5 Reasons for Vacation Overspending

Quote: the best vacation doesn't have to be extravagant

You can take it as a given that tourists throughout the world will be bursting their holiday budgets this year and the next. Tourism has bounced back with a vengeance. After more than two years of cabin fever and pent-up demand, globetrotters worldwide are determined to make up for lost time. 

Here in Singapore, many people I know are vacationing this December. In a way, I’m really glad that Singaporeans are finally travelling again. The feeling of being stranded is particularly acute when you live in a small and densely populated city-state. (FYI, Singapore is about 170 times smaller than New York.) 

Having said that, the whole idea of revenge travel does not sit well with me. Exactly who or what are we seeking revenge on? The way I see it is that we end up hurting ourselves financially when we go on revenge travel. 

Revenge is sweet? Not when you are the one ultimately paying the price. Figuratively and literally. 

The truth is, even without Covid-19, we always have a ‘good’ reason/excuse to splurge while on vacation.

All of us have the tendency to overspend while on holiday and we usually justify ourselves with five reasons. Find out what these reasons are in this article, so that you will be more mindful the next time you travel. 

  1. I’m Entitled to Splurge
  2. I Won’t be Back
  3. I Don’t Want to be a Spoilsport
  4. It’s So Cheap
  5. It’s a Wonderful Memento/Gift

1. I’m Entitled to Splurge

Your job is extremely demanding and you have been slogging away all year. At long last you are taking a much-needed vacation! You deserve to splurge on whatever you like!

Many holiday-makers overspend to compensate for a hectic work-life. They feel that they have been mistreating themselves, so they need to make amends by blowing some serious cash. The irony is that they will have to work even harder to pay off the bills they chalked up after that. 

The long-term outcome is usually a vicious circle — the harder they work, the more they spend on their vacations. And the spending doesn’t stop there. Every time they feel stressed at work, they reward themselves with something expensive. Stress is after all the number one spending trigger.  

Is this you I’m talking about? 

2. I Won’t Be Back

You will be flying more than 10,000 miles from the US to Australia for a three-week holiday. You have been looking forward to the trip for months and you can hardly contain your excitement. It may be your first and last trip down under (the long distance is a real bummer), so keeping to a budget is the furthest thing from your mind. You are just going to enjoy yourself and not think about money! Australia, here I come! 

As the old justification runs, it’s fine to splurge if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Really? No wonder so many people are broke when they come back from their dream vacations.

It’s like weddings. Many people will say that they just want a small and simple wedding, only to end up spending huge fortunes on the venue, the flowers, the live band, and the list goes on. But hey, you only get married once, so you shouldn’t have to care how hefty the final bill is, right? 

Think again.

3. I Don’t Want to Be a Spoilsport

It has been years since your family took a vacation. You finally planned a trip abroad and it’s going to be perfect! You, your spouse and your two children will have some wonderful family bonding time!

Fast-forward to the third day of your trip. Everyone is having a whale of a time at a theme park and both your kids want to buy some souvenirs AGAIN. Although you think the items are a total waste of money, you feel compelled to say yes because your kids hardly travel and you don’t have the heart to ruin their fun. The last thing you want is to be accused of being a spoilsport, especially since your spouse has been so indulgent towards them since arrival. 

But will saying no to your kids really spoil their enjoyment of the holiday? Have you tried talking to them about not spending too much on souvenirs? Maybe your holiday is a great opportunity to teach them the importance of thrift. Just saying…

4. It’s So Cheap

You are holidaying in a less developed country for the first time in your life and you are thoroughly enjoying yourself. You love the rich cultural experience and OMG… your money goes a long way here! Day tours are super affordable, good restaurant meals are a fraction of the cost back home and a full-body massage is three times cheaper than what you are used to paying! You are going to splurge like there’s no tomorrow!

Pardon my French, but please calm the f*** down. Yes, you do travel more for less when you visit less developed countries. However, not everything is value for money and you should beware of tourist traps. 

The currency difference may also cause you to overspend. Studies have show that you are likely to spend more if the nominal (face) value of the foreign currency is a fraction of your home currency. For instance, if you are travelling from Singapore to Vietnam, your one Singapore dollar is worth roughly 18,028 Vietnamese dong. The high-denomination bills may give the false impression that you have more money to spend. This applies to currencies of both developed and less developed countries. So unless you are like Mr Wow who is very good at doing mental currency conversions, please use a calculator before you start chirping like a bird, ‘Cheap cheap… cheap cheap…’

Check out: The Compulsive Consumer vs the Austere Saver

5. It’s a Wonderful Memento/Gift

You love buying pieces of memory.  

But are you sure you will wear that tacky ‘I love ___’ tee back home? What about that expensive kimono? And the sombrero? Don’t you think it’s too over the top for gardening? And just how many mugs and key chains do you need? Is it really necessary to give a friend who has never set foot in Thailand a fridge magnet that says ‘Thailand, the Land of Smiles’? Would he even appreciate it? Maybe the thought, but definitely not the gift.

Quote: Your friend doesn't need a fridge magnet from a country he has never been to.

I really don’t get it. Why do so many people waste their hard-earned money on silly souvenirs and useless trinkets when they travel? Most holiday knick-knacks are worthless objects. They not only burn a hole in your pocket, but also create clutter at home. Do you really need them to remind you of your vacations?

So how do you ensure that your next vacation does not turn into a splurge-cation? Two words: FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE. 

I can go on and on about the importance of budgeting, but it’s pointless to budget if you are going to forget the value of money the moment your plane touches ground. The purpose of this article is to create awareness, which is the required first step to problem-solving. Once you have a full understanding of what’s causing you to overspend while on holiday, you can work on improving the situation. 

It’s pointless to budget if you are going to forget the value of money the moment your plane touches ground.

For example, it’s not too late to realise that your past vacations have been one buying frenzy after another. From now on, remind yourself that just because you can afford to buy something doesn’t mean it’s necessary. The best holiday doesn’t have to be extravagant. Focus on the experience, not things. You don’t need every souvenir that catches your eye. If you must buy a gift for someone, buy food like chocolates, nuts, nougat, etc. Tea and coffee make very nice gifts too. Trust me, your friend will prefer anything that belongs in the fridge to a fridge magnet that serves no purpose. 

The best holiday doesn’t have to be extravagant. Focus on the experience, not things.

A vacation should be a fun and relaxing experience, but you may end up feeling guilty and stressed if you overspend. So keep your financial goals in mind and spend prudently. Are you guilty of spending too much while on vacation? Do leave us a comment. 

If your spending habits are causing friction between you and your spouse, you might want to read my article How We Resolve Our Money Differences as a Couple.

Related posts: Why You Should Track Your Expenses Down to the PennyCash Stuffing Budgeting System: No Thanks! | Cut Your Expenses: Quit Buying These 8 Useless Things

Mrs Wow

Mrs Wow (aka Lynn) became debt-free in 2018, achieved financial independence in 2019, and retired in 2020 at the age of 42. She believes in staying invested even if there’s a level-5 shit storm. A homebody, she spends her free time reading, blogging and listening to music. Follow her on 𝕏 (@wowpursuits).

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