Vacation Within Your Means and Without Regrets
By Nickelle Leist and Elise Kensinger
The best vacation? One you can afford. Overspend and you may have fun, but the stress of breaking your budget always lingers in the background. Research tells us one key to living confidently is making good financial decisions and living within your means. So, this year, think of the vacation destination of your dreams, but then opt for a more affordable alternative that will still provide the ambiance and experience you desire. Here are some suggestions:
- Yearning for some joie de vivre but can’t afford a Parisvacation? Quebec City in Canada is a lower cost faux-Paris getaway, given the favorable exchange rate and low airfares. Founded by French settlers in 1608, Quebec City will immerse you in Gallic culture, from baguettes and café au lait at charming sidewalk cafés to the French-inspired architecture of the glorious cathedrals, theaters, and chateaus. You’ll feel like you’re walking down Paris streets. (And the traffic signs are bilingual.)
- A summer weekend in the Hamptonsis the perfect antidote for stress. But your blood pressure might rise at the cost. Instead, consider Ocean Grove, New Jersey, just 150 miles down the coast. Family-friendly, accessible via public transit, and far less expensive, this seashore resort has delighted New York metro vacationers for over a century. Plus, it’s an architecture lover’s delight with the highest number of authentic Victorian buildings in the nation.
- Oktoberfest in Munich, Germanyis wunderbar. Beer! Lederhosen! More beer! But you’ll experience just as much gemütlichkeit (friendliness and good cheer) for less in La Crosse, Wisconsin. One of the few authentic Old World folk festivals in the United States, Oktoberfest in La Crosse is a magnet for the brewery industry. More than 40 breweries participate, offering festival-goers a unique opportunity to sample hundreds of draft, craft, and domestic beers.
- Honolulu, Hawaii has great waves but a surfing vacation there will set you back over $400/day on average — it’s one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. Try Cape Town, South Africa. It’s considered the top surfing destination on the planet by many, and daily living expenses are only about $96. While airfare there may be more expensive, it can be offset by the food and lodging costs.
- Beards, bicycles, and coffee beans: Portland, Oregonis the mecca of hipsterdom. It also can put a big dent in your vacation budget. Bummer, dude. Check out Detroit. It has a thriving hipster scene with amazing art, music, and food. The city is being revitalized, the vibe is positive, and it’s ranked as the fifth most affordable destination among 50 of the most popular vacation cities in the U.S.
- Disneyland in California ranks as one of the top vacation destinations in the world. But hanging out with Mickey and his friends doesn’t come cheap. A family of four can easily spend upwards of $4,000 for a four-day stay. Instead, consider less pricey but equally magical theme parks, such as LEGOLAND(California and Florida), Knott’s Berry Farm (California) and, for a truly sweet destination, Hersheypark in Pennsylvania.
See? There are plenty of great places to go, depending on your interests and inclinations. And if you feel like you want to get a better handle on your finances now and for future trips, try this quiz to see where you land on the financial and emotional confidence spectrum. Then, you can also reach out to a financial professional to help become more financially confident and make smart spending decisions. Bon voyage.