94.8 million posts… Search #wanderlust on Instagram and you’ll find millions of beautiful and meticulously planned photos of breathtaking sunsets, views from hot air balloons soaring over ancient ruins, or snow-capped mountain ranges sprinkled with medieval castles. Each the epitome of #vacationgoals. Apparently 94.8 million people can afford it, so I can too, right? Maybe, maybe not. Don’t let your FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, be the cause of your financial troubles.
According to Forbes, 74% of Americans admit going into debt to fund an epic vacation. P.S. 74% means three out of four people. So, look around—you aren’t the only one who wants to see the Northern Lights in Iceland or the beaches of Vis, Croatia, but would have to struggle to pay for it. Pulling out the credit card could be a terrible mistake. Maxing out a card to pay for a memorable adventure could leave you with no ability to pay for unplanned life events, like your car breaking down on the way home from the airport.
You can make these epic vacations happen without going into debt — with planning. Here are a few things to help you make it happen:
1. Look hard and realistically at your financial situation. As I write this article, my parents are on their way to Disneyland for a week of fun. While my wife and I would love to experience the magic of Disney with them, it just didn’t make sense financially. We have a newborn at home and our income has changed drastically since my wife is not currently working. Sometimes it’s best to say, “Maybe next time.” So, start saving money now, for the “next time!”
2. Put the money aside first. Rather than swiping the credit card and saying you’ll pay it later, try approaching it the other way around. Put the money aside first and pay the trip off in advance. Some ways to make this easier are:
a. Open a separate account at your credit union to fund that dream vacation and automatically transfer a set dollar amount with each paycheck.
b. Update your direct deposit allocation to include a little extra in your savings, specifically for your #wanderlust adventures.
3. Do your homework. Use the internet to find information about your planned vacation destination. Find out the average cost per day, how much people tip on average, what to expect to spend on food, the cheapest places to stay, etc. Having this knowledge beforehand will help you avoid pulling that credit card out for unexpected expenses before and while you are on your trip.
The FOMO is real, but it doesn’t have to get the best of you. You can experience epic adventures and manage your finances with a little patience and planning.