Vacation and Financial Education

While I am in vacation planning mode I realized that an important consideration in every family about what the vacation will include is the total cost of a vacation.

Whether you stay with family or friends, drive, fly, leave the country, go to an amusement park, have a picnic, take a helicopter ride, or hike a mountain, may well have to do with your family budget, which you may or may not be used to sharing with your children.

Planning a vacation is a great way to introduce budgeting to your teens and help them understand how expensive traveling can be. It is fair and reasonable that the parent(s) pick the total cost of the vacation, which usually decides the number of days you can travel. Once the total is decided on, then make a list of the other expenses including travel (e.g., car rental, airfare, gas, parking at the airport or a super shuttle to/from the airport), accommodations (e.g., hotels or a thank you gift for family or a friend), food, activities, souvenirs, and unexpected costs.

If you are comfortable, let the kids go wild, picking everything they want, identify the costs and then total it up. If it is over your budget, then start helping them prioritize what is important. Is the convertible worth the extra $200 a week? Is a 4-star hotel as important as being able to spend the day at an amusement park? Would everyone be happy taking a cooler and making sandwiches every day versus going out for lunch. Are there places to stay that include a breakfast for everyone? Other important things might be to give everyone a souvenir budget for the whole trip - that they decide how to spend, but once it is spent, there is no more.

Picking restaurants, activities, distance from home, mode of travel, etc. all may be easier and quicker if done by a parent, but teens will get some great planning skills and financial education by participating in the process. Good luck planning!

Phot credit: Jacob.Enos
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