The short answer to this question is: Yes. You can travel with debt.
Perhaps the correct question should be: “Should you travel with debt?” I’m not a big finance person, but I do have personal experience with this since I have debt, but still make it a priority to travel. I thought the easiest way to break this down is to divide this question into two categories: the Yes and the No.
Because I like to end all of my blog posts on a positive note, let’s start with the “No.”
Reasons you shouldn’t travel with debt:
1. You plan to use more debt to fund your trip. Ok, wait a minute. So you already have enough debt where you’re concerned about even taking the trip, but then you’re going to put that trip on your credit card? Let me stop you right there. This is a BAD idea. Trust me, I’ve done this before when I was younger and dumber. Unless there is some urgent reason that you have to take this trip before you have enough cash saved up, then postpone it. It’s always better to save up and pay off your trip completely than to come back and have to make payments on it. With the interest adding up, it’s going to end up costing you more in the long run.
2. You’re not up-to-date on your payments. I get it. Life happens sometimes and you fall behind on a few payments. It happens to the best of us. However, this is when we have to listen to that adult voice in our head. (Even if it might sound like your parents.) The thing is, those late payments aren’t going to go away just because you go on a trip. They’ll be waiting for you right when you get back and sometimes that can cause an even deeper degree of “post-vacation blues.” You can get caught up. It will just take a little more time.
3. You have a spending problem or don’t know how to budget. Look, I’m not here to judge anyone. I know we all have our issues. However, it is important to understand why you have the debt in the first place. Maybe you’re still paying for a careless decision from years ago (I say this while looking in the mirror), but maybe it’s something deeper. Is it a temptation for you to go shopping as soon as money comes in? I’m not trying to be a psychologist, but understanding the root of your debt will help you realize whether you’ll be able to control your spending while you’re on vacation.
Ok, blah, I hate being a Debbie Downer. Let’s talk about the “Yes.” (Woohoo!)
Reasons you should travel with debt:
1. You’ve saved enough to book your trip with cash. Good job! Saving is harder than people think. By saving specifically for this trip, you’re making it a reality and a priority. You also understand that saving for this trip might slow down your repayment process for a little while, but it’s not a total setback and it’s temporary. (By this I mean the amount you put towards your payments each month, not skipping payments.) Also, having your trip paid in full is such a great feeling and will help you relax so much more while you’re there! I get that there are certain credit cards that give you points and miles that you can put towards your next trip, but if credit cards are a problem for you, cash is definitely the way to go.
2. Your payments are up-to-date. Making all of your payments on time is not only good for your credit, but also gives you room to save up and maybe pay a little less on your monthly payments in the meantime. Saving up is a lot harder when you’re already behind on payments. Plus, you know that it’s not going to be a problem when you get back from your trip, because you haven’t added any more debt to it.
3. You’ve done your research. There are ways to save on a trip and still have tons of fun! You’ve made sure to dig deep and compare prices and find different accommodations that are still nice and in the budget. Google is a great tool when booking a trip. Yes it will take a little more effort, but it will be so worth it. (How did our parents do this before the internet???)
So there you go. Make the assessment yourself. Only you know your current situation. I am all for traveling with debt if you do it the right way (see “should” column.) I don’t want to look back at my life and see that I was waiting for the “right time” and never made it. Maybe you are in the “shouldn’t” category and that’s ok. Just know that there are ways to move into the “should,” but it depends on how bad you want it. It will take hard work, but it’s definitely possible.
Do any of you travel while having debt? I’d love to hear your stories below!