Monday, July 4, 2016

Why Vacations Matter

This post was originally published here, on the HCF Blog, Among Women.

Summers were made for vacation, right?

Over on the HCF blog, Jodie Leigh shared great tips for traveling, especially with littles. Being prepared—mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually—is certainly key.

If you’re thinking: “We can’t travel anywhere! We don’t have any money! There’s no time!” my answer to you is this: Make it a priority; it’s worth it!

Vacations offer us a new perspective, rest for our soul, and the opportunity to make memories with our loved ones.

I don’t know why we have to leave town to get that kind of transformation, but we just do.

If you don’t think you have money to spend on vacation, consider this, you’re likely paying for a data plan on a smart phone, a Netflix account and internet, or a cable account—or some combination of all the above.

I’m not suggesting you cancel your cable and take a trip, but we pay for whatever we prioritize.

Howell and I didn’t have a lot of “extra” in our finances during our first few years of marriage, but we were raised in households that vacationed at least once a year. It didn’t have to be anywhere fancy—but getting out of town was a common practice we wanted to continue.

There are plenty of opportunities for vacationing that won’t break the bank:
  •           Go somewhere close
  •           Stay at hotels or motels that include breakfast
  •           Pack lunches
  •           Choose cheap entertainment opportunities

The biggest advice I would offer is to plan and save. Sometimes we have a place picked out where we know we want to go, and sometimes we just start to save—putting a few hundred dollars back each month. When we have X amount, we start “shopping” around: Where can we go that includes hotel, gas or flights, meals, etc. for this amount?

We’ve traveled to many great places (London, San Diego, Colorado, the Caribbean—and all over Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, of course!), but the trip with some of our best memories may very well be one of our cheapest vacations.

We went to Fort Davis in our first or second year of marriage. We drove about six hours in the car, so gas was fairly minimal, and we stayed somewhere cheap (but nice enough to include breakfast J). Our entertainment included a lot of free things—touring Fort Davis, hiking outside of Fort Davis, hiking Enchanted Rock, and walking around the shops in town.

We have several funny (and some embarrassing) memories from that trip, and I bet the whole weekend didn’t cost more than $300.

If you plan well and manage expectations (as Jodie suggested), then vacations give us a wonderful opportunity to let go of stress, forget about work and the laundry, and make memories with our family.

Your kids may or may not remember the $100 you spend on their shoes or jeans, but they will remember that time you went to six flags and ate turkey legs together.

Yes, it’s an investment. Yes, it’s time away from work and other responsibilities (and may require that you delegate). But it’s worth it!