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Staying local for a cheap vacation

Here’s a term I find annoying – staycation.

It’s not a difficult idea to understand. Rather than go away for your vacation, you stay. 

But it’s also becoming a reality for me and the time I booked off work at the end of the month. 

It’s not so much that I can’t afford to go somewhere and rack up a bunch of debt. 

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was planning a trip to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. 

Ah, the fjords, the scenery, the rugged beauty ... and the cost of getting there.

The plan was to rent a car, take the 12-hour ferry from North Sydney to Port Aux Basques and then drive to Gros Morne. 

I priced a car rental with one company and I was looking at more than $300. When you add gas, the ferry (around $200 one way), odds and ends when I get there (like a boat tour) and accommodations, I’m guessing the cost is around $1,500.

I can do it, but I don’t want to rack up a credit card debt that’s going to take me a while to pay off. 

Joe White, financial advisor with White & Associates Financial Services Inc. in Charlottetown, has some advice that makes me feel better about my decision to be cheap, or rather financially responsible – if you can’t afford to save for your vacation, you can’t afford to pay it off later.

White points out that there are several savings calculators online that can help you understand what you need to do to save for a vacation.

Let’s say we want to save for a family trip to Disney World with a $10,000 price tag. 

If we save $210 a month for four years, we will have $10,080 for the trip. But White explains that if we put that amount on a credit card, with payments of $210 a month at 19 per cent interest, we’re looking at paying off that debt in eight years and two months. Plus, with interest, we’re actually paying off $20,432. 

A line of credit at eight-per-cent interest lowers the payback time to four years and 11 months at $210 a month. With interest, the total runs up to $12,188.85.

Now, you may be able to do the trip with your family for much less than $10,000. Even so, the example helps illustrate the trouble you can run into paying for a trip you can’t afford.

And, of course, as already mentioned, my trip to Newfoundland would only cost about $1,500. 

I can pay it off, but I choose to be cheap. 

But maybe this is also a good opportunity to roam around the Maritimes and knock off a few other items on my bucket list, another term I find annoying.

Mount Carleton Provincial Park in New Brunswick has been on the list for a while. From Moncton, it’s still a lengthy drive – a little more than four hours. 

Mount Carleton is the highest point in the Maritimes at 820 metres (2,690 feet) with spectacular views. It’s a full-day hike and not overly difficult.  

Also on the list is a road trip to balancing rock near Digby, N.S. 

Another long jaunt probably requiring a stop in Halifax to visit friends on the way. But still, a cool piece of Maritime geography that I’ve always wanted to visit but never had the time. 

So, not the original plan. 

But then again, Gros Morne isn’t going anywhere. 

There’s always next summer. And, by then, I’ll have more saved that will reduce the impact on my credit card.  

terrence.mceachern@theguardian.pe.ca

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