How to Afford a Vacation- Time Off and A Place To Stay

Coastal view from our summer vacation
Coastal view from our summer vacation
When you work full time, especially if you own a business, it might be hard to take a vacation. If you are in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, that makes it even harder. We recently took our longest vacation in over a decade. While a ten day vacation may not seem like long to world travelers, if you knew my work history, it’s nothing short of a miracle. If you are dreaming of sandy beaches and mai tais, but don’t feel like you have the time or can afford to take a vacation, maybe there is a way.

Work is Ruining all My Fun!

I think the biggest obstacle facing most would be vacationers is work. If you work for someone else, it’s hard to take extended time off. Even if you are the boss, it can be tough. You could find yourself ten years into a job and only taking a few consecutive days off here and there.

To be able to take time off, you have to make sure there is someone you can delegate your work load to, and you have to be able to have enough money to supplement your income if you are taking unpaid leave. There are tons of ways to earn more money or cut expenses you don’t need, like satellite TV. If you have to put a trip on credit because you don’t have money on hand to cover it, then don’t go.

Where Do I Stay?

Paying for hotel costs can certainly limit your vacation budget. Likewise, staying somewhere dirty or unsafe to save a few bucks can really dampen the traveling spirit as well. Luckily, there are several low cost ways to find accommodations while on vacation.

  • Use Credit Card Reward Points– This has become my personal favorite. It takes good credit, discipline, and knowing your limits, but if you do it right, you can get all kinds of free stays in some great hotels. 
  • Use AirBnB or VRBO. Pauline has much more experience with AirBnB, which would be a great option for single travelers or couples. Since we have a child, we don’t want to stay in a house with people we don’t know. For this recent trip, we rented a cottage on the Oregon coast for much less than the crappy shoreline motels in the area.The other benefit is laundry and a full kitchen, which saves tons on food expenses. Yes, you could get taken, but if there are enough reviews, you should be fine.
  • Swap Houses- I haven’t tried this one, but I would certainly consider it if we found the right family and location. Basically, you trade houses with someone in an area you want to visit with someone who wants to visit your area. It might be tough if you live on Skid Row, but if you live in a decent neighborhood close to attractions people come to see, why not?
  • Traveling Caretakers- You can actually stay for free in many places if you don’t mind taking care of someone’s property while they are away. Again, I’ve never tried it, but it might not be a bad way to see the world.
  • Camping- Camping might not be the luxury you are looking for, but it does provide a cheap and often relaxing way to travel. Some of our best trips have been had based out of campgrounds.

I guess you could also stay with family or friends, but family trips are often not really vacations. If you do need a vacation, finding how to take time off and securing a place to stay are two really big parts of the puzzle. Luckily, there are ways to make it happen if you want it bad enough.

What is the best place you have ever stayed on vacation and was it cheap or expensive?

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  1. I’ve been to so many places it’s hard to pick just one. I did like Thailand quite a bit. I am a planner so I make sure we save the cash first, I do research online and save as much as I can. I need a vacation now come to think of it lol. I’ll be going home soon.

  2. I have been there with owning a company and never taking days off. Mostly because I did a horrible job hiring and didnt have anyone who could manage while I was gone for a few days. Being the boss is not as easy as everyone would like to imagine. That being sad the best places we have stayed have been at a all inclusive resort in Mexico(great place and time there) not cheap though. And we had a get little weekend getaway about 30 minutes from our home. Nice small boutique hotel and the wifey had a great time.

  3. Thanks for the tips, it’s all about thinking outside the box! My biggest barrier is carving out some money for a vacation. I haven’t been off the continent in over ten years. Very depressing. Financially, things should start to shift soon!

    1. A trip is a nice reward for reaching a financial goal. I don’t think it needs to be expensive, just something to give yourself a break for a job well done.

  4. While many AirBnB places are single rooms, they aren’t all that way. I rented a full cottage on AirBnB for a family of four. It was a fine option for us and gave us an awesome place to stay.

    1. That’s good to know. I could see my daughter walking in on someone in the bathroom if we had to share with strangers!

  5. My wife and I joined friends to visit the UK (England & Scotland ) by car nearly 30 years ago. By far, it was my favorite trip. We stayed in hotels, manor houses and a B & B. The B & B was one of my favorite although at the time, it was the cheapest ($20 per night for 2 people including breakfast)stay.

    1. I have never done a B&B but should put in on my list if Jim and I ever get to take a trip alone. Not sure a small, loud child would go over well there.

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