I’ve been working hard in school for a long time now. With my senior year looming and my career set to start after that, it looks like I’m going to keep working hard for the foreseeable future. I need a break! So I’m looking to take a big vacation — probably to Hawaii, if I can afford it.
But that’s a pretty big “if!” I really want to take a serious vacation, but I don’t have a ton of money right now, and I don’t want to cripple myself financially right at the outset of my career. Experts, do you have any advice for getting the best bang for my buck on a vacation?
Taking a break is a great idea! You’ve clearly been serious about your schooling and plan to work hard to make your career, and there’s every reason to believe that you’ve earned a vacation. And, in fact, it’s likely that taking this vacation (and others in the future) will actually help your career and productivity. Studies show that taking time off can make us more productive and happier, leading to more overall success. In other words, you can almost think of a vacation like this as an investment!
Of course, for a vacation to truly be an investment in your success, it needs to be within your means. While taking breaks is good, emptying your bank account (or, worse yet, going into debt) to take a fancy vacation is very, very bad. In the early days of your career, you’ll need to focus on saving and paying off loans — not on spending big bucks to live the kind of lifestyle that older and more established professionals do. Take your time and get to that point in the right schedule while making sure that you’re thinking about your future needs and success!
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t head to Hawai’i, though — that all depends on your personal budget. And, in fact, experts tell us that there are some great affordable attractions in Hawai’i. You may find that you can go surfing in Hawaii, scuba diving, or enjoy a Maui luau without breaking the bank — especially if you take advantage of sales, all-in-one deals, and other cost-cutting techniques.
Be sure to look at travel websites, too: deal-hunting sites like Travelocity and its many competitors will compete for your travel dollars by offering low prices on airfare, hotels, and other travel necessities. Combining your bookings onto one site could help you save. And be sure to check budget airline websites — some of the big budget airlines don’t participate in sites like Travelocity, so it pays to do your research.
Don’t take a vacation you can’t afford — you don’t want to end up in credit card debt at the start of your career. With that said, you can and should pay for your plane tickets, hotel stays, and other travel essentials with a credit card that will give you cash back, points, or other perks. Vacations can be pricey, which can mean big benefits if you’re using a card with perks of this sort. If you don’t already have a good credit card, do your research and pick out the best credit card for the job. Though you aren’t yet in the professional world, you might be surprised at what you can get out of student credit cards. Just remember to pay off the full balance of your card every month — it’s the best way to stay out of debt, especially right now when you haven’t begun your career.
Whether you choose to head to Hawai’i or somewhere else, be sure to stay in your budget and take advantage of ways to save! Of course, this is the planning phase: once you’ve planned everything out, all you’ll need to do is kick back and relax. You’ll be able to do that worry-free if you plan things out right and mind your budget. So do your research, be sensible, and then go somewhere and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it, and it will do you good.
Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace. — Paul Theroux