I’d like to offer a suggestion that’s a little more extreme.
Now before you start throwing the Scrooge label around, hear me out.
I’ve been thinking recently about how much I want to take my kids on a great vacation. I travel quite a bit on my own, and I’ve noticed that it’s much more affordable to travel solo than it is in a group. Even when I go places with just my husband, the sticker shock of two airplane tickets and two full sized meals (as opposed to one street vendor hot dog) never ceases to amaze me. (Plus, when you’re traveling with your husband, you can’t save money by splitting a hotel room with 3 of your closest friends.)
I can easily scratch the heck out of my travel itch for under $400 – when I’m traveling alone.
But I’ve been wondering, where can I come up with the well over $400 needed for a great vacation for a family of four?
Obviously, one of the first things I could do to save money is stop traveling alone. And to that I say, Ba Humbug! I’m a travel writer, for Pete’s sake! I pretty much have to take regular trips or I’ll lose my job! Nobody wants that!
My next idea was to stop buying groceries. But then I considered the enormous hassle of dealing with Child Protective Services and quickly scrapped that plan.
And then came my brilliant idea to cancel Christmas.
I have two children and a husband and me. Between the four of us, we easily rack up well over a thousand dollars in gift receipts for the holiday season. And what do we have to show for it? A frenzied 15 minutes of paper shredding, garbage bags full of said shredded paper, and boxes full of toys that will be all but forgotten about in less than a month.
Oh, and new underwear for everyone.
While all of that is fantastic, the idea of providing my kids with a week full of new memories and adventures in lieu of battery operated gizmos is more than appealing.
The next question, of course, is how do I sell this idea to my family?
1. Give everyone a say on where you’ll go on vacation. I’m keeping in mind that taking a vacation is replacing tangible, personalized gifts. The only way this will work is if everyone feels like this is a special event for them.
2. Take the vacation over the Christmas break. Swapping presents for travel is a lot harder for kids to swallow if they’re sitting around on Christmas morning going “just think how much fun we’ll have in February!” Worse still is sitting around on Christmas morning saying “but remember what a GREAT time you had in October?” This is especially true if your children are under the age of, say, 30 and their mindsets are still very much of the “what have you done for me lately” variety.
3. Savor gifts from Grandma. I’m not the only one who gives my kids presents at Christmas time. (See also: why the toys I buy for them are quickly forgotten) If you’re not going to be waking up in a kid friendly hotel on Christmas morning, consider waking up at Grandma’s. If that’s not option, save all the gifts that get mailed to the kids for one massive unwrapping party, thereby saving the holiday spirit!
I have to admit, my plan is genius.
Now it’s just a matter of convincing the 4 year old and 9 year old…
Photo courtesy of nukeit1 on Flickr.