How people from different generations save up and pay for vacation

How did you save up and pay for your summer vacation?

There has been a lot written about millennials and their love of travel. How they value experiences instead of overseas shopping sprees. How they find ways to mix work trips with vacation. (Okay, but does “bleisure” really have to be a word?) While I’ve met lots of younger people who’ve been to far-flung corners of the globe before they’ve sprouted a single gray hair, my parents, who grew up during the Great Depression, didn’t go to Europe until they’d been married for 25 years. (Then again, they didn’t have travel points back then.) All this got me wondering how different generations approach vacations—and what they do to afford them. Here are three responses.


“Several months before I was hoping to travel to Mexico, an opportunity came up at work to take on some overtime on a temporary special project. I worked out a budget for my trip and a schedule that would get me there and worked extra hours for a few months, setting aside the extra money in each paycheck. By the time my vacation arrived, I had funds to pay for it without affecting my usual budget or savings—and had also banked brownie points at work!”

—Marguerite, Providence, R.I.

Takeaway: Banking extra hours at work is good for your travel budget and your office rep.

Gen X

“First off, both of our summer vacations were with extended family. In both cases we crashed with relatives, so we didn’t need to pay for lodging. That saved us a ton. But with a kid, airfare adds up to a lot. Plus, he eats. To cobble together money for the trips, I took on a couple of freelance assignments in addition to my day job. One thing that saves us from paying after vacation is over: We try to keep our credit cards tucked away in our wallets. It’s too easy to get into the mentality of, ‘I’ll only be here once. I should indulge myself!’”

—Glen Norville, Rochester, N.Y.

Takeaway: Curbing your credit cards can save you from overspending—and a financial hangover when vacay is over.


“I paid for my airfare and my hotel a few months in advance. That reduced the credit card bill I got after the vacation. I also automatically transfer money into savings every month. Using these methods, I usually end up with no debt following a trip. I haven’t always done it this way. I used to just put the entire vacation on my credit card and plan to pay it all off the next month. But I like starting a few months in advance much better. Sometimes, restaurant and shopping expenses during a trip cost more than plane tickets and lodging.”

—Louise Schlossberg, Riverside, Calif.

Takeaway: Pay for big-ticket travel costs way ahead, so you don’t have a pile of bills waiting when you get home.

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