SURVEY SAYS: Finances Affecting Vacation Plans

May 27, 2014 ( – Summer is upon us!

While many look forward to summer for the warmer weather, vacations, or more activities, a survey we recently covered reveal some feel more financial stress due to those vacations and added day care expenses or other children’s activities (see “Financial StressCould Dampen Summer Spirits”). Vacations can get expensive.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, is financial stress affecting your vacation plans, and what are you doing to reduce that expense?

Responding readers were evenly split, with 50% saying financial stress is affecting their vacation plans, and the other half saying it is not.

Asked which steps they are taking this year to reduce vacation costs, 23.1% of readers said they are cooking rather than eating out while on vacation. Nearly 18% each indicated they are driving rather than flying and/or taking a shorter vacation this year. Fifteen percent of responding readers are taking a “staycation,” staying at home instead of traveling somewhere, and 13% reported they are not taking a vacation at tall. Ten percent are staying with friends or family while on vacation rather than in a hotel, and 7.7% plan to do fewer activities while on vacation to save on cost. More than 20% said they are not taking any of these steps, and 15% listed other steps they are taking, including staying closer to home to reduce travel expenses, taking one longer vacation rather than two shorter trips, and cruising.

I asked NewsDash readers to share any tips they have for reducing vacation expenses, and responses included:

  • Try not to use credit card much
  • Cook as many of your own meals as possible. Get meal coupons from local newspapers
  • Stay somewhere that has at least limited kitchen facilities. Even if you just have your own beverages available you can save significantly. Eating in for one or two meals a day can make a huge difference in the vacation spending.
  • For the last several years, I've put my flexible spending account reimbursements into a separate savings account, and that funds most of the summer vacation.
  • Staying at a hotel that offers breakfast can save some money, especially with 3 kids.
  • Travel to destinations where you know people, preferably people who can provide lodging and local transportation!
  • driving instead of flying or (overseas) driving instead of taking the train
  • We live in Florida, so cruising is an inexpensive vacation. For less than $100/day, we get a floating hotel, entertainment, all the food we can eat, plus travel to "exotic ports of call." The way to save money is to NOT DRINK ALCOHOL because drinking is expensive. Plus, we pay for our vacations in advance over the year, so we can actually enjoy ourselves without worrying about how we'll pay for it later.
  • We budget all year for our vacation; putting aside money each month to pay for it. It also helps that my husband travels for business and we have enough Marriott points to cover our week's stay!
  • I research free activities in the areas that we travel to. Usually you can find a bunch of free activities even with a family.
  • spend some time planning (there was a recent survey that suggested people are spending more time planning vacations than planning for retirement, so perhaps there's hope). Check in with the local chamber of commerce and/or tourism agencies for lists of activities (and coupons!). Set a daily budget and stick with it!
  • To reduce vacation expenses, just don't go. Staycation is fine; you are not at work so that's a vacation in itself!
  • Make a budget, have a plan. Stick to them.


I will never understand why employees in exempt positions have such limited vacation time. Most of us work double-time before and after vacation because no one else is taking our full work load when we are out - so it's not even truly "vacation time" from work, we've just shifted our hours to before/after the vacation. I would love to see companies move to a more flexible vacation schedule.

Luckily, I no longer have to stress about the cost of vacation. It just my husband and me. The kids are both grown, out of college and working good jobs. This is the first time I upgraded to premium economy on our air tickets to Europe this summer. Yipee! Can't wait for the extra leg room.

My planned vacation is causing my financial stress! Here's hoping I can afford the vacation I planned.

With college-age kids the last decade, financial stress is not isolated to summer or Christmas!

My daughter is getting married in September. You can forget a vacation for the next 3 years. Instead, I will need a summer job.

We are a clergy family, on-call 24/7/365. The only way to really get away is to go beyond the reach of cell phones, etc. and far enough away that no one can expect us to come back to deal with the crisis du-jour. Cruising allows us to do that.

I'm not really sure why vacation should stress you out. If you can't afford to go, don't. How much money you've saved for vacation or other activities should dictate your choice of destination. Every place has cheap/free things to take advantage of that are fun.

We try to save throughout the year for summer childcare and other expenses to that it doesn't stress us out when the time comes. A little out of each paycheck versus all at once is a much easier pill to swallow.

Verbatim (cont.)

Thank goodness we have family that live on a lake! Our vacation expenses are usually higher in the winter as we try to escape the Minnesota cold.

This is one case where I practiced what I preached - I contributed extra to my 401(k) so that my retirement budget includes a fund earmarked for travel. I'm semi-retired and definitely enjoy having the money to travel, now that I also have the time.

I'm planning to take my family to Disney in December so we don't have any vacation plans this summer!

Vacation shouldn't be about saving money. Just like planning for retirement, you need to do some planning, you need to figure out how much money you need (it's called a BUDGET, people), and you need to have set the money aside for those activities. And you need to deal with contingencies (have you SEEN the gas prices??!!). But if you're going to stress about the expense of vacation, then you're defeating the purpose. In the inimitable words of the Eagles, "Take it Easy"....

There are nice places you can drive to rather than flying so that you still feel like you're on vacation.

Thanks for the memory jog. Gotta remember to write myself a note to have my co-workers email me tomorrow (Friday) reminding me to not come in on (Memorial Day) Monday. Sorry for interrupting. Now, what were you asking about vacations.....

My summer financial stress is caused by knowing that another college tuition payment is due at the end of the summer. Thankfully it's the last year for our youngest child.

Look to the motivations of the firms commissioning these kind of bs surveys. Think they're trying to sell us something under the guise of a journalist-friendly timely topic? Nah, couldn't be....;-). Enjoy your time off. You've (probably) earned it!


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.