Oh, Yes. You Can Afford Vacation.

P:TO Takeaway

Not taking vacation because of how much it costs? Think again. With the right tools, anyone can use their vacation days (and everyone should!).


Maybe I can’t guarantee you a whirlwind multi-week Italian extravaganza a la Lizzie McGuire. But if you’re one of the 52% of Americans who leave vacation days on the table and cite the cost of travel as a reason why, spoiler alert, oh, yes, you can afford vacation. Are you a planner, a road tripper, or a staycationer? Read on to determine the best game plan for your vacation goals.

You’re okay with delayed gratification. The buildup to a trip is half the fun!  As a planner, your biggest asset is time. The time you have to give your boss notice, making it easier for them to say yes—something 91% of managers want to do! And the time to save enough money for a vacation, making it a financially feasible option.

  • Block your calendar now. If you want to avoid the crush of meetings, make yourself unavailable for when you think you would like to get away. Even if you don’t know the exact dates, you can give yourself the opportunity. Just don’t wait too long—once you’re sure, send the request to your boss right away so they have plenty of time to approve those days!
  • Make small daily changes and track them. Purposefully bring in your lunch to work one day and make a note of how much you saved. Skip your cappuccino, brew from home, and make a note of how much you saved. At the end of the week, add it up and set that saved money in an account dedicated to your vacation. You can also set up an auto-payment directly from your paycheck to watch the dollars add up even faster.

Road Tripper
A short and sweet long weekend is just what you need to recharge. You don’t have to go far, but just far enough to give yourself a mental break from the daily grind. As a road tripper, the ease of your trip is its advantage.

  • Grab a local map and point. The key to affording this trip is that the destination is within driving distance. Don’t have a car? If you’re 25 years or older, renting a car is an option, especially if splitting with other people. Otherwise, car sharing services like Maven or Zipcar are available in most larger cities.
  • Wander and explore. Once you get to your destination, keep it simple (and inexpensive!) and explore the town by trying out local spots. America’s unused vacation time (cough—705 million unused days—cough cough) has the potential to create nearly two million jobs, so you know whatever money you spend here is going that extra mile for the economy.

Vacation for you isn’t synonymous with far flung destinations—it’s a state of mind. You could actually spend nothing on this vacation and still come away with all the benefits, like reducing stress and increasing your productivity.

  • Luxuriate in doing nothing. Wake up late, cook yourself breakfast, walk to your local coffee shop for a mid-morning pick-me-up with a book in tow. It’s already noon and you’ve spent less than you would normally spend on your commute to work.
  • Be a tourist in your own city. Use a weekday to go to that museum that is usually overflowing with people on the weekend. Explore that neighborhood you always wonder about. Treat yourself to a massage at the hotel spa you’ve walked by countless times. There are so many activities we always tell ourselves we’re going to do (that don’t have to break the bank). Now is your opportunity to see your city with new eyes!

And while it’s better to use your vacation days for anything than not at all, Americans who travel with their time off versus stay home are happier, less stressed, and more successful at work. With that kind of ROI, you can’t afford not to travel.

In the end, cost doesn’t have to be a barrier to using your vacation days. We know that everyone has a budget. All it takes to use those vacation days is a little planning with a dash of creativity. No matter how you do it, planning for and budgeting is going to help make that vacation happen for you.

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