Right now I’m enjoying a week in Nevada and California. But it’s taken me a long time to get here. I only started taking winter vacations in my mid-thirties. Previously I didn’t have enough money or time.

Winter travel may seem like a necessity to many Canadians (even with this easier-than-normal winter we’ve been having) but should you really spend the money?

Going to warm destinations seems more common for young Canadians than it used to be. You may be surrounded by people who are flitting off to Mexico, or Vegas, or Australia, but is this the right decision for you?

Reasons you can’t afford a vacation this year:

  • You have credit card or other high interest debt.
  • You can’t afford to pre-pay for most of your vacation or to pay it off within a month of your return.

Reasons you should take a vacation:

  • You have saved up all year to pay for the vacation, or can pay it off as soon as you come home.
  • You aren’t carrying high interest debt.
  • It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or an astonishingly good deal. (Great Aunt Mildred is paying for the whole family to go on a safari tour in Africa, and you only have to buy your plane tickets.)
  • You’ve reached your breaking point and are preparing to quit your job or leave your partner only because of your stress level and loathing of winter.
  • You can find a way to make it more affordable – by volunteering or working (legally).

Remember, there should be some flexibility in your life and finances. There are reasons that travelling is beneficial even if not completely affordable. It is often easier to travel when you are young — before you have to buy plane tickets for your kids, and arrange for house or pet sitters. Your job may be more flexible when you are younger as well.

On the other hand, just because your peers are doing something, doesn’t mean you should play the same game with your own money. I’m 38 years old, and this will be the fourth expensive vacation I have ever taken. I didn’t want to risk my money by travelling before I could easily afford it. It is possible to just stay in your home city; you do survive and your finances are better for it.

If vacations are important to you I recommend setting up a savings account and automatically transferring a specific amount of money into it every month. Then, when vacation season comes around you have the money set aside. If you don’t have enough money, then you stay in your home city until you can afford to leave it.

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