Reading about my student loan debt reaching almost $100K may have blown your mind. If it didn’t, learning that I just went to Virginia Beach only 9 days after committing to becoming debt free in 3.5 years might. (Remember, my goal is to be debt free by January 1, 2020!)
Truth is, this trip was in the works for a month before I made my debt-annihilating commitment. In April, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This was the culmination of the hardest four years of my life. When I started college, the thought of dealing with money or taking my next exam would throw me into a panic attack. (I’m not even kidding…I even started seeing a counselor at school for my anxiety. But, that’s a story for another day…)
College wasn’t all bad though. I grew a lot in those four years, and in the process I found my calling in life and fell utterly in love with it.
As a reward for all of this hard work (and B’s as well, although he graduated 18 months before me), we desperately wanted to check out of reality for a few days and relax. We tried to make plans over Memorial Day weekend, but weren’t able to cement anything (and I was waiting to see if I could pick up hours at work for time-and-a-half anyway). So when I accidentally forgot to schedule myself for a stretch of days in a row in July (keep in mind, casual nursing assistants have a little more flexibility in scheduling at my hospital), and B’s boss told him to use vacation days or lose them, we got down to business. Virginia isn’t terribly far from our hometown and was relatively cheap for a 5 day stay.
That being said, we picked a slightly pricier hotel that was right on the beach! We were even able to get a discount as we are both AAA members–the AAA website can help you find great deals for trips that you may not find on the typical travel websites online. I was really excited to find our hotel because it had its own private beach and was only a hotel-shuttle distance away from the boardwalk nightlife. Just a short drive away were even more restaurants, museums, and shops…this hotel was perfect for us.
My boyfriend, who has been with his company since shortly after his graduation, has more than enough money to cover the whole vacation. Even if he had offered to pay for it all, I would have refused. I try to keep our expenses relatively even, even though he snakes the bill from me most of the time to pay. This vacation was no different.
He charged the hotel to his debit card and agreed to let me pay him $500 after we returned. Our hotel (before taxes) was $950, or $475 for my half. The extra $25 would be my contribution to gas (which covered our gas the whole way down!). We mostly split food costs, but he agreed to take over once I reached a $100 limit on food; this way, I could keep as close to my original $600 budget as possible.
When I say original, I mean the budget I set before I got an extra $41.50. I sold some really old books and DVDs to Half Price Books for $21.50 the day before we left, and my older sister gave me $20 to buy myself something with.
I decided to treat myself and that if anything was left over after, I would use it to pay down one loan’s interest before it capitalizes in October.
All in all I think that having a vacation now was the best think for me mentally and physically. After giving my all for four years, I needed time to reboot before my “big girl” job starts on July 25th. (Eek! One week away!)
I will post my vacation budget and the results within the next few days. In the meantime, does anyone else try to budget for vacations or trips? How well does it work for you, and do you have any tips?