Not fully recovered from jet lag, I’m still trying to get back in the swing of things just three days after returning from a ten day vacation.
It was lovely and wonderful and all sorts of cool. We saw incredible sights, hiked, snorkeled, dined on delicious food, shopped, and enjoyed a bit of adventure too.
And guess what? When we came home, the only thing we brought with us were memories and souvenirs, NOT DEBT!
Our entire trip – flights, accommodations, transportation, food, tours, gifts, and entertainment – was all paid for with cash. No, of course we didn’t traipse around with thousands of dollars in our wallets, but we had the money for everything we bought. And it felt good. Actually great! We packed a lot of things for this trip, but guilt wasn’t one of them.
I tell you this not to brag, but to share encouragement that it can be done. At almost fifty years of age (I can’t believe THIS birthday is right around the corner!), I can honestly say it’s the first time I’ve taken a trip of this magnitude without any lingering post-trip financial obligations. My husband and I decided if we couldn’t ‘cash flow’ the trip, we weren’t going, and we meant it. Thankfully, with a lot of hard work and planning, it came to fruition.
Memories and Souvenirs
On the flight home, Lindon and I had time to chat. What wonderful memories we created. There was the moment when I got to experience one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. It was so exquisite that it took my breath away. For once, this girl was stunned into silence! There were spectacular rainbows; one looked so close I thought I could touch it. My tummy hurt from belly-aching laughs and my heart swelled with joy as my husband and I baptized each other in the Pacific Ocean. It was a dream I’d held on to for almost eight years and I was overwhelmed with emotion when it finally came true.
I bought an extra bag to carry home all the souvenirs we collected for friends and family. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive, just thoughtful, and I find so much pleasure in choosing just the right gift for each person. What a blast!
Memories and Souvenirs…. THAT’S WHAT WE BROUGHT HOME!
5 Tips to Avoid Vacation Debt
This trip was a long time in planning. Over thirteen months in the works, we had ample time to get our finances in order. Here are some tips to help you do the same:
Tip #1 – Plan Realistically. As you discuss your vacation ideas, be sure to add up all costs associated with your trip, even taking into consideration extras such as gas for the rental car and tipping. It all adds up and adds up quickly.
Tip #2 – Plan For The Unexpected. My husband’s rule of thumb is to add 15% to your total. If you’re ahead of the game after your trip is over, so be it, but I can tell you from experience his 15% overage has saved us time and time again from falling short on our budgeting. Plus, it’s nice to have some wiggle room! A bookkeeper by trade, I like dealing with exact numbers and used to fight against his philosophy. Not anymore.
Tip #3 – Plan Ahead. Start planning far enough ahead to set aside money each month for your trip. If you can’t make it happen in twelve months, then consider pushing your trip out another six or nine months. There’s no magic formula, but rather just an estimate for how much everything will cost divided by how much you can save each month.
Tip -#4 – Revise Your Plans. What if your dream vacation will take five years of saving and you just aren’t willing to wait that long? It might be time to adjust your vacation expectations! This isn’t to say you won’t eventually enjoy the trip of a lifetime, but a smaller trip or two while you’re saving up for the big one might satiate your appetite… temporarily! Also keep in mind, your finances could change along the way for the better. A salary increase or debt payoff could free up some additional funds and speed things along.
Tip #5 – Stick To Your Plans. Waiting is hard. Sometimes it feels near impossible. But there’s no point in making plans if you aren’t going to stick to them. The goal is to take a vacation you can feel good about, from start to finish, even AFTER you are home!
Do you see a theme here? Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan and declutter vacation debt before you even leave!
The Borrower Is Slave
Why is a debt-free vacation so important?
“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7
To be in debt is to be subject to comply with and follow the rules of those whom you are indebted to. With financial debt, you’re giving power away to the wrong people and the bondage that comes from this arrangement is strangling. Our wants and desires feed into the appeal…
“0% interest for 18 months”
“No payment for 1 year”
“Easy payment terms”
Credit cards are easy to obtain and even easier to abuse. And instead of fulfilling your dreams, they are bent on destroying them by sabotaging your financial freedom. Do you really think Chase Bank WANTS you to take your dream vacation? Or Bank of America CARES if you get to relax in the Caribbean for a week? Of course not! You are nothing but a dollar sign to them. The only concern they have is to make money off of you, and rest assured, they will use whatever means they can to reel you in and suck you dry.
In Debt To A Giver
This world is full of takers, but thankfully, we have a giving God who has sacrificed on our behalf. He cares for us deeply; so much so, that He gave His only Son that we may live with grace, freedom, and the promise of eternity. My desire to please Him comes from a healthy obedience and appreciation. I’m more interested in what I can give, not what I’m going to get.
And I think that’s the whole point here.
God calls us to be good stewards of our money, HIS money, and expects us to handle it wisely. Serving Him with reverence in this area not only brings a sense of personal contentment and joy, but it also produces abundant blessings and power to find victory over sinful nature. With God, we truly get so much more than we give.
Determination And Discipline
So how did I get from sharing my experience on an island paradise to talking about God? Because the sole reason we are here is to glorify God in all we do, and being fiscally responsible is one way we can shine God’s light.
It’s not rocket science friends, but it does take determination and discipline. Don’t give your hard-earned money, or even money not earned yet, over to worldly desires and people who don’t have your best interests at heart. Instead, take pleasure in your commitment to honoring God with wise decisions. Before you know it, dreams will come true AND you’ll be able to enjoy a debt-free, guilt-free vacation of a lifetime. Honor God in all you do and the blessings will come.