This article appears in July Family magazine.
Most people crave a vacation, but nearly half of Americans won’t take one this summer or any other time of the year, according to a new Bankrate study.
Nearly one in four Americans say they don’t have the savings to cover a vacation, said Bankrate.com analyst Amanda Dixon.
Cost is the No. 1 reason for staying put, with 24 percent of respondents saying they can’t afford to spend money on a vacation. Other obstacles include too many family obligations (12 percent) and being too busy at work (11 percent).
The propensity to blame finances for skipping a summer vacation is highest among millennials, who are also more inclined to say they have too much on their plate to get away. Older Americans are more likely to cite family obligations.
The survey was based on 1,000 interviews and “weighted to ensure accurate and reliable representation of the total population,” Bankrate.com said.
What they’ll spend
The 51 percent of people who said they were going on vacation plan to spend a median amount of $1,000, For people struggling to make ends meet, $1,000 may seem exorbitant: A previous 2018 Bankrate.com survey found that most Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency expense, Dixon said.
Many vacationers, including parents with young children, ages 28 to 53, higher earners and those with more education, plan to spend more than $2,000.
What they’ll lose
Many who receive paid vacation days will leave them on the table, the survey found. Just 36 percent of those who get paid vacation believe they’ll use all of their allotted time. Additionally, about 1 in 4 think they’ll use a quarter of their days or less, including 13 percent who receive paid vacation time but don’t think they’ll use any of it.
That’s a shame but no surprise to Cait DeBaun, director of communications for Project: Time Off, which advocates for bringing back the American vacation. Over the past 40 years, employees’ vacation use has declined dramatically, DeBaun said.
“Americans are getting better at taking vacation, and employers are getting better,” DeBaun said. While budget is the top constraint, workplace barriers are very real. Some companies set narrow restrictions for taking time off, have no clear policies for requesting time off or send work emails at all hours.
Change your idea of ‘vacation’
A vacation can be many things, and can last from one day off spent binge-watching a new show or two weeks exploring the cities of Italy.
“The idea is to get out of your routine,” DeBaun said.
“Families on a budget may want to choose an affordable travel destination. You should never go into debt paying for a vacation,” Dixon said. “If you’re flexible with dates, you can save money on airfare and hotels. Flying out of a different airport in town may also help you save money.”
If you’re good about paying off credit cards on time and in full, consider opening a credit card with a sign-up bonus and taking advantage of those rewards, Dixon said.
If money is tight, consider a staycation.
“There’s nothing wrong with staying local and acting like a tourist in your own city. Try out a new restaurant or visit parts of town that you rarely venture out to,” Dixon said.
If you can’t afford a vacation this summer, start saving now. Compare rates on and set aside money for your trip in a new savings account or CD, if that makes sense for your financial situation.
“Depending on where you want to go, it may be cheaper to travel in the fall or the winter,” Dixon said.