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4 Reasons Family Vacations Should Be in Your Budget

by Guest

This is a guest post written by Jana from Daily Money Shot, a personal finance blog about money at the intersection of life, pop culture and everything in between.

Joyful arrival

I’m a huge advocate for family vacations. I don’t believe that a family vacation needs to be somewhere elegant or fancy. A simple camping trip is just fine (and often provides more fun and adventure than sitting on a beach. Just ask anyone in my family about the night of the rabid squirrel). Because no matter where the location or the accommodations, family vacations do these:

  • They provide a chance to unwind as a family. Let’s face it. Day to day life is stressful. Between work, school, activities, doctor appointments, pets, bills and all of the other responsibilities we have, we’re all overextended. That overextension can sometimes provide unwanted or unnecessary friction in a family. Taking a vacation, even if just a few days, can give everyone a chance to relax and escape from those responsibilities. In my experience, those few days of relaxation have a pretty long lasting impact.
  • They create lasting memories. Some of my most vivid memories are the crazy things that happened to me and my family while we were on vacations. In fact, my parents still like to use my affinity for It’s A Small World as a reminder of…well, I’m not exactly sure but they love to tell me how I tortured them at Disney World by making them go on the ride approximately 800 times. In a row. And it’s fun to relive the experiences via pictures and stories. Because even 25 years down the road, some of the stories will still be funny (even the ones that weren’t funny at the time).
  • They provide an opportunity to experience new things together. Often, as adults, we gear our vacations towards our interests. We think about the places we want to go, the sights we want to see, the food we want to eat. What’s nice about this is that we get to share those activities with our kids (who probably have some other agenda). On the other side of that, by planning a kid friendly vacation, we get to experience the trip from the kids’ point of view and participate in activities we never thought we would. Either way, we’re experiencing new things together.
  • They provide an opportunity to teach kids about saving. Most people cannot afford to decide to go on vacation and just pay for it on the spot. Most of us need to decide where we want to go, figure out the approximate expense and start saving in advance. What better opportunity to teach our kids the importance of saving for our wants? Saving for a vacation can even turn into a family event. Explain to your kids why you need to save the money and encourage them to participate. For instance, you can have them do extra chores and offer them the choice of keeping the money or putting it into the family vacation savings account (you can also offer to split the money for each). Whatever you choose, use it as a teachable moment.

Family vacations provide so much more than what’s listed above.  They provide topics for family dinner conversations. They instill a sense of adventure. They provide a way to teach our kids about patience and how to read a calendar. But most importantly, the offer a way for a family to enjoy time together.

How do you feel about family vacations? Are they important to your budget?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle April 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

We just bought a camper and will be doing a lot of various traveling with that. I am looking forward to the memories that we’ll create as a family, especially for the kids, who will be 3 and 1 this year, so they’ll just get started on memories that will hopefully last a lifetime!

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Jana @ Daily Money Shot April 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Your kids are definitely going to have fond memories of trips in the camper! And you’ll be surprised at the things a 3 year old will remember (not like I know from experience or anything :) )

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Corey @ Passive Income to Retire April 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I couldn’t agree more! My family always had a large family camping vacation (with extended family) and I always looked forward to it. Some of the best summer vacations and it was a great way to enjoy vacation and not go all out.

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Jana @ Daily Money Shot April 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Camping is an amazing vacation. We never went with extended family but family friends who were close enough to family. I think I looked forward to those trips more than our fancy vacations (well, maybe equally).

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Frugal Portland April 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

agree wholeheartedly — some of my favorite summertime childhood memories revolve around vacations!

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Elaine@mortgagefreeinthree.com April 30, 2012 at 4:27 am

Getting kids out and about, meeting and playing with kids they wouldn’t normally bump into is an education in itself – and road trips with a pre-teen are fascinating sojourns into “stream of consciousness” conversations where you are never quite sure where you will end up.

Family Trips – two thumbs up in our house

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Paul @ The Frugal Toad April 30, 2012 at 6:27 am

I’ve done summer camping trips with my son and daughter for years. It is something that I look forward to all year and look back on prior trips with fond memories.

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Jai Catalano April 30, 2012 at 6:49 am

We talked about this last night. We need a family vacation and we also need a vacation from the family. :) I used to blog about family weekend breaks which were based off of maintaining and retaining mental health.

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Fun Best Family Vacations April 30, 2012 at 10:58 am

I agree with you. Family vacations are important. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are of family vacations. While my family may not have gone anywhere posh or exotic, we still had a lot of fun because we were together. When planning a family vacation I think many parents today lose sight of what this vacation is for, quality time with your family.

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Janette April 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm

We saved a good nest egg for retirement, helped children go through college and paid all our bills. We always, always went on a yearly (often semi annual) vacation. From camping in the back of a van to traveling to Egypt, our family went.
We often felt that what our children learned on the road trumped what they learned in school. Walk Gettysburg, see a DaVinci, experience an owl flying over your head in a camp ground, amazing.
Our kids- hike, camp, ski, museum haunt, frequent concerts, have a huge variety of friends, are employed and love to learn. One graduated in Physics and the other chose to study languages. The second now is raising the next crazy traveler with her husband. I go along for the ride:) Next spring- Rome on a budget! It is cheaper than Disney!

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Shelly May 1, 2012 at 8:45 am

Family vacations are the best. I took them with my parents and siblings every summer doing the old road trip with the camper. We still laugh about some of those trips. I continued it with my husband and 2 daughters. We’ve done mostly camping trips all over the US and a couple bigger trips as well. I will never regret the money spent on these trips. They have all opened our eyes to how people live in different parts of the country/world, taught us to be more tolerant, patient and appreciate our own home. They provide appreciation for the outdoors through hiking, visiting state and national parks, and appreciation of history. I totally agree with Janette that travelling for children far outweighs what they can learn in a classroom.

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Amandah May 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm

So true. Family vacations are important, and they don’t have to be over-the-top. I also agree that it’s a good idea to experience new things together. Visit a country you never traveled to before. Take a road trip across the U.S. and go off the beaten path. Not only are family vacations fun, they’re educational too!

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Barbara Friedberg May 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Yes, Yes, Yes. We have always prioritized travel, family vacations, and never hesitated to take our child out of school to travel. The memories and experiences we shared are priceless.

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Pretraveller May 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

We also prioritise family holidays. Last year we did a fantastic road trip to the Australian outback, and the year before we went on a driving holiday around New Zealand with my parents. I think it is very important to save the money for the trip in advance. Going into debt for a holiday is not a good option.

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