If you’re like us, you probably can’t wait to get out of the house. With vaccines slowly getting us back to normal, a lot of folks are considering rewarding themselves with an overdue vacation.

Here’s the bad news. Vacations are a big-ticket item. They will have an impact on your budget and, if you don’t play your cards right, you can wind up interfering with your long-term goals. Perhaps worse, you’ll wind up feeling guilty about the money you do spend, and you’ll enjoy your vacation less.

Don’t just wing it

Make a vacation part of your budget. This serves two purposes. First, it will help you keep costs under control and make sound decisions when you are in the planning phase. Second, it will keep you accountable to actually taking one!

Budget every aspect of your vacation. Most people think of lodging and travel, and maybe a couple of major entertainment expenses. But vacations are also about spontaneity, the great restaurants you can’t find at home, that t-shirt you just know your nephew will love. Make sure you plan for meals, incidentals, even bus fare.

If you have properly budgeted for your trip, you don’t have to feel guilty about spending money while you are on it, and you won’t have debt waiting for you when you get back home.

Be COVID prepared

COVID has rather obviously changed the way we travel, and will for the foreseeable future. For example, the normal adage to book early may not apply. With the lack of business travel, many airlines and hotels are seeing prices drop as you get closer to the date.

Cancellation policies have been an ever-moving target throughout the pandemic. Many people assume you can make changes to your travel arrangements at no cost due to COVID, but those policies are coming to an end in many cases. Further, trip insurance policies often have an exclusion for pandemics.

Understand your risk tolerance and decide what is acceptable to you and your family beforehand.

Protect your health and safety

If you have chronic health issues, or are just accident prone, make sure your health insurance policy will cover you wherever you are travelling. It will be important to carry some cash to pay for ground transportation and the like. Make sure to keep this in a separate place from your credit cards you are not left stranded.

Scan important documents, such as your passport, and keep them in a separate location while you travel.

Travelling while retired

If getting away is part of your retirement plan, take advantage of the flexibility. Many booking sites allow you to search with flexible dates. Be open in terms of geographical region. If you want to go somewhere warm, there’s lots of options, and you can save if you aren’t picky.

If you plan to travel extensively, build it into your long-term plan. If you plan to use money to travel in the next 3-5 years, take the money from riskier funds.

One last piece of advice. Have fun!


This article was originally published in the Pioneer Press. You may view the article here.