Family Vacations - How Often, How Much and Where?

Updated on January 27, 2011
S.J. asks from Cherryville, MO
18 answers

How often do you take a family vacation, or a vacation for just you and hubby? In 9 years, we have had one vacation, and that was our honeymoon. We stil feel guilty for spending the $2,000 we spent on that! So, how often do you take a vacation, how much do you usually allot for it and where do you go?

Hubby and I have a hard time with this because even though we can "afford" it, we always see a "better" way to spend the money (pay off car, pay down the mortgage, any other debts, save , etc). There has to be a way to balance! I can barely convince my frugal husband to take the family out to dinner, let alone on a week vacation!

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I should've probably asked a separate question too....what do "normal" people do for vacations, and then what do Dave Ramsey fans do? Lol =)

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answers from Dallas on

Quick trip, weekend, drive to oklahoma or somewhere in texas for $300

SpringBreak- Oklahoma: rent a nice cabin ($189-220 a night), go fishing, go to the animal wildlife park to feed the animals, slight wilderness trek...etc. Total: $###-###-####

Summer- first part, San Antonio, rent a hotel room $200-400 a night, do about anything, riverwalk, amusement parks, movies etc. total $###-###-####

Summer-second part, Padre Island, rent a condo near beach for ($279 a night), play all day at beach cause we bring picnic basket and go to dinner at night, go to the arboretum. total: $1,200

Winter- Depends Christmas Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, rent two bedroom suite for a week and go on hummer rides, shows, hikes, shopping etc. $10,000.

or Travel to Sweden to see family $3000



answers from Boston on

My mom does a big family trip to Disney every other year. I am not a big Disney fan but my kids love it and my mom takes care of the financial part so we do that. When it is just me and my boys we take a few mini vacations each year. We take anywhere from 2 night to 4 night camping trips, March through September and that helps break things up a bit. We have a few regular places we like to go and we have been going to different state parks to camp. Camping is pretty cheap and we have all the equipment so we are able to do it a few times each year.

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answers from Alexandria on

My first note comes from me in my psychologist hat:
Studies have repeatedly shown that several short vacations (ie three day weekend trips) through out the year are more effective at relieving stress and bringing families together than one long trip.

My second thought is as a mother:
In my golden years I want to look back and reflect on the times we treasured with our then grown daughters. Stories of love, laughter and memories. I will not look back and proudly say "yup we always paid off our debt early!"
Put things in perspective. When you look back what will you remember? What will you regret?

Our little refresher trips are not always something spectacular. Yeah, we did a week in hawaii once, a week in SanFrancisco once. But we have done lots of little ones to the town, mountain, beach, etc a few hours away just for the weekend. Didn't matter if it was camping, hotel or relatives house. Mostly family, but one or two B&B couple trips. Those are so full of treasured memories!

***I sincerely hope that someday what is "normal" will be what all of us "Dave Ramsey Fans do"

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Go!! Plan a vacation and enjoy yourselves. Once a year you should go, even if it's just for a weekend! Leave behind the every day stuff and have fun. You have to look at it as an investment in your marriage rather than just throwing money away. You never know when you might not get another minute with the ones we love, so the memories you make now are more than just memories, but they are the way you stay connected. Have fun! Can't wait to hear where you all go!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

We go on at least one big vacation and several mini-vacations/camping trips/music festivals per year. I would go NUTS if we didn't! I wish to God we could take one without the kids, but that's impossible right now -although we're working on it. People (especially children) learn more from traveling and reading than they'll ever learn in school. Not that school isn't important, but you learn so much from travel experiences and seeing new things! There's really no price you can put on the experience! You also need to get away and relax -and your kids need that too. I'm a beach nut, and my kids love it too, so we always spend a week at the beach every summer. We go camping to area state parks and to music festivals around the southeast over long weekends in the spring and fall, and when the kids are a little older, we're going to start taking them on some trips we've always wanted to take them on -Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Southwest, DC, Hawaii (for us and them -it's our favorite place), places in Europe and UK, Maine, Oregon coast, NYC, etc. Personally after I build up some more upper-body strength, I'm going to Key West for a kite-surfing camp! I'm hoping the family can join me (the kids are too small, but one day).

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answers from Dallas on

My parents always thought it was best to give us a vacation every year, instead of a big vacation every few years. We never went to Disney or any place else when we were little. But we always went to the beach. My parents would take a set amount of money with them to the beach and when it was gone, we packed up and came home. Sometimes we stayed for 4 days sometimes a week depending on the spending. Growing up I hated not going to Disney as all my other friends went, but now I think it was the best decision. We have memories every year of a family vacation and the time together. As for just my parents, sometimes they would go around the corner to the local hotel for the night just to get away from us and focus on them. Sometimes there is no better way to spend your money than on each other and an escape from the everyday.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I realize how lucky we are. My in-laws have decided to use up their kids inheritance now, while we can enjoy it together. They have paid for trips to California(x2), Disney, and are talking about Cancun next year. If it wasn't for them financing these, we never would have gone. My family also does trips together. We do it every other summer. My parents pay for the lodging and we get ourselves there. These are cherished memories for the adults as well as the kids/cousins.

On our own, we take a trip to my in-laws who have a place on Washington Island, WI. It's so relaxing. It is a 14 hour trip, so it's a sacrifince to load up the 4 kids and trek across the midwest, but worth it. Again, the excitement the kids have knowing that trip is coming every summer is so much fun to watch.
We also plan little mini vacations to areas around us that can easily be a day trip. The Cincinnatti Zoo or even our own Columbus Zoo or waterpark are a blast. It's true that even a one-night stay at an attraction like King's Island or Cedar Point (Six Flags, amusement park kind of things) can get pricey, but it's certainly not the same as a week long vacation to Florida. We have friends who will camp almost all summer long. While camping is not exactly my cup of tea, the kids love it. You could rent a cabin, if you don't want to pitch a tent. It wouldn't even have to be an elaborate vacation to some resort, just a cabin in the woods, so to speak.

I wholeheartedly think vacations are a must. My family was not well-off by any stretch of the imagination, when I was a kid. We couldn't do the Disney trips or vacations to beaches. But, we did rent a cabin on a lake for a week almost every summer. Those are the memories I hold near and dear. I realize money is tight for so many of us. But, getting in some sort of vacation is completely worth it. There will come a day, when your kids will be so busy with sports, activities, jobs, etc that trying to get even one weekend in, will be very hard. Now is the time.

* As far as a trip for just me and my hubby, we're still working on that one :) Our honeymoon was such a disaster, I told him we definitely had to re-do it at some point. We are coming up on our 13 yr anniversary, and still no second honeymoon. Date nights will have to suffice for now

Good luck to you!!!

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answers from Kansas City on

How about instead of some full fledged all out week long extravaganza you just take a weekend. Some where close enough to drive within a few hours, get an expensive hotel room for everyone- make sure the place has a pool for free fun, and scope out online deal sites to get discounted admission to attractions in that area. We did that last year with our daughter. We took her to springfield, mo for the weekend. We ate at Lamberts, swam in the pool a LOT, and went to the Bass pro which was free. We had a ton of fun and with the hotel and gas we spent less than $300. Also, try to get a hotel with free breakfast to help cut down on the cost or take your own muffins or such to eat for breakfast.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Our goal is to go on one trip husband/wife and one family trip each year. Our kids are still pretty little, so it hasn't shaken out exactly like that, but pretty close. Plus, I think it's important too to take a girls weekend for me and a boys weekend for my husband. We love to vacation, however, and yes, we probably should budget it a little better than we do, but we're travelers so we always find a way to make it work. If your husband is hesitant then I agree with others who said to start out small. Go for a long weekend to start. I also agree with heading to the beach! The beach is a perfect vacation for our family, we can be in the sun and the kids love to dig in the sand and play in the water. Plus, when it's time to take a nap, we get out of the sun and relax. I personally think vacationing is the best way to reconnect. I stay at home but my husband works long hours and it's nice to have a vacation that involves no work, email or computer and we all just get to be together! I hear what you're saying about "better" ways to spend the money, but honestly, those thoughts never disappear...I mean were you ever "financially ready" to have a kid...yes and no probably. YOu can always save more or pay off more or put more in savings, but eventually you're going to just have to do it...I feel the same way with vacations. Once you go on one I think you'll realize the big benefits! Have fun and start planning! ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We like you are the same way...we took a cruise for our honeymoon, and didn't go on another vacation until our kids here 8 and 9 years old (we'd been married for 11 years by then). We took them to Disney World for two weeks and had a blast! We haven't been on a real vacation since. You didn't say how old your kiddos are...when they are old enough to enjoy a vactaion, take them somewhere. AND if you go to Disney, stay on the Disney grounds and do he meal plan. It is actually cheaper in the long run and well worth it. But do take some sort of vaction, at least once every few years. We go on weekenders or to Branson, since we have a time share that we inherited there and we count that as vacationing. If you don't do something fun every now and then you'll be missing out. Just don't go into debt to do something. Hope this helps. Good luck and God Bless.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I work M-F, hubby works Tues-Sat. For years I didn't get much vacation time, so we got into the habit of long weekend get aways. Now that I get more vacation time, we've started doing much more. The kids are getting older and soon we won't be able to take this valuable family time.

We afford these trips because I am frugal (my husband prefers cheap). Other than car payments and mortgage, we have little debt. So rather than spending on a new electronic gadget, upgraded tv, eating out, I save those for vacation costs. Yes, there's lot of other things to do with the money, but vacations are our luxury.

Long weekend (2 or 3 nights) at least twice a year - we drive arround 3 hours (for us that's Cape Cod, southern VT, southern ME). Typically we stay at a resonably priced hotel, preferrably one with a free breakfast. The cooler and picnic basket are packed, so we only eat one, sometimes 2 meals at a restaurant. Costs $500 to $1000, includes hotel, gas, meals, activies.

A few years ago we spent a week camping in VT, and went to tons of attractions (Lake Champlain boat tour, Ben & Jerrys, Shelbourne museum, wildflower farm, berry picking). I think we paid arround $2,000 - attraction costs, campground fees, gas, food. We only ate out a few times. We want to go back this summer.

A few years ago, we drove to Disney, and spent 6 nights - stopped on the way home in Savannah, GA for the day. I think the cost was arround $4,000 - gas, hotels, meals, souveniers, tickets

Occassional camping for 2 nights - total cost $85 -camping fees, firewood, gas - (we eat the same type of food we eat at home, so I don't add in that cost - just the cost for the s'mores)

In 2009 and 2010 we went to Recife, Brazil. My husband's family is there. That cost arround $6,000 each year (airfare, transporation to airport, car rental, attractions, food, gas, attractions). The first year was paid for with some inheritance money. The second year we paid. No hotel costs - we stayed with family. Seems like a lot to spend, but worth every penny. My children got to learn about thier family hertitage and see the family estate, my husband got to see his relatives, we had some great bonding moments, learned about a different culture)


answers from Chicago on

DH and I take a trip by ourselves usually 2x/year. In fact, we're going to Napa for a long weekend in 2 weeks. We have another trip to Vegas planned in May.

We also take a long weekend trip with family - our kids and SILs family every summer.



answers from New York on

I didn't read all the responses and sounds like maybe people already made comments about finances but it is "better" to pay off your car and debts!! So I'm not sure you can "afford" it. But I understand wanting to take a vacation. How often and how much people do really should depend on their finances though. 9 years seems like a long time so if you can save some money on something else to offset some of the cost, a vacation seems fair.... We take 1 a year btw though could afford more. (no mortgage or debt of any kind, lots of savings etc)



answers from Atlanta on

me and my soon to be ex husband took vacations all the time, usually one every 3 months, we usually would take a few small ones like for the weekend, and one big one in the beginning of the year. Small ones would be to like to the tennessee aquarium, and savannah, and the big ones where a 2 week vacation to disney, a week vacation to universal. and the next big one was to go gambling in cherokee however we split the day before we were leaving out, so needless to say i didn't go on that one,
My fav was when we went to disney, we stayed a week at a resort it came with the tickets to disney, and we didn't have to drive anywhere because there buses and boats took us everywhere,
I enjoyed it



answers from Philadelphia on

We only ever take family vacations. My oldest will be 13 in March and I am acutely aware that we really do not have that much time left with her before she doesn't want to go with us or she is in college:(.

My husband and I didn't take a vacation for many years but then we realized we can not get this time back with our kids and these vacations are building memories that we hope will be with them for a lifetime.

Luckily are finances permit us to take one plane trip vacation/ year. We go to Disney World or sometimes to Universal Studios. We also go to NYC about 1 -2 x's per year since we can drive there. We also go to Washington DC also with in driving distance 2xs per year for 3 nights each. I am also very lucky that we have family that has a condo at the Jersey Shore so we go there multiple times throughout the summer.

I have never regretted a vacation that I have taken but I think I would regret not taking a vacation at all. Vacations are just good for the soul! On the other hand it would not be fun to take a vacation I could not afford or if I had to worry about how to pay for it.


answers from Detroit on

Our favorite vacation was last year in TN. It was a large group of family & friends but the cabin had 12 bedrooms and 12 private baths. There was always someone to do things with. We divided the cabin by 9 (kids spilled over the extra rooms). 6 nights, horse back riding, hiking in the Smokies, swimming, miniature golf, ice cream, dined out 1x, (brough peeps who love to cook), bar night, did some other touristy stuff like cable cars to the mountains. This trip would have cost out family of four around $1K ...but...the outlet store was there and so was Naartjie *sigh* dumb place cost me another $750 conservatively.

We also take 3 day trips to a quaint little town. Ours is about 1.5 hrs away. Do the buggy thing, sample to local fare. Those can be done for about $250 or less (no shopping lol)

Did Disney 2 years ago. Cost our family of 4 around $5K. Their service there is exemplary. Disney was great but we still prefer TN (Except for hubby)

Also did TX twice. There are some nice things but just too big for me- the state, the bugs and the bug bites my girls get. Cost varies. Lodged and fed for free by my sister lol

This year I want to go to Shipshewanna (sp?), IN. It's quaint but I don't want to take the kids or hubby. I guess that would be with my girlfriends so that does not count.

There should be a lot you can do locally that is affordable and fun.



answers from Pittsburgh on

We go to the shore every summer for a week (I have been lobbying for at least 4 years to turn it into a 2 week vacation, but hubby can't miss 2 weeks of work). We rent a house or stay at a resort and the total damage is usually between $3-5K. (including the house/condo)

Don't feel guilty about your honeymoon! Everyone needs a vacation, and I believe, if you can afford it, you're long overdue!



answers from New York on

Vacations are essential for the mental health and stress reduction of our family. We vacation every year. We take on major trip and about three or four small getaways a year. We spend about $500 - $750 per person on a big trip and about $200 for the entire family for a small trip. This costs includes travel fees (lodging, car and airfare), food and fun.

There are 4 of us in the family and we occassionally have an additional neice or nephew tagging along.

We save for it and use our income tax refund as a method of saving for the trip as well as saving a great portion of that too.

I hope this helps.

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