Would You Give Up Vacations Forever To Retire Earlier?

Vacations Or Retire EarlyVacations are awesome. I love spending some time out relaxing outside of my normal environment and my wife does too. We normally take at least one vacation a year, sometimes two just to enjoy our lives a little bit. I can’t imagine living our life without vacations, assuming we can afford them of course.¬†After all, we’d never take a vacation if we couldn’t pay for it in full in cash or credit card rewards.

I came across someone on Twitter recently that had a different opinion that I just couldn’t wrap my mind around. This person stated that you should never take a vacation because it’d delay your financial independence date. Instead, you should invest all of the money you would spend on your vacations so you can become financially independent sooner. My mind was blown. How can someone not see the benefit of vacations?!

Why I Feel Vacations Are Awesome And Much Needed

Vacations are a huge benefit to us. They allow us to recharge our mental batteries which is a necessity after many months without any extra days off. They allow us time to forget about the day to day worries of life and just relax. We could probably find a way to do the same thing at home, but it wouldn’t be the same. Why?

Vacations allow us to go out and explore new areas and broaden our life experiences. We have already explored most of the parts we’re interested in exploring in our local town, so we wouldn’t be adding much to our experience list by hanging out here. Vacations also allow us to not have to worry about the daily responsibilities we have to take care of at home. Unfortunately, all of that awesomeness comes with a price.

Why I Could See The Other Person’s Point

For some people, their jobs are shackles that are so powerful that they’ll do anything to escape them. Rather than take just a temporary escape (a vacation) that pushes back your permanent escape even further, why not just stay home forever and never vacation in order to retire earlier? Chances are vacations cost more than a typical week at home, so you’d be delaying your retirement for much more than the week or two you’re off exploring the world.

Of course, vacations aren’t the only frivolous spending in a budget. If you really want to retire as early as possible, you can cut out many other expenses in your life and live a bare minimal lifestyle. But would it be any fun? For some people it may be, but for others, I think there is a good compromise you can come to in order to both retire earlier and still take vacations.

A Nice Compromise

Rather than spending thousands and going all out for your vacations one or multiple times per year, you can compromise a bit and still enjoy the benefits of vacations for a lower cost. Instead of going out of town, you can plan a staycation in your town. Instead of going to an exotic location and staying in a hotel, rent a room on AirBnB or VRBO.com. Better yet, go camping and enjoy nature and disconnect from the conveniences of modern life for just a few bucks a night!

As you can see, I don’t think you need to forgo vacations completely to retire earlier. There are many cheaper options that will give you close to, if not exactly the same benefit that a ritzy expensive vacation would.

So, what do you think? Do you think vacations are necessary or a complete waste of money? Or, do you take the compromise route and still take vacations but just at a cheaper rate? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo by: paul bica Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. For me, I wouldn’t give up my vacations forever to have an early retirement. We need to unwind and have a vacation for us to have a balance life. We need to have a break for a while and release our stress from work.

  2. I agree with you and disagree with him. Retirement is a vacation. So the question to me is: would I rather take a vacation when I’m 28 and am in great physical shape to hike, explore, swim, etc. or would I rather wait to enjoy that time or place when I’m in worse physical health. Seems like an obvious choice. I would much rather delay retirement than delay life.

  3. Absolutely not. I don’t subscribe to the thought process of “live like nobody else today, so I can live like nobody else tomorrow” that Ramsey loves to promote. I will not live on bread, water, and live in a cardboard box so my retirement can be fantastic. What if I die at the age of 48 and never get to retirement? EVERY year on this Earth should be savored and enjoyed. Of course, there are limits, and you should balance things so that you can enjoy life now AND later – but restricting yourself for 40 years just so you can have it good when you’re older…..no thanks!

    • Travis… you don’t want to live in the awesome cardboard? That’s disappointing :) Just kidding! I hope you guys get to take a vacation soon after your big debt pay off!

  4. I don’t know about the forever part but I would definitely give up some of the perks just to retire early

  5. I could never skip vacations just so I could retire early. What is something happened to me? I would have never experienced anything but my job and investing. I can live frugally across all aspects of my life (even travel) but to skip it all together just seems extreme. I mean I’m sure if you forego your house/apt and camp outside and invest all that money you could retire early too- but being too extreme just doesn’t make sense to me. Ok rant over :-)

    • I think skipping it is extreme while travelling frugally would be a better option. Still, you can retire earlier while still taking responsible vacations.

  6. I love my holidays and could not go without them just so I could maybe retire a little earlier. If you stop doing things you love just so you can put more money into your investments, the fun would quickly go out of life. I would much rather have a nice balance, money for investments and money for fun.

  7. I agree with you. Vacations should not be given up for the sake of saving money. Instead be smart and roadtrip, find deals, and travel frugally. Budget travelers avoid the all-inclusive luxury resort and tend to get a vacation with more culture and local flavor while saving money.

  8. My sister is very anti-travel, anti-vacation so she would agree with your Twitter friend. I, on the other hand, believe that there is more to life than retiring so I do not fall in that logic at all! As Travis mentioned, you cannot plan accurately for tomorrow, so you might as well try to live today.

  9. I haven’t actually been on a proper vacation in quite some time, but no, I would not give up vacations to retire early. There needs to be a balance between planning for the future and living for today. Yeah, I could go extreme and retire early, but my kids are only little once and I want them to experience life now! That’s why we do spend money on things that aren’t strictly “needs”, we don’t eat beans and rice every day, etc. I could bust my butt to retire early and then die the next day. There are no guarantees in life.

  10. I’m crazy about travel, and it’s truly a passion for me, so I would not give up vacations. In fact, I just wrote about my love for travel today! There’s no guarantee that you’ll be healthy enough to enjoy retirement, and really, there’s no guarantee that you’ll even live to see that day. Sad, but true.

  11. No way, I think you set a plan that gives you the opportunity for both enjoyment now and later. I’m not saying live entirely for the moment, but don’t live always for tomorrow, because there aren’t any guarantees what tomorrow will bring.

  12. Heck No! Not worth the delayed gratification… For most people Financial Independence is a long haul (sure there are a few that have proven otherwise, but they’re not the norm), and I can’t imagine waiting to live my life. Maybe if I was three years out from my projected FI date, and it was time to majorly hustle to reach the finish line… but I’m 28, and I have $1,500 in my retirement savings… I don’t think I’ll be independent any time soon ;)

  13. I don’t think I could give up vacations long-term just to retire early. We have given them up temporarily to pay off our debt and it is probably the hardest part of the plan. We all need time to unwind and many times it is difficult to do that when you are at home. I think you can cut back on your vacations or search for good deals and still hit your retirement goals. I don’t think it needs to be an either/or situation.

  14. For the most part, we did. While working we took very few vacations that involved travel. Two or three times we piggy-backed on my husbands business travel. We paid for our airfare but his was paid by the company. The hotel and his food was paid for so we stayed in the hotel with him for free and paid for our own food. Of course, activities were paid for by us. We were able to retire at age 55 and 53 so I don’t know if you consider that early. I would do it all over again. Being on a permanent vacation is much nicer than being on a one or two week trip and having to go back to work when we return home.

    • It sounds like you were still able to get out a bit though. I couldn’t imagine not travelling at all, ever until I retire. I like experiencing new things :)

  15. I gave up my vacation this year to save for some projects around the house and to pay off debt sooner but I dont think I would do it forever. Everyone needs a break and like you said it does not need to be expensive.

  16. I would not skip vacations. Life is to short and you are never guaranteed to make it until you retire. We choose to live in a smaller house and still save for retirement. Many of our friends are working to just pay bills and we choose to enjoy life.

  17. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I would not give up vacations now for an earlier retirement. We want to be able to share vacation time every year with our son, as he grows. He is 13 now. It won’t be long before he is off to college. It would take a LOT of money to get us to miss vacations with our son while he is growing up.

  18. I believe in living life not delaying life until you’re unable to move due to older age and ailments. Vacations are important and us Americans do not have proper vacations to help us reboot. We just work, spend, work, spend and complain we don’t have the money for vacations.

  19. Coming late to the game here.

    It really kind of depends. I think everyone needs vacations to “recharge”. But it depends on how you define a vacation. We all need time to recharge. It seems silly to me to spend MORE money recharging than you actually make at work in a week. (So, you’d earn $1000 from a week of work, but you spend $2000 on a vacation. Wouldn’t it be better to just work less and spend less?)

    But recharging doesn’t have to be expensive. The important thing is to unplug and take off work. It can be puttering around the house for a week, going camping for a few nights.

    I’m not against expensive vacations. I’ve had my share of trips to Hawaii. However, as I’ve gotten older and had children, my perspective has changed. Traveling with a one or two year old (or 3-4 year old) is HARD WORK. Nothing is child-proofed and you have to be totally ON. While I did travel to Hawaii with my older son, we outnumbered him. Now we have two children, and I cannot imagine spending $5000-6000 for a week in Hawaii, when it is so stressful getting there, chasing a toddler, etc.

    The best vacation I had recently was simply taking a long weekend over Thanksgiving and… going nowhere. Literally nowhere. It was so relaxing! Our house is child proofed! A decent second was camping, but there is still a lot of preparation and packing for camping, plus chasing around a toddler in Joshua Tree is still a lot of work. I find that I am using all of my days off (I get 34 days off a year), for sick time, sick kids, doctor’s appointments, school holidays. What’s left goes to mental health days or staycations. (We do take 2 weeks off every other year to visit family on the opposite coast.)

    I try and put myself in a place where I don’t NEED to take a week off and travel somewhere exotic to “get away”. I get the benefit of the recharge without the price. On the flip side, I do LOVE to travel and see new places. I see that “hobby” as somewhat separate from the vacation “need”. Right now, I don’t want to spend my money on that hobby (mostly due to the age of my younger son), but I can see where other people might.

    • Wow sounds like you’ve given this lots of thought. I think people can learn a lot from what you’ve said, especially about vacationing with small kids. We should take advantage of our kidless years and try to get some bigger trips we want to do done. I do wish I had 34 days off a year though. I only get 16 that I can choose when I take.

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