Should I Go On Vacation With Credit Card
Sunday, April 10, 2022
The prime minister’s recent announcement of the rescinding of measures under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) left many people almost giddy with glee. It signalled to them that the last two years of living in a veritable wilderness had finally come to an end. But how to return to normal life, aka life pre-COVID? What even was life before COVID?
One of the markers of this life was the quintessential summer vacation, that glorious time of year between July and August when friends and family went off on holiday whether to near or distant shores. Being on lockdown as the world grappled with the health crisis stifled wanderlust, but now that normalcy has begun to come into view, should you go on vacation this year?
Why are we discussing summer vacation already, you may wonder. The virus has by no means been eliminated, and in fact, in certain jurisdictions, seems to be resurging. Still, it’s held people hostage for too long; it’s time to move forward and pick up the pieces. And if you were traditionally a vacation person, this is the time you would have started to make concrete plans and begun building a saving fund to minimise summer holiday debt. This year, you need to first decide: Will you do a staycation or board a plane to somewhere? All staycationed out, having done it on a budget for two years consecutively? Strolling the boardwalk in Atlantic City or checking out department stores on Flagler or watching a stunning sunset over the Atlantic in Myrtle Beach more your thing? Before you log on to Expedia, there are some things you should bear in mind.
Is it worth it?
Let’s face it. Many people have racked up substantial credit card debt especially during those grim early pandemic days of 2020 when there seemed to be no light at the end of that very dark pre-vaccine COVID-19 tunnel. New clothes and shoes today populate closets, and while you’ve begun working to pay down this credit card debt, the Russian-Ukraine war has thrown an additional monkey wrench into pay-off timelines because, as a result of this volatility, money has significantly contracted. And, let’s be clear, this is going to be a long-haul situation even if Putin retreated right now. Additionally, the world’s economies — Jamaica’s included — are still grappling with the socio-economic ravages of COVID, and have a long road ahead to recovery.
Fact is travel can be very expensive, not to mention those easily incurred, unplanned costs. Can you save for this trip and not use credit? Real talk: You’re in this credit card predicament now because temptation is your trigger. Will your post-lockdown vacation be the time when you’ll magically learn financial discipline? Ask yourself this and answer it honestly: By going on holiday this summer, will I in all likelihood not just be burying myself deeper under a mountain of high-interest debt that can take years to pay down? Remember that old-time Jamaican saying: “If you want good your nose have to run.”
Are you financially responsible?
On the other hand, there’s a school of thought which posits that it is quite possible to travel whilst paying off debt, and that you should find a balance between enjoying your life and making smart personal finance moves. Especially when the debt isn’t particularly debilitating and you can significantly pay down debt in these next few months leading up to summer. A side hustle, for example, could bring your debt down substantially or maybe even completely paid off before you pack your bags. Life doesn’t have to be joyless when your financial circumstances are less than optimal. Besides, a vacation might just provide the opportunity to refocus on your goal of becoming debt-free and coming up with fresh ideas for extricating yourself from debt. Just remember not to put yourself too much more in debt.
This is possible by keeping things on a tight budget and travelling frugally. Estimate what the costs will be overall, down to the cost of cab fare from the airport, etc (so that there are no surprises necessitating unforeseen costs), and then set out to cut those costs. The biggest costs will be airfare and accommodations. Ask yourself, when are plane tickets cheaper to purchase for summer? What days and what specific times of the day? And also, weigh the pros and cons of staying at a hotel as against an Airbnb. And do you stay in an area in the heart of the city where everything is almost in walking distance or where there is reliable and economical subway service, or do you go further away where cab fare and other attendant costs can cut alarmingly into your disposable spending money?
The mercury has already started to soar, so now is the time to decide what your vacation plans will be this year. These will be affected by what your debt situation is. Regardless of the debt you’re currently in, however, keep in mind that additional expense, like a vacation, without a pay-off plan will take you further away from your timeline for achieving debt freedom. Make your choices wisely.
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