Should You Take Vacations in a Bad Economy?

For whatever reason, this seemingly simple question has come up in conversation twice this week with two unrelated groups of individuals. During the first conversation, the tone was firmly set against vacations, with good reasons to back it up. In the second case, everyone was adamant that vacations were a must, with equally compelling reasons. How can two groups of people, in what appears to be a similar financial and job situation, have such disparate views? What are some of the benefits of continuing to take vacations in this economy, and also some of the potential potholes? I asked some of those same people to clue me in.

Reasons you should continue to take vacations:

  • You’ve Earned the Right to Do So: Your benefits package says you can take two weeks of vacation every year, and you’ll be darned if you let that benefit go by unnoticed. After all, if you don’t use it, your employer just “gains” two week’s worth of pay on your expired vacation time.
  • Effectiveness Requires Breaks: You can’t expect to put in 110% day after day without taking a little time off to recharge your engines. Especially in a bad economy, when work requires extra effort and extra hours, it’s even more important to take the time to step away from the office.
  • Cut Back on Flaring Tempers: I’ve seen first-hand what a bad economy and stressful work situation can do with people’s tempers. A few days out of the office is just what the doctor ordered to calm those nerves.
  • The Economy May Get Worse: It’s true – some people are waiting until “things get better” to take vacation time. But you may need to wait longer than a year for the time to come.
  • Don’t Live on The “What-If”: Stop living on what could possibly happen and keep living life the way you have always done – vacations included.
  • Save Money by Not Getting Sick: I’m a firm believer in the relationship between time off and overall well-being and stress level. It can therefore be said that taking vacations could save potential dollars on what would otherwise turn into lifestyle-driven health problems.

Reasons for cutting back or eliminating vacations:

  • Companies are Short on Cash: Your company is already short on cash, and now that you’re on vacation, they have to pay you to be somewhere else, instead of in the office producing cash flow. Blasphemy!
  • Cash Buffer if Laid Off: Most employers will pay out the remaining balance in your vacation bank if you are laid off from the company. If cash at home is scarce, this (however small) “insurance” policy against losing your job may be worth postponing vacations.
  • Always Available for Team Play: You are waiting for the next available opportunity to grab hold of any billable project coming into your office. You’re afraid that if you leave, one might come by and you will miss your opportunity to prove your “worth” to the company.
  • Save Money by Avoiding Travel: This one probably makes the most sense. If you take vacation time, you are likely to travel, even if you don’t go very far. By not taking time off, you would be saving money on travel, lodging, car rental, and other related expenses.

There is a lot of grey area in this question for me, and it’s difficult to tell what I would do, if last year’s honeymoon didn’t completely wipe out my vacation time. How about you?

6 thoughts on “Should You Take Vacations in a Bad Economy?

  1. I vote for vacation but if you don’t have the money to go then I vote for second best…”stacation”. Just stay at home and relax….

    Side note: Great blog!!!!

  2. I completely agree with not living on the what ifs….you’ll never get anywhere that way. Plus some time off to de-stress is always good…good or bad economy.

    I’m curious to see what others think…..:)

    Very informative Blog!

  3. A year later, I’ll weigh in!! Both me and my boyfriend had parents that never took vacation in good or bad economies, always waiting until things “got better.” Now that we’re living together, we make a point of doing something every year. People chide us that we’re not paying off debts as rapidly, but seriously, if we pay $2,500 total for one full week away plus a couple of 3-4 day vacations, and $30,000/year in principal off our debts, I’m going to enjoy the heck out of that week so I can keep grinding on those debts. That time away is so refreshing and rejuvenating, and even if we decide to go nowhere, it’s nice to not come home and still be thinking about work when we do.

    1. I think that’s a really good approach. If you burn yourself out trying to get out of debt, it might not be a sustainable lifestyle change!

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