Why I Will Never Regret a Dime Spent on Vacations

HappyHomeownerGreatBarrierReef

Photo I took while diving in the Great Barrier Reef

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an insatiable desire to see the world. For me, seeing the world means traveling as much as possible and truly immersing myself in the local cultures and customs of the places I visit. This desire to travel the globe has turned into a reality where I’m usually either taking a trip, planning a trip, or just returning from a trip.

While this is certainly not a bad way to live, it can be an expensive one if you’re not careful with your travel expenditures. This is why I’m always on the lookout for the next big travel deal, why I get creative when it comes to paying for vacations, and why I’m constantly working to bring in more money in order to cover the costs of my various adventures.

After traipsing the globe and being fortunate enough to have set foot on five of the seven continents so far (Africa and Antarctica are in the works–especially after missing out on the Kilimanjaro trip last year due to a stupid stress fracture), I can say one thing: I don’t regret a single dime I’ve spent on my various vacations.

When I Buy a Vacation, I’m Paying for an Experience

Despite being a PF blogger and fully understanding how saving now is one of the only ways to guarantee a better financial future tomorrow, I still continue to spend around $10K or more each year on traveling. This is because I’m not out spending frivolously on clothes, bags, and shoes–I’m paying for an experience; one that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

If you ask me about the clothes I bought back when I was in my former spendaholic days, I couldn’t remember a single detail about any of them.

But if you ask me about the trips I took to Chile, Japan, Italy, Hawaii, and Australia during the same time period, I can pretty much regale each adventure in detail–from randomly going scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef instead of the snorkel trip I’d signed up for (I’d never even held a regulator in my mouth before, let alone actually went diving) to watching a car fly off the switchback of a mountain pass in Chile after getting a bit too overzealous about finally being able to drive down (the lanes are so narrow that they’ll stop traffic at the top where the ski resorts are and only open it after a certain time–let’s just say that it’s pure chaos when they finally set the cars free!).

In each case, I spent money to get to those places, and I spent more once there. Even if I broke the budget a bit, I’ve never once returned home to think, “Wow, I shouldn’t have spent so much” because I’m usually thinking, “Damn, that was a hell of an adventure!” I’ve of course gotten better with my budgeting system so now my trips don’t get in the way of other goals such as long-term and retirement savings, but I still don’t regret spending any of that money.

Money is a Tool for You to Live the Life You Dream of

My dreams have always included traveling, working for myself, and having a happy, loving family. I’m well on my way with the first two, and I know that my understanding that money is a tool has a lot to do with why I’ve been able to achieve these dreams. I no longer look at money as a means for instant gratification, a green light to spend myself into oblivion, or something that can be used/abused without consequence

If I had continued to abuse money, there’s no way I’d be able to travel so much. If I had continued to be intimidated and clueless about money, I would never have been able to quit my full-time job to become my own boss. Once I truly understood that I’m in control of my financial destiny, I began to use money as a tool that allows me to shape my life into the one I’ve always dreamed of living.

Considering that you can’t take a penny with you once you’ve passed away and that when you’re in your last hours the last thing you’re going to want to talk about with your family is your budget, I can’t imagine ever regretting the choice to fill my life with experiences and stories from my travels–even if it did cost me money to do so. I hope one day to instill this same love of adventure and realization about money in my future children so they, too, can live their own lives in the manner they dream of.

What are your thoughts on spending money on vacations? Yay or nay and why?

The Happy Homeowner

The Happy Homeowner

We're a team of freelancers who are on a mission to inspire others to live a healthy, balanced life one cent at a time. Work from The Happy Homeowner has been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Wisebread, Lifehacker, The Dr. Oz Show, Good Housekeeping Magazine and many other outlets.
The Happy Homeowner

46 thoughts on “Why I Will Never Regret a Dime Spent on Vacations

  • May 6, 2013 at 10:50 am
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    that is the only thing I never skimped on, even when I was saving aggressively. You don't need a lot to travel or have fun, there are ton on free stuff, you can book a ticket early and camp or couchsurf, so even if you are broken you can have a nice vacation.
    My recent post Help me help a reader get on track with her finances

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm
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      Yes, yes, YES!!! Thanks for pointing that out, Pauline. I'm always trying to make things cheaper so I can go see more

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  • May 6, 2013 at 10:52 am
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    I would say yay cautiously. I totally agree that spending on experiences is the best…and like you I have so many stories and memories, but the cautious part comes in when for the the last four years it's been SO hard to travel due to my limited income. So much of that is my fault, but when it comes down to it, my travel plans slide WAY down the scale when it comes to how I spend/save my money. Kind of frustrating. I keep saying next year (for an international trip)…next year…but when the year comes I get nervous about spending and don't end up planning the trip. It's something I'm not sure how to get past. All my extra savings goes into retirement and emergency savings, because history has shown that if I don't have enough in those buckets, I regret it.
    My recent post Ever been bullied into buying something?

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm
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      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Tonya–it's important for people to realize that there can be a balance achieved if you're willing to work for it. I commend you for prioritizing–you'll get that trip booked when it's the best time for you!

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  • May 6, 2013 at 11:10 am
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    I am right there with you Jen! There is just so much of the world to see and experience that makes the cost so worth it. I've always wanted to travel and was bit by the travel bug when my parents took us to Europe when I was 9. I'd much rather not spend on stupid stuff so we can spend it creating memories that will last for years and see so much of the world.

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm
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      Oh wow…Europe at 9, hot damn!! I went to France when I was 17, and I was totally manhandled by the travel bug after that…hahaha.

      And yes, I forgo the stupid stuff in lieu of adventures; wouldn't have it any other way

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  • May 6, 2013 at 11:25 am
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    I would love to travel more! Once we pay off our debt, I am hoping we can get some more travelling in :)

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  • May 6, 2013 at 11:45 am
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    I agree! My take on it is that if you are not in a good financial situation I don't recommend it. I just know I couldn't do it if I had cc bills coming out my ears and trouble keeping certain bills paid. I simply couldn't justify it. And I wouldn't be able to justify shopping or anything else I enjoy. If you do not have the money those are things that you can't have and I spent many years going without because I simply did not have it. If you are financially sound I think it's an amazing way to spend money. I never would have said that years ago because I was so cheap having come off of a time where I had so little but now I think it's totally worth it.
    My recent post You Know How I am

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm
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      So true! I did take a break from traveling while I was paying off the CCs and saving my downpayment fund, but I went a bit insane. Now, it's all about working hard to fit it in. If I want that trip to Bora Bora? I have to work my ass off to get the money saved before I go and in a way that won't mess up any other goals

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  • May 6, 2013 at 11:54 am
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    As you indicated on my post about the same subject today, I am all for splurging on the experience. I don't do it often, but why not. Save up for the opportunity to create a memorable experience and you will have no regrets. This is why we have money.
    My recent post When I Would Rather Spend Than Save

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm
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      I smiled so big when I saw your post–talk about the same wavelength!! :)

      Absolutely save up for it in advance but then go buck wild creating amazing memories–a good recipe for a life without regrets

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  • May 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm
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    I definitely vote yay for expensive vacations. Travelling is something that's important to me, and even though I haven't gone on vacation in awhile, I definitely plan to once my debt is paid off!

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm
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      The best part is that they don't even have to be expensive! You can go away for a weekend to some random place for pennies on the dollar (literally) if you do some research, get creative and lower your expectations for luxury. There are no 5-star hotels for this gal unless someone else is paying…haha.

      You're going to have some seriously awesome trips ahead of you–keep up the great work!!!

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  • May 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm
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    I don't see anything wrong with spending money on vacations also. I make money so that I can enjoy it also! :)

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm
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      Amen!! :)

      This is one of the many reasons I sometimes wonder if you're my secret twin

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  • May 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm
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    Amen to this! I always advocate that if you're going to spend money on anything, make it a vacation that everyone can remember. Some of the best experiences that I've ever had with my wife and kids were when we traveled. There really is nothing else that can replace those types of memories!
    My recent post My Dividend Stock Portfolio Update – May 2013

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm
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      Wahooo! Nobody talks about the clothes, the shoes, or even the souvenirs–they talk about the awesome trip you took and they want to see the photos so they can talk more about it. :)

      I love what you said about no replacements, too–it's so true!

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  • May 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm
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    For me it comes down to how it's being spent. Paying to lounge by an expensive pool elsewhere is not something I'd do. If I want to lounge by a pool I'll do it in my own backyard. But seeing new cultures and really getting the chance to live in them like a local is something that we value and are eager to incorporate more into our lives. Right now the limiting factor is time since our ideal travels are measured in months not days.
    My recent post I’m Riding A Bike To Work!

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:32 pm
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      Absolutely—I couldn't agree more. I get bored if I sit still too long, so my trips usually include activity, adventure and at least one backpack. Getting off the beaten path has always served me well

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  • May 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm
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    I totally agree, although I have gone too far the other way at times as well, spending way too much on my vacations. But I figure by being a little tighter now I can do even more awesome trips in the future, which is the thing I love to do most.

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm
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      Yep, tightening up now will only lead to bigger & better things when you have more freedom down the road. I don't really care about luxury–as long as I'm safe, I'm good to go!

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  • May 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm
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    I didn't go on many vacations as a kid, so traveling is on my to do list. However, I'm the type of person that can postpone pleasure to meet other tactical goals. Right now my priority is funding our down payment fund so we can buy a house. I want us to go on a vacation, but also want to make sure we meet our down payment fund goal. I think we are, so I need to bite the bullet and plan our vacation.
    My recent post Warren Buffett Says Women Need To Take More Credit

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm
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      You're definitely going to knock it out of the park with that goal–you're already doing so well!

      I took a break from traveling when I was saving my downpayment fund, too–it was a great choice that I'm happy I made. That being said, I'm seriously on the lookout for more options/adventures now that my home is in tact, my retirement in on track and my e-fund/long term savings keeps growing. I just work more to bring in more so the spending doesn't mess up the other goals :)

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  • May 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm
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    I agree experiences trump materialistic goods any day. I'm all for vacations, more with groups of friends since you're paying for experiences together (though that's becoming few and far between since a lot of people have families now). I wouldn't opt for all-inclusive resorts, though, but rather 'adventure' travel where I can hike and camp to my heart's content!

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm
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      I'm right there with you! Adventure is totally where it's at for me…and I love to camp and hike!!!

      Great point about sharing costs with others–that's definitely helped me go to more places

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    • May 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm
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      Oh yeah! The only way I stay in super nice places is if I have rewards points or somebody else pays for it…mwhahahaha… I once slept in a one-man tent on the beach! :)

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  • May 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm
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    We're big on travel and vacations because like you, we value the experience. I just told B the other day that the food we eat on vacation just seems to taste better! We don't stay in 5 star hotels but we figure if we already spent the money to get to the destination, we're going to spend the money to enjoy the experience.
    My recent post My $100 Wedding Dress

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    • May 7, 2013 at 10:00 am
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      Hahaha…I agree about the food tasting better! :)

      Yes, no 5-star hotels here either (unless they're free to me through rewards or somebody else pays..haha!).

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  • May 7, 2013 at 6:57 am
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    I agree with your points. I would rather spend money on experiences than on things. While $10K might sound like a lot to many, when you factor in that you aren't spending much on things and are still saving a lot of your money, it really isn't.
    My recent post The Importance of Waiting Giveaway

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    • May 7, 2013 at 10:00 am
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      So true! I knew there's a level of sticker shock with throwing that sum out there, but if I were to list all the trips I took for that little, I think people would be surprised. Looks like I have an idea for a future post–thanks! :)

      Reply
  • May 7, 2013 at 10:41 am
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    I like this a lot. I agree, there are days I can't even remember what I was wearing yesterday, let alone 5 years ago. But if anyone ever mentions Hong Kong, I am happy to share tons of details about my awesome trip.
    My recent post How to Make Money on Craigslist

    Reply
    • May 7, 2013 at 11:52 am
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      Funny how that happens, eh? :)

      I have Hong Kong on my list!! I'll have to email you for tips

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  • May 7, 2013 at 11:35 am
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    Absolutely true about the importance of creating amazing memories. As long as your spending habits aren't destructive, I see every reason to focus on what you're doing on vacations, instead of cost.

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    • May 7, 2013 at 11:53 am
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      Years of hard work have gotten me to this point, so I'm not about to mess it up now! That being said, with careful budgeting, you can fit most things in if you're creative and determined enough. I'm not opposed to working my butt off to bring in more cash for the extras, either!

      Reply
  • May 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm
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    I love your attitude about the experience being worth the expense. It's true, you will remember these trips your whole life — you'll be telling your grandkids about them one day. I find it hard to spend on vacations…but that's probably because I do it too infrequently (it becomes a "bigger deal" to go when you aren't used to it?). Our last trip was really expensive, but that's because it was the height of the season (Feb school vacation week). I ended up feeling like it wasn't worth the expense because of all the complaining SOMEONE did…
    My recent post The QuitClaim Cometh

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    • May 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm
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      Ugh…school vacation weeks are the worst but a necessary evil!!

      I do think that the more you travel, the more comfortable you become with the expense–and the better you become at finding savvy ways to pay for things. Even a quick road trip or a long weekend away can help start things in the right direction.

      Reply
  • May 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm
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    The world's biggest YAY from me!! We spend a good bulk of our "fun" money on vacations too. We love to travel and it's been so much fun showing the girls the world. This summer we're going on a Disney Cruise and spending a few extra days in the Mediterranean. So, so excited! I love this post so much, Jen, because it's exactly how I feel about money – "I no longer look at money as a means for instant gratification, a green light to spend myself into oblivion, or something that can be used/abused without consequence." You use it on what matters to you. :)
    My recent post How to Navigate the Financial World after Graduation

    Reply
    • May 7, 2013 at 6:34 pm
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      😀

      Thanks, Shannon! I'm looking forward to hearing about your cruise and Mediterranean adventures!!

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  • May 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm
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    "Money is a Tool for You to Live the Life You Dream of" Yes! I've never regretted money I've spent on travel. You only life once and I want to see as much of the world as I can while I'm still young and healthy enough to do so.

    Reply
  • May 10, 2013 at 10:50 am
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    I love vacations, but to me it's just another form of consumption (I don't say that with judgment). Some people REALLY want a Herman Miller chair that they can sit in for the rest of their life. Some people would rather spend that $1,500 on travel. Who's to say who's right or wrong? It's all groovy as long as you can afford it. 😉
    My recent post Apartment Therapy Small Cool Contest: You Could Win $3K

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