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TheStreet Open House

The cure for vacation deprivation: A vacation budget





After a long and brutal winter in parts of the U.S., warmer temperatures and sunshine are finally heading our way. And, although it doesn't seem possible, an entire quarter of this year is behind us already. In most places, schools are out of session -- at least for a few weeks -- which means that families are taking their first major hiatus of the year. And everyone seems to be on Spring Break … except for you.

If you spend any time on social media, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. Your Facebook and Twitter feeds are likely exploding with vacation updates ad nauseam. Sun-bathed selfies have become the norm, along with all those people "checking in" at their favorite resort or restaurant. And I totally get it. Vacation is fun, and people want to share their experience with family members, friends, co-workers, and random acquaintances. But sometimes they take it too far, and those hourly updates can become downright annoying in a hurry, especially if you aren't in a position to take a vacation yourself.

Vacation Deprivation Syndrome: A widespread epidemic

If you're feeling vacation-deprived, you're not alone. A 2013 study by travel giant Expedia concluded that 59 percent of Americans and 62 percent of workers worldwide feel deprived of time off. And, it isn't just due to lack of opportunity. According to the study, Americans only used ten out of every 14 vacation days they were awarded in 2013, leaving many as 577,212,000 unused.

But why?

The Expedia study highlights a few of the most popular reasons Americans often choose to forgo their precious paid time off. For starters, 27 percent of survey participants stockpile their vacation days for future use, perhaps for extended travel or maybe "just in case." Another 24 percent have trouble coordinating vacation days with others, a problem I suspect is widespread among families with two working parents. A whopping 35 percent of Americans surveyed had to postpone or cancel vacation due to work obligations or deadlines, and another 17 percent chose to cash in their PTO and take the money in lieu of their earned days off.

Breaking the cycle

Even if you have vacation days and plan to use them, plenty of issues can force you to stay home. You know how it goes. You save up for a trip but spend the money fixing your leaky roof instead. Or, you find out your child needs braces and, as always, decide to put their needs ahead of your own. Life has a way of creating roadblocks when we least expect them, and we often end up sacrificing leisure activities in order to do the responsible thing.

Adulthood can feel rather unrewarding at times, but it doesn't have to be that way. Fortunately, there is one way to ensure that your vacation plans take a higher priority than they have in past years, and that the funds are there when you need them. The solution: A vacation budget.

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