Travelling vs Paying off Debt

I will turn 30 in the beginning of next year.  To me, this is the first big birthday anniversary which rightfully deserves a huge celebration. I have had relatively quiet birthday parties to celebrate turning 18, 21 and 25, but turning 30 has somehow carried a much greater significance. I mean, c’mon, I will finally become an adult, a grown up, and there will be no more excuses that I could easily use in my twenties to justify my occasional shenanigans sometimes childish behaviour.

I have been thinking long and hard about the type of celebration I want to have. Do I want to have a huge party and invite everyone I know to celebrate with me? Sure, that would be nice. Or perhaps I can organise a short weekend away to celebrate with family and closest friends? Yes, sounds like a plan. And then it hit me and I knew this was exactly the type of celebration that I had wanted to have all along. The Carnival in Rio! Since I was a child, going to the Rio Carnival has been one of my dreams and it would be amazing to finally make it happen.

When I decided to start budgeting and embarked on a long journey to pay off what I owed, I knew I had to make sacrifices and travelling would be one of them. I took my last trip in the end of June (when I went to Italy) and I am not planning any more trips this year, although, believe me when I say I have to regularly fight the urge to book a flight somewhere I have not been to yet! So, this is where I had to be practical and decide whether taking a trip to South America (Brazil and Argentina) was something I was supposed to be doing while paying down my debt.

On one hand, taking this trip will delay my planned date of becoming debt free by several months, unless of course I come up with an extra source of income or get a salary increase. On the other hand, if I take this trip I will make one of my dreams come true and gain a wealth of experience, meet new people along the way and create many wonderful memories. After weeks of thinking this over and over again, I decided I should do it! Yes, I know this is a luxury (and not a need!) and yes, I could have been less extravagant and opted for a cheaper holiday, but this is my 30th birthday and I have heard they do not come around often 😉 This trip will not be put on a credit card and will be paid for in cash. Needless to say, I will keep all expenses associated with this trip as low as I possibly can.

I would love to know your thoughts about travelling while in debt. Would you give it up completely or would you still go on vacation every now and then?

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14 comments

  1. I think every person is going to have a different tolerance level for this. Some people would never in a million year think about going while they were still in debt, and some have no problem delaying their debt. No one will or should tell you it’s wrong or it’s right. You have to decide what is right for you. Will going cause you more stress when you might have more interest added to your debt that you didn’t necessarily have to. Will you feel guilty? If that outweighs the enjoyment of the trip then don’t go, but if you know it will be an experience that will bring you loads of joy, then go.

    I think about this for taking a trip to Croatia next year. I don’t have debt, but I also don’t really have enough saved. Yes I do have an emergency fund but that doesn’t count. But it’s been SO LONG since I’ve taken an international trip. We’ll see…

    1. I’ve got a long way to go before my debt is paid off and I cannot imagine not being able to travel for over 2 years. Sure, I will no longer travel as much as I used to, but I will allow myself an occasional trip every now and again to keep my sanity 😉 while paying off my debt which is currently my #1 priority. The key is to get the balance right.

      I’ve never been to Croatia but it’s high on my to do list! Everyone deserves a break, so I’d say do it! Croatia is supposed to be beautiful.

  2. Well, before realizing that I need to payoff my student debt, I went on trips with my credit card and those trips themselves were amazing and I don’t regret it. But I’m over thirty now and just started to pay down my debt and that I do regret.
    Since you’re going to pay with cash and you already are watching what you’re doing financially, have fun and make sure you don’t go off track from here.

    1. I don’t think I’ve used a credit card to pay for my travel for a while now. Instead, I used to spend everything that was left of my salary on travel. I could have put this money towards debt instead but I chose not to. It has all changed since then. As to keeping track of my spending while on holiday, I did pretty well last time and tracked down every cent that got spent in Italy, I have even managed to stay within my budget, so I am more confident now.

  3. I can completely relate to this post because I am turning 30 in 2 weeks and J just told me yesterday that we are taking a mini-vacation down to Portland, Orgean and Seattle, Washington for 4 days, 3 nights for my birthdayw eekend 😀 As long as you don’t go into further debt and pay for the trip in cash, which is exactly what you plan on doing than I think vacationing while in debt is fine. You only have one life to live and travel 😀

    1. Birthday weekend in Portland and Seattle, you must be excited! 🙂 I am sure you will have an amazing time and have loads of fun! As to my trip, no, I will not go into more debt! I’m a changed person now, hehe! I agree you only have one life to live and travel!

  4. I recently took a small trip and we have pretty massive debt. It’s really all up to you– I don’t feel the least bit guilty about the money spent: I needed a break. I needed to experience something new. I needed to take care of my social & emotional well-being. If traveling feeds your soul, then you should be sure to continue to do so wisely, without going into more debt, and continuing to pay down your debts. Birthday or not.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I know what you mean when you say you needed to experience something new and take care of your emotional well-being. Somehow, I find travelling to be the perfect cure for this. I have to admit I feel a little guilty for going on such a big trip so soon into my debt repayment journey, but it will not last for long as I’m actually getting a bonus this month which will help me stay on track with my debt repayment in August. Hopefully, more extra income in the future and there is a chance my debt free date will stay the same! 🙂

  5. Life is short, so you definitely have to enjoy it! Sounds like a trip you will remember for a long time. One of the things I’ve realized since I started paying off my debt is that if you don’t include some fun stuff, you’ll lose your mind! I like the idea of trying to earn extra money to fund it, though, so you don’t have to worry about any financial repercussions. I spent the summer in Africa a couple years ago and paid for it by subletting my apartment. Because you’re in London, it would probably be pretty easy to do. Happy traveling! 🙂

    1. I agree, having given up so many things to pay off my debt, I think I deserve to reward myself once in a while. I won’t be doing this often, but I think one trip every year is pretty reasonable. It will probably motivate me even more to pay off my debt faster so I can start travelling like I used to sooner. Yes, I have been thinking about subletting my apartment in London while away! Also, I increased the rent for my apartment I sublet in my hometown (it was about time!) and my tenants accepted the increase yesterday! I am over the moon! Every little helps! 😉

  6. No judging from me! You are paying your debts and taking care of yourself. It will take me about 3 years to clean up my debts. There is no way I wouldn’t travel during that time. It’s not like you’re going crazy. You’re doing a once in a lifetime trip. Enjoy. Don’t go crazy! Have some fun.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for not judging! 🙂 This is definitely a once in a lifetime trip to celebrate a special occasion. I admire people who can give up everything while paying off their debts, but I have to do what works for me and clearly giving up something that is so important to me is not a realistic expectation to have. I am going to stick to one trip a year as I think it’s important to reward yourself for all the hard work.

  7. Personally I’m considering the idea of travelling with debt once I finish University at the end of April. The idea is to not add to that debt while travelling and to start to work once I get back from my travels and to start paying off my student loans and saving up. I doubt I will have the opportunity to have months at a time off in the future so I’m definitely going to make the most of it.

    1. I agree, as long as I don’t incur more debt (which I will not), pay for my trip in cash (which is exactly what I am going to do) and stay on track with my debt repayment (possibly bringing in extra income) then I don’t see why I cannot occasionally take a trip.

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