studied people than me. Media certainly plays a role, we see commercials and TV shows that convince us we too should be somewhere beautiful, or somewhere exotic, or somewhere that adventure awaits. We are a very wealthy people in comparison to so many, and we want to spend our money like there is no tomorrow. We also are told, over and over again, to use credit. Live for today!

It is so hard not to. Hard to watch the ads for warmer climates and not think “we should go”. Not think “we need to go”. Because there’s the rub. We have lost sight of what are needs, and what are wants. And that could very well be the ruin of us.

I’m adding here to say, vacations aren’t a bad thing. It’s just knowing where the money is going and why that is my problem. The ‘need’ to take one every year, sometimes twice a year, as a matter of course, is what concerns me. It’s symptomatic of the sense of entitlement that pervades western culture (and that I am not immune from by any stretch). We’re still planning on taking a vacation of our own with the money we’ve been saving for the last three years!



  1. I only know what works for me.
    travel – yes
    credit – no

    That being said, I also love being home.

    • And I think that when travel is a conscious priority, as it is for my dad, then it is a choice being made with clarity and thought. I think what I’m protesting is the knee-jerk reaction to ‘take a vacation’.

  2. I agree Kate. It’s been very hard raising a teenage boy that spent the first part of his life on credit. We take a vacation to go camping and when he wants to eat out every night and we mention the cost, he just says “so?” because there was never any limits before. I worry for how his generation will run this world (shoot, look how credit situations look NOW) having been raised in this consumption society.

    Of course, having grown up in high-powered Silcone Valley, where crass consumption was ahead of the times, when we were the exception because we hadn’t been to Disneyland or Hawaii, I recognize the irony — I was always so annoyed that my parents wouldn’t “just take us to Hawaii like everyone else.”

    I was actually shocked to discover about 5 years ago that my income makes me upper middle class in my area. I thought, how can that be possible when I drive a 9 year old car, live in the cheapest apartment I can find, and my vacations are driving to sleep on my sister’s couch? It made me realize just how much credit card debt it out there to get stuff NOW.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to hijack the comments! :~)

  3. It all goes along with the infamous Sense of Entitlement everyone has. Once you start looking for it, the ‘you deserve more’ mentality is everywhere. All an advertiser has to do is manufacture discontent, and then open for business and watch the money roll in.

  4. Well said, Kate. I always try to remember if I WANT or NEED. My dear Dad also taught us to pay cash, NOT use credit. I love the idea of a stay-cation, it is so beautiful here in B.C.

  5. we usually are traveling to visit family or friends, so that cuts down on costs, but if we take a big trip (like our trip to nyc the summer before last) we will do something like use our tax return, or sometimes brian gets some sort of “bonus” check from work and we will set that aside for travel.
    sometimes too, since my birthday is so close to christmas, i’ll just ask for money as presents to pay for a plane ticket or travel expenses.

    that said, i have also been known to put a plane ticket on my credit card.

    i guess like all things it’s about finding that balance… one plane ticket won’t ruin your credit, but if it becomes a habit, then we’ve got troubles.

  6. My husband and I are quite pleased that the only payments we have are for the house and our car. And the only reason we got a newer car is the old one was falling apart. Our motto is that if we can’t afford to pay cash for something we can’t really afford it. Now, we may charge things on a credit card (usually to get miles or points) but the balance gets paid off right away. We’ve gone to Japan and Egypt that way and have been diligently saving for a trip to Disney this June.

    I must admit that BC Canada is on my list of places to visit someday. :)

  7. Well said. Ever since college I’ve lived with a very strict policy that nothing goes on the credit card that cannot be paid off by the end of that month. Which means even if we had time, we wouldn’t take a ton of expensive vacations. There are places I want to visit and experience, both domestically and abroad, but I will do that when the time (and money) is right. That said, I do feel strongly that life shouldn’t be completely about need…that a little bit of want is okay. Balance is key…and most people in this country (and maybe yours) have no concept of that word when it comes to need/want and money.

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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