I WAS RECENTLY on vacation. Okay, the truth is—since I’m retired—I’m always on vacation. Still, it was away-from-home time that costs extra money.
Back in the olden days, vacation meant our family of six squeezed into our 1972 two-door Duster and we were off on a six-hour drive to Cape Cod for one week. We saved for the entire year for that vacation. We allocated $100 a day to spend. If we spent less than $100, it meant more to spend another day. One of my children was the accountant, keeping the books on our daily allowance.
For many people today, vacation is quite different. A family of four staying four nights at Disney World can easily spend $6,000—if not more. I should know: I took my wife and my daughter’s family of five to Disney several years ago for four nights, and the tab was over $10,000.
Let’s look at the cost another way: A $6,000 trip doesn’t cost $6,000, but rather $34,461, or $28,461 more. How so? At 6% a year, that $28,641 is the lost interest on $6,000 over 30 years.
I know, lighten up, right?
In 2017, 150 million people worldwide visited Disney parks. I’m not picking on the good folks at Disney. There are many ways that Americans spend big bucks on vacations, like taking a family cruise or the whole gang to Mexico. Even renting a house at the beach runs into thousands. Have you seen what mini-golf costs these days?
Americans spent more than $100 billion on summer vacations in 2017, according to the Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index. “This spike in summer vacation spending represents a 12.5 percent increase over last year, also showing that Americans’ spending habits have increased for the second consecutive year,” says a travel industry news site.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a curmudgeon by trade. I enjoy a vacation and travel. But there is vacation spending and vacation spending. The irony may be that our quest for family time—and for relaxation—ends up causing stress when those credit-card bills come due. Is the giant turkey leg you’re chomping on, while waiting in line for that next Disney attraction, really worth paying 20% interest?
Richard Quinn blogs at QuinnsCommentary.com. Before retiring in 2010, Dick was a compensation and benefits executive. His previous articles include Under Construction, Get Me the Doctor and Running in Place. Follow Dick on Twitter @QuinnsComments.