It probably is a good idea to use vacation money to pay bills, especially if you are in debt. But being financially responsible doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to deprive yourself or your family of a relaxing vacation.
If you find yourself in need of a vacation without the money to finance it, before you cancel your vacation plans altogether, here are 5 simple things you can do to keep your vacation plans on track.
Barter for your vacation.
If you have a special talent or service that you can provide (with little financial output), then consider bartering for your vacation money.
Sites like Craigslist, The Barter Blog, Trade Away, Barter Your Services enable you to place and read barter ads that will help you find somewhere nice to stay — in exchange for something (a product or service that you can provide). Some of these sites are barter exchange clubs that will allow you to earn barter dollars for a service or trade, then you can spend those barter dollars on travel or other wants and needs. (NOTE: Barter dollars must be reported as income on your tax return.)
Take advantage of frequent flier miles.
CNN helps you get the most out of your frequent flier miles by providing a few important rules you should follow. If you don’t have enough frequent flyer miles saved up yet, Delta shares some great tips for getting more frequent flier miles. (These tips can easily be applied to other airlines.)
Whether you are traveling by air or by car, excessive baggage will cost you extra money. Airlines now charge extra for checked luggage. And, gas mileage decreases as your car gets heavier. Therefore, when you pack for your vacation, think light. And take clothing items that can be worn multiple times and washed by hand.
Check out Onebag.com. It’s a website that teaches “the art and science of traveling light" as well as the reasons why it is so important to travel light.
Vacation close to home.
You don’t necessarily have to travel far in order to have a vacation. Use your paid time off from work to enjoy some local sites and activities near your home. Spend a day in the closest big city. Spend a day at the nearest beach or lake. Climb a nearby mountain. Visit a national park. You get the idea.
GORP has a great search engine that will help you find entertainment and relaxation close to your home.
Stay home and do fun activities together.
If a vacation of any kind is out of the question, then consider spending time together at home. Watch your favorite movies. Take walks in the park. Have a picnic on the lawn. Vacation time can be more about spending time together than spending money together. Do crafts all day, every day. A fun thing to do might be to eliminate all regular "household rules" for a week. For example, let the kids stay up late, eat with their fingers, and do other things you wouldn’t normally do.
If you have young children, the Family Fun site has great ideas for turning a regular week at home into a "vacation".