Stretching Your Vacation Dollar

Americans are notorious for not using all their vacation time and in 2015 it was estimated that there were 658 Million unused vacation days at the end of the year according to Project Time Off.  Employee site too much work, lack of support and budget as reasons for not taking time off.  While we can’t control your work situation we can provide some value vacation ideas to ensure money is not holding you back.

Staycation or Local Trip

Staycations are becoming more popular as we take fewer days off, want to maximize our budget or if we can’t coordinate extended vacation with loved ones.  The idea of a staycation is that you enjoy time at home or in your hometown enjoying activities that you normally miss.  Some staycation ideas include:

  • Create an at home spa day
  • Visit local museums and attractions
  • Host a backyard party with friends
  • Enjoy a local sporting event

Local trips or day trips can also work in a staycation since you are not away from home over night.  Explore state parks, zoos, historical markers or travel a further distance to try that restaurant you have always hear about.  The key to a staycation is to have something planned each day to look forward to and try something outside of your normal routine.


Vacations can come in all types of shapes, sizes and budgets.  If you have a dream vacation like going to Italy or a safari then consider saving money up for a year to two and enjoy a staycation while you are saving.

Vacations are expensive due to two primary factors: air travel and hotel.  When planning a vacation consider if it is just the point of getting away or the need to visit a specific place.  If you can book your air travel on less traveled days like Tuesday and you plan in advance you might get a better bargain.  As for hotel, think about much time you are spending in the hotel.  Will you be gone all day and only sleep there?  Or is the hotel the main attraction because it’s a resort?

Food can sometimes be tricky on vacation because you don’t want to cook, but unless the food is part of the experience (or you are a Foodie) then it can also stretch your budget.  If you can plan for a small breakfast and enjoy nicer venues for lunch instead of dinner.  By going at lunch, you still get to enjoy the great food and atmosphere, but portions are smaller and less pricey.

Planning for your vacation spending is key because you don’t want to be paying for that nice vacation months later when you have returned home.

Continue the conversation with us at our podcast where we talk to Holly Johnson of Club Thrifty where she talks about personal finance along her passion for travel.