LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Vacation value
Vacation time comes around annually, giving us the opportunity to rest from work, school or whatever is our consuming interest. It is a time to relax, celebrate the past year and recreate our interests and passions for the years ahead.
Here are seven pointers for maximising the value of the vacation period:
1. First and foremost, ensure that your vacation is spent in a way that is best for you. If plans to travel include the company of relatives, friends or associates, be willing to make reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate others. However, make the vacation create value for you. Your best friend may just have had a grand time shopping in New York, or your workmate may be raving about the luxurious cruise, but is that what you really want?
2. Think carefully about what kind of vacation would be best for you at the time. Consider the nature of your vacation time. Will it include adventure, exploration, celebration, shopping, quality time with family or friends, sports, exercise or relaxation, for example?
3. Consider your vacation budget: how much can you afford to spend? Smart money planners would have been saving beforehand towards funding the related costs. Additional funds may be borrowed, or some vacation costs charged to a credit card, provided that you can see how you can repay the debt over no more than say, the next six months. Ultimately, the total amount of funds estimated for this vacation would serve as the vacation budget total.
4. Given this budget total, try to draw up a daily itinerary projection of how the various days of your vacation would be spent: at home, or going out locally, or travelling overseas. Would local or overseas accommodation, meals and travel be needed and so on? This step will help to match your planned vacation with the nature of the vacation which you would really like. Estimating and totalling the daily cost of the planned activities, plus allowing for a contingency amount, should be equal to or less than the vacation budget total.
5. Some adjustments may have to be made. First, you may be guided and motivated to save more over the next year in order to enjoy a more valuable vacation. On the other hand, you may need to contain cost by spending more of the time at home, and curtailing expensive activities for the current year (or even, say, every other year) in order to afford a more valuable vacation the following year. Furthermore, you may contain vacation costs for a number of years if your financial focus is on meeting your university education expenses, or repaying debt such as a car loan or second mortgage.
6. Accommodation: staying at home can fully save on additional accommodation. Alternately, a local staycation may cost more, yet can be a significant change of scene that adds real value without the cost of overseas travel. Vacations spent in the country provide the opportunity to get to know the island just like tourists. Car and bus trips can be fun and local restaurants and eating places are there to be sampled within budget constraints.
7. Once you are welcome, overseas accommodation costs may be less when you arrange to stay with relatives or friends. I encourage you to express your gratitude by contributing or giving back to them in some way. You may also seek cheaper accommodation at budget hotels or on websites like www.airbnb.com and www.homeaway.com which can provide from a room to a house at typically reduced costs compared to a hotel.
• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances. This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.