The Cost Effective Way I Learned to Vacation

Updated Jul 06, 2023
The Cost Effective Way I Learned to Vacation

Vacations can be an excellent way for families to bond, make great memories, and enjoy the summer.

Vacations can be an excellent way for families to bond, make great memories, and enjoy the summer. However, vacations can be very expensive, especially for families struggling to make ends meet. My family didn't take many vacations growing up because my father was a business owner. It was uncommon for him to get away, afraid of losing clients or necessary income. When I got married and had a family, I realized the importance of respite in the form of a vacation. 

For many years, I thought it would be impossible for our family to go on vacation. Working in ministry, saving money throughout the year was very difficult to have a nice vacation for a family of four. But over time, I learned we could have a very cost-effective vacation with organization, a little self-control, and some creativity. 

The Importance of Scheduled Respite

Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Vacations reduce stress and lower cortisol levels in your body. Anxiety causes me to struggle with high cortisol levels. Time away helps me to lower them. Vacations are an excellent way for me to get away, forget about the stresses of everyday life, have fun in recreation, and think about myself and my family. 

Expanded Horizons
Vacations allow me to visit and experience parts of the world I've never seen before. My husband and I recently embarked on a two-week trip to see most of the southern United States. Although I had been to Florida and Georgia, I had not seen Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas. We visited ten states in fourteen days. Although we could not stay long-term in all those places, we could pick two or three of the civic landmarks and destinations native and well-known to each state. Although it was a lot of driving, it was fun! As I look back on my life, I am glad we took that time to spend together seeing parts of the world we would not have ordinarily seen. 

Friendly Reunions
Vacations allow me to see people important to me, whom I usually don't get to see due to the long distance between us. On my most recent trip, I stopped at a local restaurant to see a friend I had not seen in several years. We were able to catch up in a few hours, and both said we enjoyed the company. Even if your family cannot afford to go to an exotic destination or new parts of the world, they might be able to see relatives they have not seen in quite some time and who may be getting older in years and whom they may not see again. The pandemic reminded us that our time in this life is short. We can maximize our free time to see and enjoy time with those we love, near and far. 

Cost-Effective Vacation Tips

Plan Ahead
I could save money six months before the scheduled vacation trip by planning accordingly. Avoid procrastination when it comes to saving for vacations. I was able to take some extra jobs to save additional money. I cashed those checks and placed them in an envelope specifically for vacation. Although I have good intentions, life happens, and often unavoidable circumstances arise. Cars need new parts, animals need love and care, or home repairs get in the way of saving for a vacation. If you can save a certain percentage or amount of your income, put the cash in an envelope designated for vacation. Resist the temptation to take any money out of it unless necessary. You'll be so glad you have the money to spend when it comes time for vacation. Many apps for your phone help you manage and save money for a vacation, whether through your local bank or a financial planning app. Avoid using credit cards as much as possible. Even if you plan to use one as you travel for security and convenience, make sure the money to pay the bill is saved ahead of time. Don't hesitate to ask the Lord for his provision and guidance regarding rest and relaxation. God wants to see us relaxed and free physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Vacations are a great way to do that. Leave it to the Lord and watch how he works on our behalf. 

Destination Compromise
Seek something your family can all agree on. If your family is anything like mine, we all have different tastes regarding what to do with our vacation. My children and husband love theme parks, while I would love to see sites and do more relaxing things. My kids and husband love to go at a quick pace. I love to slow my pace. Since we all have different personalities and preferences, we agree with a family. Decide whether you want to do foreign or domestic travel. Remember, foreign travel will require a passport which may take months to get approved. Plus, the additional expense for each person to have a passport. There may be extra hassles regarding Border Patrol and other security measures. Be sure to build in that inconvenience. It can be worth it in the end. 

Compromise where you can each give and take a little. If your kids are older, they must remember things they would like to do before they graduate. These memories will pay off dividends when developing strong family bonds as adults. Try to agree on what you'd like to do. Additionally, make sure you allocate for renting cars, flying, or other modes of transportation. Renting a car may be worthwhile if you have an older used car that may not make the trip. 

Vacations don't have to involve travel to be great. Staycations can also be a good way to have fun and make memories. Simply explore your own state. Or see a nearby relative and stay at their home for free. If none are an option, unplug all media devices and enjoy activities at home. Make your own water park outside, have a bonfire, or eat ice cream for dinner. Use downtime to get creative together and do whatever makes your family happy. 

Vacations are an investment in time and money. But they also can be a great way to enjoy spending quality time together. Allow children to explore their creative side by choosing the destination. Even if you cannot afford a vacation each year, the effort you place putting in for the vacation now will afford you more emotional comfort, better productivity at your work and home, and ultimately make memories for kids that not only enjoy taking time off as a priority but also spending time with their loved ones.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/simon2579

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website