Fun Living on a Budget: Debt Free Vacations

by Staff Writer

A couple of years ago I would have said that it was impossible to go on vacation without racking up more debt.

I assumed everyone charged their vacations and took months to pay them off. How else can you afford that great vacation to paradise?

After making getting out of debt my single most important goal, I’ve realized vacations must be accounted for in your budget. Plain and simple. But when you account for vacation in your budget, debt-free vacations are a very real possibility.

Budgeting is a major part of my life now. But budgeting doesn’t have to limit the fun in your life. It just means that you need to plan in advance for everything that involves money. Yes vacations cost money, so they must be planned for in advance.

My Recent Example

We just returned from a 4 day adventure to see my grandparents and take in the wonderful fall colors of Michigan. We set a budget of $500 for the trip. Since we usually eat our meals at home, going out to eat is a big treat.

We decided on this vacation that we were not going to bring our own food (except the items required for our 10 month old). Food and gas were going to be the biggest expenses.  Lodging was cheap because we stayed in my parents 5th wheel trailer located on a camp site near my grandparents.

It’s in the woods, so it was sort of like camping. Remember, this was not just a vacation, but an adventure. This trip provided my 2 year old the treat of running around and exploring for hours.

How did we do?

Food – $250.00
Lodging – $89.00
Gas – $118.00

Total = $457

We didn’t buy any souvenirs, but we took a ton of picture to remember the trip.  The pictures are much cheaper and the memories are what really matter.  (personally, the mentality of needing to buy souvenirs has enough info to fill an entirely separate post) Seeing the kids with their Great Grandparents and having the chance to take great pictures was priceless.

The feeling you get after returning from a great trip and not having to look at the next credit card bill and cringe is so sweet.

If you’re living a budget, make a category for vacations and keep tossing some cash into it.  It will keep you sane, and provide you that much needed R&R.

Good luck and Happy Vacationing!!


Vinny Financio October 19, 2009 at

Happy to hear you had a great trip. I’m even more happy to hear it didn’t follow you home!

I agree, just because you have a “budget” doesn’t mean you don’t have any fun. In our case we have more fun because we know the money is there and we know it’s there to spend…so we do!

Jeffrey Kosola October 19, 2009 at

Well Vinny,
It won’t be too long until I join you at the debt freedom dinner table. It’s nice to know that you are having some fun with all the loot you have now 🙂 Please keep up the great work at your site and the insperation that you give us.

Money Funk October 20, 2009 at

It’s nice to beable to take a debt-free vacation. Now let’s see if I can follow the same great advice with my local trip to Disneyland this week ($72 a ticket – crazy, huh). 🙂

Jeffrey Kosola October 20, 2009 at

Good luck at Disneyland. I just looked up the cost of the Mickey Mouse Ears. They are going for $27.20. Are you kidding me. At the $72 per ticket level I’d think they would include a set of ears.

I have a few more years before my kids reach the age to take them. The tickets will probably be $100 by then.

Have a Magical time 🙂

Matt Jabs October 20, 2009 at

Way to go man!

Isn’t it amazing what we can do when we simply change our mindset?

Jeffrey Kosola October 20, 2009 at

I agree Matt,
I’ve been able make some really great things happen with a whole new look at the world. Some call it a “Coming to Jesus” moment, I call it a “Waking up to your Debt” moment.

Financial Samurai October 23, 2009 at

Nice job Jeff. Pretty inexpensive one indeed. Glad you got to see the leaves turn before the winter cold.

I’m up here at The Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe myself. It’s 65 degrees, sunny, and beautiful!

Too bad my cost is in the hundreds of thousands since I bought it! lol.

Best of luck in the deliveries this weekend! Whoo hooooo!


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