Life is Short. So Why not Live a Little and Take Some Trips?

That’s a loaded question for sure. Because, if you’ve been stressed at work recently or if you just need a break from your day-to-day life, a vacation is just what you need. But if you’re struggling to make ends meet, putting out more money than you have for a trip may just add to your stress. So what can you do if you’re in the latter situation? Is is still worth it to go on a vacation? Are there other options?

In my opinion, the quick answer is: if you can’t afford to pay cash for the trip, don’t go. But there are other things you can do.

For the longer version, and for the other ideas, keep reading. And if you’re on the fence about your current situation, hopefully I can help to sway you one way or the other.

Vacations are Not Needs.

The first myth or misconception that we need to dispel immediately is that a vacation is a necessity. It is not! Is it a nice thing to do? And is it a great way to make memories? Yes, and yes. But don’t fall into the trap of equating a need like food and shelter with a luxury like vacations. You don’t deserve a vacation just because you’ve been working hard.

A vacation is considered to be entertainment. It’s something for which you should never go into debt. And yet, every year, Americans hit the highways or the friendly skies for the mountains or the beach with money they don’t yet have. It’s the attitude that they deserve nice things that has landed them in financial trouble. And it’s decisions like these (paying for a vacation with credit) that will keep you broke.

Pay for Vacations with Cash.

The year before I was to be terminated at my job, my family did not take a vacation. We were facing a difficult situation in which my income was potentially gone. Now it didn’t work out that way in the end, but we didn’t know that at the time.

Because we don’t borrow money, we knew that any trip we took would have to paid for in cash. But if you’re facing a loss of income, you’ll probably need any money you can get your hands on. So for us, the decision was easy. No vacation.

You might think, in a situation like that, with all that stress, a get away would be very therapeutic. But that’s the attitude that has led many into the trap of credit and debt. I think it’s better to have a trip be a reward than to be punished later with more debt payments.

I can’t stress this enough. Pay for entertainment and vacations with cash that you currently have!! Don’t go into debt for a trip!!

So What About These Other Vacation Options?

You can do what my family and I did that year. We did basically nothing according to my wife. But I still had days off from work. So we did some little things.

  • We hosted friends from out of state.
    • They came for a couple days, and we didn’t do anything elaborate. We played games and watched movies. Our kids are about the same age, and they had fun just playing around the house and the yard.
  • We got caught up with some home improvement projects.
    • We had a bathroom that need renovating, and we already had the materials on hand. I just needed time to finish the project.
    • I also was able to spend some time in the garage shop puttering around, and organizing my tools – something that was long overdue.
  • We had some family time.
    • We played games together.
    • And we went on some walks, and to the park.
    • And we also watched movies.

If none of the above things are really your thing, try these ideas.

  • You can go camping in your backyard.
    • This costs very little money, and as a bonus, if you can’t sleep, you can always bail and sleep in your own bed.
  • Check out some of the local attractions that your area has to offer.
    • Some of these may cost a little bit of money, but I’m sure it’ll be less than the cost of a full vacation.
  • Send the kids to perhaps the grandparents for a night or two, and enjoy the peace and quiet while they’re gone.

A Vacation is Really Just a Break from the Routine.

In the end think about what a vacation does for you. It really just gives you a chance to get away and de-stress – hopefully (some trips are not always stress free). And if you plan right, you can give yourself a break at home. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to relieve some of your stress.

Don’t get caught up in the “keeping up with the Jones” when it comes to vacations and trips. The Jones don’t know it’s a contest, and you’ll waste money you don’t have trying to impress someone who won’t even notice. It’s just not worth it.

Pay cash for your vacations, or don’t go. It really is that simple.

Are you in the habit of paying cash for trips? Or do you finance them and worry about paying them off later?


Chris is the original Cash Dad. He's a father of 3 and a mechanical engineer by trade.

Have Something to Say? Leave a Reply