A Plastic Vacation

According to VacationKids, it costs about $5,000 to go to Disney, stay on property, and visit all the parks. Or, via Royal Caribbean, you could take a July 4th, 4 Night Bahama & Perfect Day Cruise in your own suite, for $3200.

As Americans, we don’t take as many vacations as some other citizens around the world. So, when we do, we have grand ideas of the sights we will see, the activities we will do, and the food we will eat. But how many times is that vacation paid in full ahead of time, rather than funded by a credit card?

According to a 2019 Experian Consumer Credit Review, the average American has $6,194 in credit card debt.

Sometimes these vacation ideals are the reason there is $6K on your credit card, other times it is the small stuff that just adds up. But let’s focus on vacations funded by plastic. What were the emotions tied to spending while you were on vacation? Was it the mentality of ‘I’ll deal with it when I get home.’? Was there guilt, shame, disappointment tied to the spending? Did that affect your ability to enjoy your vacation?

Now imagine a vacation that was fully funded ahead of time and would not be following you back home in the form of debt. Imagine the emotions tied to that kind of vacation. Would there be kinder words spoken to your children when they are begging for that toy? Would you have been able to enjoy that super expensive dinner just for that special experience that came along with it?

I don’t think we fully understand, comprehend, or recognize those emotions while we’re on vacation. It is just how it is. I remember our Disney trip in 2017. I was so frustrated that we got talked into flying on Delta with our friends, rather than going with the budget airline because they wanted to fly together. It didn’t even work out that way in the end because they tried to fly standby on the way back home!

That anger is still with me today! How stupid! And why? Because we shouldn’t have been taking that trip. It was not financially responsible at the time. I remember resigning myself as we were walking through the parks, thinking “I’ll just have to say yes to everything, or else I’ll be the mean mom/wife”. What a crappy position to be in.

Those feelings are what I remember more often than the fun and excitement of being at Disney World. Leading up to our vacations, we have the rose-colored glasses view of what it will be like, of the excitement, but they actually turn out to be blinders of the bad financial choices we’re making. Once they come off, the oh crap moment hits.

So what are the alternatives? How can we do vacation right? Well, start off by making it a family goal. We’re all struggling in the current environment and chomping at the bit to get out and go do something. Set your goal X number of months out. Chat with the family about what you’re willing to give up for that time to fund your vacation. Streaming services, sports, cable, dance, gymnastics, subscription services, eating out, get creative but work together! You can do it and you’ll be thanking yourself too.