Remember when you were a kid, and a vacation meant spending hours on the beach making sandcastles and jumping in the waves? How about the days spent at theme parks riding on the roller coaster and the Ferris wheel? Some people were lucky enough to get an entire week inside the fantasy world of Disney and maybe even a glimpse of Cinderella and Snow White. It seemed like every summer there was a vacation somewhere, whether it was a trek to the mountains for fresh air and lots of outdoor exercise or a trip to the beach for days in the sun and nights on the boardwalk trying to win whatever stuffed animal or gadget was popular then.
Those days may be over for many Americans, who can’t afford to go on vacation without giving something else up. A 2014 Statista survey reported that 54 percent of people denied themselves expensive items like televisions to be able to afford a vacation. Another 43 percent either cut down or cut out dining at restaurants; 47 percent stopped—or greatly reduced–going to the movies; and 43 percent made do with the clothes they already had instead of trading them in for a new wardrobe.
According to a YouGov survey, 52 percent of people did not go on a vacation at all in the past year.
Some people say they have not received a wage increase and are not able to afford the basic expenses of a mortgage, utilities, food bills, education for their children and the many other items they need. In addition, a majority of people are trying to pay off debt or put some money away in a savings account. Expensive airfare, hotels and eating out at restaurants three times a day also had a lot to do with people giving up vacations. Guess what they did instead?
They went where so many other people from every part of the globe dream of going for its thousands of tourist locations. They flocked to destinations right here in the U.S. It is no wonder why people from faraway countries travel for hours just to get here and discover the many great places and things to do. New York has Broadway and any number of plays to see often available at discount rates, shopping in stores that have so many levels that there are restaurants inside them just to take a break, and some of the finest dining in the world. There is California with the miles of coastline and pristine beaches for sun and outdoor activities. In between, there are so many cities and towns with many things to do—from fairs and eclectic shopping to exploring the outdoors and finding out about a part of the country that you never knew.
If you happen to have relatives who live in a part of the country you always wanted to visit, it may be a good time to take them up on the invitation to stay with them. Perhaps you have good friends who enjoy the same activities you do—they may want to split the cost of renting a vacation house. Many people like to be outdoors and “rough” it at campgrounds, where there is hiking, swimming and nights around the campfire.
You can still plan a break now and then even if it is not for an entire week or two of vacation. There are weekends throughout the year, weekdays for a “mini break,” and day trips that can give you the relaxation and peace of mind you seek without depleting the budget. The following are a few suggestions.
1) Instead of going into debt and putting the vacation costs on credit cards, think about how much you will have to pay in interest, as well as not adding to your savings account and stressing about it later.
The “staycation” gained popularity a few years back, and it can still be a viable way to vacation if you investigate the many places to visit right in your town or in a nearby city.
2) It is a fallacy that you have to travel far to find an adventure.
There are probably many places where you live that you pass by or take for granted every day. Many people don’t even think about doing the things that are in their own “backyards.” Explore the trails and nature of parks and national forests nearby. Take advantage of one-day classes that are offered by libraries and art galleries to gain some new information and get the break you need.
If you stay home, you have the chance to get together with friends who you may only see during a hurried lunch break or for a quick cup of coffee. This is the chance to convene for dinner at the house and enjoy the company without having to look at your watch and run back to the office for a meeting. You can follow the meal with a movie or take a leisurely stroll to work off dinner.
3) The reason for a vacation for many people is the idea of putting their feet up, resting and doing the things they enjoy.
When you think about it, traveling for vacation can be quite a hassle—getting to the airport early, going through lines for security, sitting at the gate and waiting, boarding the plane and, possibly, catching a connecting flight before you get to the destination. Then, you may have to rent a car or take a taxi to get to the hotel and hope the room is ready for you. By that time, you are probably hungry and want to get something to eat at a popular restaurant, but you need reservations or have to wait in line for a table. At this point, you may be done for the night and want to just fall into the bed with the 800 thread count sheets and sleep for the next two days. It is exhausting to think about.
4) You may want to stay home and find your favorite spot
The back yard, a park or anywhere you choose to relax, sunbathe or read a book. Or, maybe you want to invite friends over and unwind. You will find that if you do things besides sitting in front of the television, catching up on chores or spending time on the computer, it will provide you with the time you need to rejuvenate and be refreshed.