5 Ways Your Vacation Hurts Your Future

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Don't get us wrong -- everybody deserves, and needs, a vacation. The benefits of time off from life's daily challenges has innumerable health and psychological benefits.

You work hard for your money and deserve to enjoy it.
The escalating cost of getting away from it all can sap the savings of even financially savvy people more than most realize.

But the escalating cost of getting away can sap your wallet and savings more than you realize.

According to AAA, roughly 57% of Americans plan to take a vacation of four days or more this summer. Nearly half are budgeting $1,000 on their summertime excursions.

While we might scoff at someone who buys a new, cutting-edge computer system or an HDTV multimedia setup once a year, few raise an eyebrow when just as much is spent on a vacation each year. It is as though "vacation money" isn't real money.

Even the most frugal vacationer may find that their fun in the sun will end up costing them more than they expected, especially in the long run. Here are five reasons why:

Cutting into savings
Vacations can prove costly, especially if you bring an entire family along.

A recent, global survey by GfK Custom Research found that the travel behavior of Americans more or less corresponds to that of the average world citizen. Vacationing Americans, though, are willing to spend more money than tourists from any other country.

Despite that, the U.S. still manages to be close to the average of all countries in terms of outlay, the 16-country survey found: 33% will be paying up to $1,236 per person, per year, on vacations; 15% will spend between $1,235 and $2,472; 18% are willing to spend more than $2,472.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spent more than $670 on vacation homes and hotels each year.

Yes, you work hard for your money and value time away from work and spending uninterrupted time with your family. But consider the underlying value proposition of a retirement plan -- compound interest.

If you, for example, were to put that $1,200 a year of vacation money into a retirement plan for 30 years (assuming a 5% average rate of return) you would amass more than $84,000 by the time you retired.

Again, this isn't to suggest you should abandon all future vacation plans. But it is enlightening to see how that once-a-year indulgence can add up.

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