What’s Your Favorite Type of Vacation?

What's Your Favorite Type of Vacation - picture of people hiking on side of mountain

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We talk a lot about vacation here at Club Thrifty for one simple reason: we love going on vacation!  It is our very favorite thing to do, and we look forward to our trips all year long.  We truly enjoy deciding where to go and doing all of the planning that is involved.  Actually, I’ll take that back.  *I* love the planning.  Greg is pretty laid back and happy to be going anywhere, but I really do enjoy planning out every aspect of our travels.  Planning is half of the fun in my opinion, and I love researching travel options almost as much as I enjoy going on the vacation itself.

What is your favorite type of vacation?  Here are the options that we usually consider:

  • Going to an all-inclusive resort: Greg and I did our first all-inclusive vacation in February and loved it.  I really did enjoy having everything included for one price, and I didn’t feel nickled and dimed the whole week like I usually do.  It was really convenient not to have to carry money around (aside from tip money), and I really liked not worrying about the price of dinner or drinks (I drank a lot of booze…WOOT!).  I think we will definitely do another all-inclusive trip in the next few years.  It wasn’t a very frugal vacation, but it was a blast!
  • Renting an ocean front condo: We usually do this once or twice a year.  We typically rent a 3 bedroom condo in Florida or Alabama and go with my parents.  They would probably go anyway, so it makes sense to split the cost with them.  It’s also fun to have them around and spend some quality time together!  This year, we are renting an ocean front condo twice – in May and September.  In addition to rent and gas to drive down there, we buy groceries at the store and cook most of our meals at home.
  • Going on a cruise: We have never been on a cruise.  We’ve talked about it several times, but have yet to pull the trigger.  And I get freaked out when I read stories about cruise ships getting stranded in the middle of the ocean and the people having to eat spam and going without working toilets.  I’m also worried that I would double the cost of our cruise in drinks alone, since alcohol typically isn’t included included in cruise fare.  Still, I’m considering it.
  • Taking a staycation: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRINNNNNGGGGGGGGGG…We always talk about doing this to save money but we haven’t used any vacation to stay home yet.  It just doesn’t sound like a great idea to me.  Whenever I’m home, I only see projects that need completed and the never-ending supply of dirty dishes and laundry.  Taking a staycation seems like a punishment for making bad financial decisions.
  • Traveling abroad: I am really excited to say that we are going to Europe in 2014.  We will have our hotels and flights paid for with credit card reward points (there will be a post on this soon!).  We plan on going to Italy and London, and will even be taking a road trip to see Stonehenge!  Bitchin.

There are many things that we take into consideration when we plan a vacation:

  • Cost: For the last two years, we have budgeted $6,000 annually to spend on vacations.  That amount includes food, transportation, and all expenses.  It sounds like a lot but it really isn’t when you consider that we go on 2-3 trips per year.  We usually try to take one expensive trip and a few cheap ones to balance things out.
  • Timing: We love planning our trips way ahead of time but are always worried about hurricane season or an unexpected illness.  Luckily there are ways to buy travel insurance and I love saving money with online discounts.  I’ve had no problems getting vouchers for Direct Line insurance promotions.  Luckily, we haven’t had to cancel a vacation yet.  Knock on wood!!!
  • PTO: We each have 20 PTO days at work.  Unfortunately, they are our sick days too.  We try to stretch them out as much as possible but we do have to keep our vacations within our allotted days.  It can sometimes be challenging to fit our vacations into the time off that we have!

So, there it is.  What is your favorite type of vacation?  What kind of trips do you have planned for this year?

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  1. I enjoy camping as a vacation. It’s relatively low cost and gets me out of the house and off the grid for a little while.

    I also enjoy weekend day trips. They’re like little mini-vacations for someone who is too cheap to pay for a real vacation.

    1. I cannot wait for my kids to get old enough to go camping!!!

  2. Our favorite vacations are ones that are measured in months where we basically move to a new location and live as locals… which is definitely not conducive to the 9-5 corporate lifestyle with 15 vacay days per year. Which is why we’re working on leaving it!

    1. Curious – is that something you guys have done before, and where?

    2. That sounds wonderful. I hope you guys can pull it off!

    3. I would love to get more information about your experiences. I am currently planning a 5-6 week stay in a Spanish speaking country (probably Mexico or Costa Rica). My youngest son is in a Spanish immersion preschool. The next month long trip will be someplace with a Mandarin speaking community (China or Taiwan). All of my kids are will be (two are in currently) a dual immersion Chinese program. I could use any helpful hints.

  3. Europe sounds amazing! I hope to travel to Europe someday as well. Thanks for linking to my cruise post, and even I’m wondering if going on a Carnival Cruise would be worth it! It seems like a new story every day, and it’s always Carnival. Last time I attempted a staycation I took on a huge side project for my spreadsheet work, did house projects, AND spent a crapload of time on the blog. I ended up working basically the whole week…I think it can be a good option but at the same time if you think you won’t end up working on projects and whatnot you’re kidding yourself.

    1. I feel sorry for the people who work at Carnival! They have got to be at their wits end!

  4. A relaxing one!

    $6k actually doesn’t sound like a lot to me especially since you have a family.

    I do love a night in a hotel, and occasionally we book one in the city for a splurge on a special occasion (does that count as a staycation?)

    Yay for Europe!

    1. Yes =) I think that counts as a vacation!

      Yes, 6K isn’t that much when you consider that there are four of us. We could certainly spend less but vacationing is our favorite thing to do so we are willing to put more money in that category.

  5. Vacation? What’s that?

    OK, the best we’ve managed over the last couple of years has been short trips, mostly local. Though many have been fun, they haven’t been all that relaxing, which is what I think I need most– the time and space to clear my head, get back some energy, and think!

    1. You need a vacation, Mike! I give you my permission!

  6. I sound like you Holly, I love the planning aspect as well. Generally, I am just looking to be able to relax. That said, we have been on two cruises that we have paid for ourselves and have loved it. The booze can get pricey, but nearly everything else (while on the ship) is included…unless you shop. We’ve yet to do all inclusive, but definitely plan on it. It’s been a while since we’ve been back to Europe and definitely plan on going back again.

    1. You should do an all inclusive, John! You would love it!

  7. just reading this made me want to travel again.. I really want to go on a cruise someday, perhaps a cruise in the Caribbean!! I´m a big planner too, it makes the time before the actual travelling go faster!
    So far, I´ve only planned one trip, BF and I are borrowing my parents` apartment in Gran Canaria, a Spanish Island outside of Marocco. I can`t wait. It´s the most relaxing place on earth. And it´s really cheap, since we´re travelling off season.

  8. In our dreams, an all-inclusive would be perfect: very little planning, just sit, eat and relax. Also, anything in the Carribean would be just fine with me. 🙂

    1. How about an all-inclusive in the Caribbean? That would be perfect for you!!!

  9. Our business forced us to travel to most of the favorite spots in the Caribbean and Mexico where they paid us, not us them. That’s when I discovered that the Caribbean is not a favorite spot. In the end, the only places I’d go back to are Barbados and Trinidad.

    We’re immigrants and we love America. So by far most of our trips have been driving around this beautiful country, taking (literally) thousands of pictures. We prefer non-tourist spots and off-season, because our trips are pretty much a follow-my-nose affair with no plans… and that only works if you know cheap beds are going to be available when you’re tired.

    It’s not the cheapest way to travel, so that’s not something we do every day.

    1. BOO!!!

      Just kidding. I don’t drink *that* much but it all adds up quick….especially since there are two of us!

      1. We went on a Disney cruise in January and were surprised to learn that they don’t care if you bring your own alcohol on board. Additionally, even the cheapest rooms (ours) had refrigerators. Disney costs a little bit more, but the food and overall experience was much better than any other line we’ve been on. Highly recommend it if you have children.

  10. I always like going to the beach. Relaxing in the sun is my favorite!

  11. Our fav vacation is both a type and a place. Isla De Mujeres Mexico. A great room will cost touu in the low 100’s a night. Everything is walking distance, the diving is fantastic, and a couple can eat and drink at a large selection of venues for about $70.00 a day! Why do we love this place so much? It’s as laid back as it gets, safe and you can walk everywhere!

  12. My favorite thing to do is to stay in a European city for one week or 8 days to really get a sense of the area and culture. Maybe study the language and try to converse with the natives. We have done that in Paris, London, Milan and Amsterdam and even Lisbon. We have had a tremendous time doing that and it is my favorite way to go. Cruises are also great as you can see multiple places and they are really run amazingly. Do not worry.

  13. I like staycations!

    My husband needs to go to his home ground once or twice a year or he gets all despondent. So we go to the rural midwest.

    I also like California, especially Northern California. The best vacations have good food, good weather, and nature (mountains! trees! hiking!). Also friends!

    1. I have never been to California, but have always wanted to. I have a feeling that I would love wine country!

  14. Our travel usually involves 2-3 trips a year to visit my family they live in CA, so there are worse places to spend a week! But, we need to work on building a “real” vacation into our budget. We’re not really beach people, but both of us love the outdoors. Maybe some time in the Catskills or Berkshires would be good for us.

  15. I like the all really. I like my Hawaii trips and I’ve loved my European trips. I’m trying to save money this year, so I’m just doing domestic trips, like Detroit to visit the family (NOT a vacation), fincon, and my step brother’s wedding in Seattle. I need to hang on to some money this year and save, but next year I’d like to travel overseas. Maybe Croatia…that’s always been tops on my list. BTW I took a cruise my senior year to the Bahamas with my senior class…it was a total blast, but now I’m not so sure I’d do it. I keep hearing the stories too about everyone on the ship getting the stomach flu…my worst nightmare.

    1. I really want to go to Croatia because they’ve filmed parts of Game of Thrones there and it looks amazing!!!

  16. We’re actually taking a trip to Paris next week using miles and points from playing the credit card game. I will take good notes and share my thoughts when we return. I’m looking forward to your credit card rewards post!

    My favorite type of vacation s definitely going abroad, but it’s tough to pull off because of the cost and I only get 2 weeks of vacation time a year. We’re fortunate to live close enough to bigger cities like Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis so we can take short weekend trips.

    1. I hope that you post pics of Paris! What hotel are you staying in?

  17. Financial Black Sheep says:

    If I am short on time and money I stick to doing things around Colorado. The olympic center, grand junction, the mountains, are all pretty close and inexpensive.

    As for the vacations I really love: I love exploring new states, and not having an itinerary at all–except for a budget. That is my favorite vacation by far and has yet to fail.

    1. Ohhh….I like the idea of not having concrete plans!

  18. We want to travel abroad at some point on the cheap. For now our favorite vacations are the ones that cost little money. We’ve considered couchsurfing and home sitting recently, so we’ll see what happens…

    1. Couchsurfing? LOL I haven’t heard that term for a while!

  19. My favorite “vacation” was going skiing as a family. The physical activity pushed everything out of my head. Just going for 3 days felt like a week’s vacation. My favorite vacation now is traveling particularly in Europe or overseas. I love sampling the food and the experiences of traveling.

    1. I have never been skiing but I would be afraid to get seriously injured!

  20. Well, we bought a camper so a majority of our vacation time is spent at campgrounds, which was great last year (except the time when our awning blew off during a freak wind gust), but my absolute favorite is to be along the oceanside beach.

  21. For my cheap vacations, I love to go camping. My wife and I are the outdoor type. If we were going with an expensive vacation, it would be a cruise all the way. We went on one and have been hooked every since. They are awesome (maybe not Carnival 😉 ) and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    1. I think I would skip Carnival for a while too! They need to do some basic maintenance on their ships for heavens sake!~

  22. Our kids ended up being very spread out, and for the most part, I don’t like taking vacations with kids over 14 months and under 3.5 years just because the sleeping and daytime boredom issues mean that their needs dominate. So our trips end up being pretty short and pretty local for the most part at this point in our lives.

    I’m a big traveler. I LOVE seeing the world. My husband? Hmm… Not so much. So in the future, the older kids and I may go on trips and he may be left to put the little(s) in daycare for a week or two!

    1. I know what you mean! My kids are 1 and 3 and they make traveling a challange. It is getting easier though.

  23. I haven’t met a vacation I didn’t like, but I like camping for local vacays, and definitely prefer abroad if at all possible. I’m in love with South America and want to explore more of it. So excited for you on your European trip!! 😀

    1. Greg really wants to go to South America as well! I’m sure we will one day!

  24. I dont think a staycation necessarially means you stay IN YOUR HOUSE, does it? I like staycations where you go to a nice hotel or resort (or water resort) near your house. I would hate a staycation in my apartment for a week, but I was petsitting for a family over a long weekend and I made it my own staycation. I explored the food and the area where she lives. It was very relaxing!

    1. When I think of staycation, I think of staying home. But it might mean different things to different people! I would be okay with just leaving my house, I suppose. I have so many responsibilities here!!!

  25. Have you considered doing something like a B&B close to home? The woman and I were talking about that the other day. We are lucky to live in an extremely good spot in the USA. We’re 45 minute away from the beach to the east, and about 5-6 hours away from the Appalachian Mountains to the west. But since were frugal, we rarely take a vacation. We didn’t take a day trip to the beach not even once last summer! My first vacation this year is the start of the Appalachian Trail with my dad down in Georgia though and being an Eagle Scout, I already have all the gear, just $150 gas bill there and back for a whole week with my dad and backpacking. So excited!

    1. No, not really. We live in Indiana and it’s pretty darn boring. But our beach vacations are fairly cheap. We rented a condo for the week of May 4th-11th and are taking my parents. We are paying $600 and my parents are paying $500 for a total of $100 for the week. Then we will go to the grocery store and make most of our meals at home. The entertainment is free- beach, swimming pools, etc! $85 per night is pretty darn cheap for a beach front condo and we drive our Prius down to save on gas.

    1. Greg has this crazy dream that we are going to rent a motor home and drive all over the country. Maybe one day!

      1. Do it – rent the motorhome and travel. Spouse and I flew to Anchorage, rented a big-ass RV and saw sites the likes of which we never even imagined. Seriously – WAY too much fun. Just do it – you will not regret it.

        1. I think we will when the kids get older! It’s one of Greg’s dreams!

  26. We were big travelers up until the baby showed up. We hope to get back out there soon, but I think we’re somewhat grounded for the time being. Maybe next year we’ll venture out a bit more. Cost is a big part of the issue, but also traveling with a baby may detract from some of the enjoyment. (:

    1. Ugh, been there. I totally agree. Traveling with a baby takes away some of the enjoyment but it does get easier as they get older. Hang in there!

  27. We want to go to Cancun, MX for our next vacation. I’m already starting to do research 🙂 Trying to figure out much it will costs us.

    1. I want to go to Cancun someday too! I’ve never been to Mexico.

  28. Anything involving water, is really my favorite. We’ve been to Hawaii twice and loved every second of it! 🙂

  29. I love all vacations that get me out of the house. We’re heading to downtown Portland after tax season for a weekend getaway and wine tour. Should be a blast, and funded all on points! 😉

  30. I am on day 7 of a 10 day vacation and I haven’t been anywhere. I have debt and 2 kids in university and dogs so travel is just not part of my life.

    I have slept in and napped every day and I am wearing pajama pants and one of my son’s old sweatshirts and no bra and I am getting paid to do it. I have to wear a bra and socks to work every single day and I have not worn socks all week.

    1. I love “no bra” days!!! I hope that you are having a relaxing staycation!!!

  31. I have yet to try out an all inclusive resort yet but if I would go to one I would choose the Sandels in St. Lucia. It has 3 resorts on the island and they are stunning. As for other ways to take a vacation timeshares are not bad as long as you don’t have to own one, but what I really like to do is rent a house on places like Home Away, or VRBO. You can find some really awesome deals on these sites and take a vacation that isn’t to expensive.

  32. While I greatly enjoyed my resort vacations, I really appreciate when we travel overseas and get the chance to stay locally. In my last time overseas, we found an amazing hostel that was far better than any of the hotels we had stayed at on the trip!

  33. My favorite sort of vacation is the kind that I can afford 🙂

    So for as much debt as I have, that means it’s staying home for me 🙂

  34. I think you do a very good job of weighing the pros and cons of an all-inclusive resort, Holly. There is definitely a tradeoff between ease of mind and saving here and there.

  35. We LOVE to travel too. I normally plan them a year in advance so my husband and I can take the time off from work and save our pennies for the trip. This summer we are going on a Disney Cruise. The girls are giddy and Mom and Dad are pretty giddy too. 🙂 I understand your trepidation about cruises. I covered my ears during the last mishap because I didn’t want to jinx our trip! I love inclusive resorts too. You just feel pampered. Not cheap, but worth it.

  36. I love travelling abroad and visit different beaches. I am absolutely a beach bum.

  37. We’ve had a couple weekend trips (actually mid-week trips since it is almost impossible for my wife to get a weekend off) to casinos, but for actual vacations we have always traveled East to visit family.

    My wife has done a couple stay-cations. Taking the entire week off is the only way to get Thanksgiving off.

  38. Hi Holly, trust me you will love cruising. My wife and I have been on two (first to Bermuda, second New England and Canada) and both were great. Drinking can get a little pricey, but there are wine & spirit stores on board if you wish to soften the blow. Great thing is the bartenders do not water down the drinks, they want you to have a blast. I have been on three total, each time RCL In my opinion, this line is classier and more cutting edge than Carnival or other lines. However, all the new megaships are amazing. Congrats on paying the large sum on mortgage, we are right there with you.

    1. I think we will take your advice and go with a higher grade cruise line. I’m sure I will love crusing. It seems like the best way to see a bunch of the islands in one trip. We were also talking about taking the kids on a Disney Cruise on some point…because I think they would love it!

      Thanks about the mortgage! That’s awesome that you’re paying yours off too. I cannot wait to pay the final payment!

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