1 in 4 Can’t Afford a Summer Vacation

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What a drag. One in four Americans said they can’t afford to take a vacation this summer.

The 3.8 percent unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2000, when the high-technology industry was going gangbusters. Despite the economy’s current strength, the cost of a vacation puts it out of reach for millions of people.

The average family of four spends about $4,000 on vacation, Bankrate said. Air fares don’t seem to be the issue – they are lower now than they were five years ago. But families living on a limited budget are more likely to drive, and the price of gasoline has shot up 25 percent over the past year, to around $2.90 per gallon.

Many people are shortchanging themselves on vacations, because they are “living paycheck to paycheck,” analyst Greg McBride said in a recent Bankrate blog.

Indeed, workers paid on an hourly basis can’t seem to get ahead. Their wage increases, adjusted for inflation, have been flat over the past year. Further, one in four U.S. households couldn’t come up with $2,000 even in an emergency, according to one widely cited study a few years ago. A summer vacation is probably out of the question for them.

Everyone needs a little time off to decompress and relax. Yes, it would be great to go on a deluxe fishing trip to Canada or cycle around Tuscany for two weeks, but there are more affordable ways to enjoy a few days off. A “staycation” is better than nothing. And the cost of a trip can be kept under $500 – one in four people do it, Bankrate said.

But cost isn’t the only reason people skip their vacation – family and work obligations also get in the way. A majority of workers, according to Bankrate, aren’t even using all of their paid vacation days.

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Our definition of vacation is skewed. A vacation is a time to get away, but as monks have shown, this could be in the comfort of your home if you take up meditation…

Now I know meditation isn’t for everyone, but maybe vacation should be replaced with staycation…a low-cost method of getting away from your everyday life, even if it’s still in your city.

This can be done on the cheap and the commitment is minimal.

I’ve stayed in a Mongolian hut once that someone had in his backyard…it felt like I was in another country!


Agreed that we all need the opportunity to relax. A big draw for us as empty-nesters is going off-season. We’ve stayed in fabulous resorts off-season for half price or less, always look for breakfast included. And a very nice dinner only once or twice, not every night. Often no specific agenda, works for us.

Paul Brustowicz

The Trappist Monks at Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina pray together seven times a day, seven days a week starting at 3:20 in the morning. They have quiet time, personal prayer and meditation throughout the day. They also work at various jobs at the Abbey: cultivating mushrooms, counseling retreatants and maintaining the library. Bedtime is 8 P.M.

Visitors who I lead on tours always remark on the calmness and serenity they feel at the Abbey. Don’t know if staycation will bring a monastic experience, but it is worth a try even if you don’t get up at 3 o’clock in the morning to pray.

    G Alliger

    Wow, 2 comments on meditation/prayer. Totally agree: vacation or staycation, “Seek peace and pursue it.”

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