How to Afford to Use Your Vacation Days

Vacation or staycation, that is the real question!

Whichever you choose, it’s important to use up your allotted vacation time for the year and budget accordingly for said time. Nothing is more important than maintaining a healthy work/life balance and giving yourself the break you need to relax, unwind and reconnect with yourself or your loved ones. Take a look at our segment on Alberta Primetime below for our tips on making the most of your vacation time and your money.

Full transcription:

We know what the stats say. So many of us don’t actually use our full allotment of annual vacation time. How much of that is a money thing, as in we don’t have the cash to go on holiday so we don’t take them?

While part of it is poor planning, a lot of the statistics say that people feel that it’s a work pressure thing. They don’t want to be away from work for that long. A lot of the statistics say people are accessing their work emails while on vacation, so there are a lot of factors at play. But we think it’s very important for your work/life balance, for your mental health… I’m fully in favour of people taking all their vacation time and 93% of workers agree that is very important.


If we are in fact taking time off for from work for a holiday, we need to find a way to fund it. So how do you how do you figure how much to spend on that holiday?

Some people are really focused on vacations. That’s where they want to spend their money and that’s great. However, a general good guideline to look at is 7% of your take-home income. So let’s just say that you’re taking home $4,000/month⏤that would mean your annual vacation budget would be around $3,300. We like to break things down into monthly savings amounts, so that would be about $275/month that you would be putting away in your vacation account. That way, when vacation comes around, you’re going to be ready. The important thing is to live within your means and to take a vacation that you can afford. Because the last thing we want to see is all those charges to end up on your credit card with no real plan to pay it off.


So then how much does planning play into this? Because a lot of folks like to just decide at the drop of the hat, “Okay, I’m going to take a break!”

Planning ahead is very important! There are a lot of tips that we can utilize to save money while on vacation⏤we talked about putting money aside every month so you can afford your vacation going in⏤but there are also tips for when you are on vacation. Planning ahead is very important because there will be deals on an ongoing basis if you check your travel websites, in terms of flights, hotels, etc. Travelling in the off-season is also a great way to save money. By planning ahead you can really make the best of the situation.


What are your thoughts on getting the best value while you are on vacation?

Cash is a really big issue for a lot of people. How much should I spend? You’ll need to figure out how much cash you want to spend on a daily basis and then put each day’s allowance aside in an envelope so you don’t worry about it. That way, when the money’s gone, it’s gone for that day and you can start again tomorrow.

Exchange rates are another issue. Make sure you shop around so you can get the best exchange rate possible, especially now with the American dollar so high.

You want to really watch your gift buying, too. How many times have you seen people go on vacation and they buy gifts for everybody? You don’t have to buy gifts for everybody and you don’t have to buy souvenirs for yourself every stop that you go to. However, there might be some bargains in the locations that you’re traveling to that you might want to take advantage of. One great idea is to cross-reference these souvenirs with your holiday gift-giving list, to save money during the holiday season.

The food budget is another area to look at. It’s very important to stay away from the pricey restaurants. Eat where the locals eat and have your big meal at lunch rather than dinner, as it’s less expensive. You’re going to encounter a lot more of the local culture by doing that as well, so I think it adds to the vacation experience.

And when you’re packing, leave room in your suitcase before you go because you know you’re going to be bringing more stuff home. This will help you avoid those extra baggage fees coming home or needing to purchase another bag to bring items back in.


And lastly, do you have some quick thoughts for those of us who maybe don’t have the flexibility or the finances to travel abroad for the holidays?

Luckily, there is usually lots to do in and around your city. With all the local festivals, events, sights, etc., there’s all sorts of things to do across Alberta. Take a look at some of our staycation ideas to inspire you!

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