How to afford a vacation on a budget

by Erika Torres

I made it happen. One of my goals this year was to finally go on a real honeymoon with Eric. It honestly didn’t look like it was going to happen, but I was determined. And I made it happen.

I know what you’re all thinking. How the heck can you afford a vacation when you’re barely making ends meet?

And I’m here to tell you, It’s because I’m barely making ends meet that I can afford a vacation. We’re barely spending any money on extras. All our funds are going to needs, not wants. I know some people prefer spending money on clothes, or mani-pedis, or small indulgences, and while I do miss those things (like, so much)–for right now, I am okay with forgoing all of that with the knowledge that by the end of this year, I will finally be on a honeymoon, more than a year and a half since we got married!

Let’s take a look at our current budget as a one-income family:

So far this month, we’ve only spent half of our “Extra” money. By continuously making a conscious effort to live as frugally as possible, we’ll be making my dream to go on a vaacation a reality.

I know there are people out there who subscribe to the Dave Ramsey mantra of you shouldn’t be able to enjoy life until you pay off all your debt, and I’m just not one of them. People have different priorities. We continue to pay our car payment, my student loans, and Eric’s schooling. Could we use the money that we’ll be spending on our vacation to pay off our debt faster? Yes, of course.

But we will never be able to regain this time. There are so many places and things I want to do before we have kids. If I keep waiting until we pay off our debt to finally go on vacation, it will be time to start popping out kids, and then all your money goes to them, and there’s always someone or something else that takes your priority. That’s the thing with vacations, unless you make them a priority–it’s so easy to just never take one. Because it’s an indulgence, something you don’t need.

But I love traveling. Like love it. Every time I have a friend that moves somewhere new, I always make it a point to go and visit, because then you have a free place to stay! So far I’ve been to England, Italy, Australia, the Bahamas, Cabo, Hawaii, and I have no plans to stop traveling now just because I’m poor. I really wish I had a friend moving to New Zealand. I always dreamed of visiting the amazing islands and hope it will be our next destination.  Plus, I have already looked it up and I have found Auckland airline tickets at a really affordable price. But who knows, maybe this time we might have enough savings for a road trip just the two of us. ’Cause you know, money, psh – such a trivial thing, really. (I kid, I kid).

The point is–we could be living slightly more comfortable right now if we weren’t planning on going on vacation. But since we’re making tons of sacrifices anyway, in the grand scheme of things, what’s a few more to be able to afford a honeymoon?

It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It makes saying “Oh no I can’t buy those shoes because we’re going to Costa Rica in December.”


YES! Our flights are booked and we’re going for 8 full days to Costa Rica!! More details to come…

Do you make sacrifices to go on vacation? Do you make traveling a priority? Do you agree with my reasoning for taking a vacation, or do you think we should be contributing toward our debt instead?


Karen July 3, 2012 - 2:18 am

Whereas some people consider travelling a vice, because so much money can be spent if you go travel far, I consider it a priority. Once you make certain life changes, it makes it harder to travel more. I am heading off to Peru in September as birthday gift to myself, so I have definitely made some sacrifices to save for it. I went to Costa Rica a couple of years with the bf and it was so beautiful. Be sure to add try surfing if you haven’t already done so. I found is super hard but still a lot of fun!

Julie Gaudet January 16, 2012 - 6:10 am

Costa Rica is on my bucket list. Congratulations for making it a reality. Can’t wait to hear how the trip goes. You are proof that a few changes in life can make dreams come true!

Lozzz123 October 7, 2011 - 6:49 pm

That sounds awesome! And hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy it just that bit more since you worked so hard towards it.

I totally agree with your reasoning for travel. We’re planning a big trip next year, and it was easy at first to think instead of all the sensible things we could do with that money (mostly a deposit for buying a house) – but once we do those sensible things, babies will (potentially) be popped out and then any holiday is out the window for quite a while. Perhaps its a bit selfish of me, but I think it will be easier to commit whole-heartedly to houses and babies if I don’t have to forget my holiday dreams first.

City Girl October 6, 2011 - 7:17 pm

Yay, yay, yay!!! I’m so glad that you’re doing this!!! And, December is so close! xoxo

kim September 26, 2011 - 10:59 am

Two things – 1, you are saving for this, not throwing it all on a credit card, so it’s smart planing. And second, while Dave Ramsey talks about gazelle intensity, no gazelle can run for years on end! Everyone gets a break. Have a great time!

Jobo September 26, 2011 - 10:30 am

Yay!! So happy you are finally getting yor wish!!! Much deserved and once again, I’m so impressed!!

Shannon September 25, 2011 - 8:08 am

OOOOHHH this is so exciting! You guys totally deserve to get your honeymoon! Costa Rica sounds fab! Even in tough times I think you still have to live your life to some extent. Nothing wrong with that.

Erin September 24, 2011 - 4:59 pm

We have an antique bleach jar that we put all of our change in. The kids even do it too when they have change. When it is full we cash it in for a weekend getaway in another city, which I research coupons, groupons, whatever for. 🙂 That is how we do little weekend getaways. The kids love watching the jar grow! 🙂

Megg September 23, 2011 - 5:18 pm

I’m so excited for you!!
We went on a cruise for our honeymoon, didn’t save for the actual cruise, and ended up spending more than we intended on our credit card (paid off, thank goodness, but still).
We were also gifted a week in a timeshare in Hawaii(!!) for our wedding, and we’re going in February! By the time that rolls around, we will have been saving for 10 months, even when we were a 1 income family. I’m so glad that we are saving for it, because I know there are plenty of people who make the mistake we did on our honeymoon: not worry about it and create debt they shouldn’t.
You should be proud that you’re taking a debt-free vacation! Plus, all the months of saving makes the trip all the sweeter 🙂

Ava September 23, 2011 - 2:24 pm

You are SAVING for your honeymoon, not adding the cost of it to your debt load. I think that’s the part people judge – spending money you don’t have. People are always going to have an opinion on what you should and should not do. If you two are willing to give up to get, I say have at it. I have never regretted taking a trip but I have had regrets about NOT taking one.

Nicole September 23, 2011 - 7:28 am

Awesome for you guys!! I had a question for you…where in Italy did you vacation? My two sisters and I are looking to go there..we were thinking Amalfi but Id be curious to know where you went and if you’d recommend it! Thanks!!!

britt@knewlywifed September 23, 2011 - 7:25 am

Go you! Yes, people have different priorities on spending and saving. To each their own. Do what makes you happy and sane! How fun that will be for y’all!

Ana September 22, 2011 - 9:14 pm

That’s awesome. My husband and I didn’t go on a honeymoon either. We are saving for a big trip next year too! This post inspires me! 🙂

Lindy Mint September 22, 2011 - 6:11 pm

I absolutely support your decision to take a vacation, for all of the reasons you listed. I was fortunate to do a bunch of traveling right after college, before marriage and kids. It was the best decision of my life.

Hooray for your tropical honeymoon! We’re aiming to do the same for our tenth anniversary (in 2 years). I guess I better set a goal for that or something.

Teacher Girl September 22, 2011 - 5:03 pm

Yay for Costa Rica and a honeymoon! As important as it is to save money, I couldn’t agree with you more. Life is for living, so go out and live. Yes, paying off debt is important, but so is experiencing the things life has to offer. Once kids enter the picture, life is just never the same. Enjoy this time 😉

Niki September 22, 2011 - 3:57 pm

I am glad you are vacationing. Yay Costa Rica. That’s why you make the sacrifices to do awesome things like that.

Stevie September 22, 2011 - 1:23 pm

Yay! Good for you! I’m definitely on board with making travel a priority. Yes, it’s expensive and it isn’t always easy to save that money, but it’s SO worth it.

We’re thinking of going to Costa Rica for our honeymoon, too! I’ll have to get lots of advice and tips from you when you get back 🙂

Shellie September 22, 2011 - 12:58 pm

I totally agree with you!

I had an epiphany once when a friend told me about a cruise she took to Hawaii some years back. She took her three kids and let them each bring a friend. She said it took her years to pay it off, but it was worth every penny for the memories that her family made.

Traveling creates some of your fondest memories, and memories are truly the most priceless and valuable things we have! I fully believe it is so worth it to take vacations whenever it fits into you life, not waiting until you have no debt!

Andrea September 22, 2011 - 11:18 am

Good for you! I think the opportunity to travel is worth daily sacrifices. I don’t really get any satisfaction from saving for things like retirement or an emergency fund, so saving up for a fun vacation is a much more rewarding experience. Have a great time in Costa Rica…Pura Vida!

Emily September 22, 2011 - 10:43 am

I totally agree about vacations. They can definitely feel like a great expense but I’ve never felt as though it wasn’t worth it. Even on vacation I try to be money conscious (like staying somewhere with continental bfast or doing my research for free events or free admission days & subscribing to Groupons for that city). Bringing lunch from home every-single-day makes dinner out on vacation even more special!

Congrats on your honeymoon! I leave on mine to Italy & Spain tomorrow!

Kellie September 22, 2011 - 10:40 am

Go girl! We are working hard on our debt and are planning a vacation next November before we start trying for kids… we wont be completely out of debt, but I’m in agreement with you. We NEED to go!

Also, I love your blog and would love to hear what other debt/money management blogs you read. I cant seem to find any?

Lynn September 22, 2011 - 10:35 am

Even in the difficult times with debt you should take vacations or mini vacations. Because life is too short to stress about all of the things we face in life. Girl go enjoy the time with your husband. And leave your worries at home.


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