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Summer Plans


On the island of Capri

I remember teaching a night class at a community college while I was still a graduate student finishing up my PhD over a decade ago. This class was full of working adults – a room full of post-traditional learners, many of whom also had caregiving responsibilities, bills to pay, and all of the normal stuff that comes along with adulthood. That first day in the class I asked everyone what they did over the summer. The same question, when asked to a group of “traditional” college students receives all kinds of varied and interesting responses and tales of travels near and far. With my room of working adults? Nothing. A lot of “I worked” and not much else. Major fail on my part for not considering the audience.

Today’s Economy

I was chatting recently with one of my best friends from childhood, catching up on each other’s lives. She and her husband live a modest lifestyle. She is the secretary at the elementary school her children attend and her husband is the manager at a hotel. They have enough to meet their needs, but not much in the way of extras.

When chatting about summer plans, she has a little staycation situation planned. The family will be doing a day trip a couple hours way to visit some fun kid-themed places, and then they’ll stay at a hotel where they get a free room thanks to the husband’s job. I think it sounds lovely, but she seemed a little embarrassed at how modest it was. She explained, “I don’t know how anyone can do anything in this economy!” And it’s true….inflation has really been a kick in the pants.

Money and Feelings

I know my friend didn’t intend it, but it made me feel a little guilty. For so much of my life, I have lived completely bare bones. I’ve written past posts here from when my kids were tiny about making my own baby wipes. I’ve also made DIY cleaning solutions, washed and re-used (off-brand) Ziplock bags, and shared various side-gig hustles. It’s only in the past couple of years that we’ve started to go on “real” vacations (i.e., planned destinations versus just driving to visit family). It’s expensive, yes, but I’ve been working full-time in my career for a decade and I want to make some memories with my kids before they’re grown (they grow so fast! They’ll be 12 this month!

Finding a Balance

I know this is a “me” thing, as my friend certainly was NOT trying to make me feel bad. But I had just shared with her all about my husband’s and my recent trip to Italy! How could I not feel tone deaf and dense when turning around and asking her about vacation plans only to hear they’re going to a neighboring city for one night. Definitely took me back to that night class I taught at the community college way back when. Should’ve learned my lesson then!

Has anyone found themselves in a similar situation? I’m almost entirely debt-free aside from my mortgage and last remaining bit of student loans that are anticipated to be forgiven in under 2 years. No debt on credit, vehicles, medical, or other “extras.” It was only after reaching this point that I started to do more of the fun extra type of stuff (by saving up and paying cash). I don’t want to feel guilty about having that privilege, but I also want to be sensitive to the fact that many others are NOT in the same position to be taking European vacations, etc.

How have you handled these types of situations?


  • Reply Walnut |

    I resonate with these feelings a lot. I’m very fortunate to have the means (for now) to be able to travel globally with my family. Sometimes those trips are attached to work trips, but some a pure fun. We often times bring family along and pick up as much of the expense as possible, because this kind of travel is certainly not in their budgets. I specifically do not share these travel adventures very widely and definitely not on social media.

    We’ve certainly had lots of years where expenses were high and all of our travel was roadtrips to see family. Those vacations were great too! I think about the frugal years and the life wakeup calls that led to us cutting expenses, paying off our mortgage in full, moving cross country to increase our income, a cancer diagnosis that reset all those priorities again, etc, etc. There’s also an incredible amount of spending we say “no” to in order to move more dollars into our travel fund.

    Also, some of it is dumb luck. Through privilege, luck, frugality, hard work and calculated risks, we caught lightning in a bottle to have income that allows for a travel budget at all.

  • Reply jj |

    Once you’re not bragging – I don’t really see an issue with discussing vacation plans amongst friends and family. Everyone in my family sees and does more than I do – I make way less. That’s the way the cookie has crumbled.

  • Reply Alice |

    I have to govern myself when talking about upcoming trips. Especially to someone who might not have the same means that I do. And I realize what a blessing it is to be in the place I am. Even having the luxury of ample leave time is something that not everyone has.

So, what do you think ?