Travel debt

Oct 7th, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Travel debt

After reading about people going on trips while they have outstanding debts, say, credit card debt, I wonder how they can justify increasing debt? Wouldn't it make more sense to pay off all debt, then travel, or it this more self gratification? I am not saying it is right or not, just trying to understand.
rogerdodger is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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My reaction to reading about traveling while having outstanding debt was to feel guilty about my very small mortgage payment and reasonable car paymnet (together they don't equal most mortgage or rent payments).

Maybe we shouldn't go at all until we don't have a mortgage, no car payment (which has happened through most but not all of our adult lives). But then I just don't know. I guess I would not go if I had cc debt, or other debt.

I'm curious if others with mortgage/rent payments and a car payment travel. We bought a two year old car, put down a large amount and financed the remaining. It is a very average, smallish car, with high performance and safety ratings. Am I just justifying travel while I'm paying for a car?

Anyone else want to comment?
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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I don't believe in owing money with an exception made, perhaps, for a house and college (as Christina recently said on another thread.) I love nothing more than travel, but I make a modest income. So to pay for it, I live in a small condo, drive an economy car, and shop at discount stores (it helps that I'm childless). And although my trips are becoming increasingly luxurious, I have stayed in some dives and and survived on street food on many trips.

I can't enjoy myself knowing that I am spending money I don't have.
Cimbrone is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 07:55 AM
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Debt is not in my dictionary. We do have friends who take money out for travel - I cannot imagine. We have never owed money for vehicles or anything but of course on houses. That is the only thing I personally would be in debt on. We do not use credit cards except for booking things where we need a number.

One thing that bothers me more than almost anything is living beyond peoples' means. For example, we heard of a poor family we hadn't met so took over groceries anonymously, feeling for them. Well, immediately after that we heard that these people somehow purchased a 5th wheel and are now in the process of building a 4,000 square foot house! No longer feel sorry for them. I know how much they make - one makes minimum wage and the other an average wage. And they will be in debt until the day they die. And not just a little debt, either.

While in university I was dirt poor. Did dirt poor things, bought dirt poor food, had a dirt poor apartment, walked 38 blocks to university (was in great shape!), just because I refused to do it any other way. Like many others, I'm sure, I worked two jobs while in university to avoid student loans.

I personally would not feel right about taking out loans to travel but that is my opinion. My husband is a Chartered Accountant so our minds think alike!!
travel2live is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:03 AM
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rogerdodger, I know of one instance in which a close friend (a woman) went through a divorce and took a month off that she really couldn't afford but came back with a new perspective and got it all back together very quickly.

But that is rare. More often, people do it for other sorts of reasons. Sometimes it is because some people have an insatiable desire to appear cool; or because they constantly crave attention and one way of getting it by talking about things others don't do on an everyday basis; or because they don't understand the basics of financial discipline or planning. It is for the same reasons as why some people drive cars that are more than their annual salary (I am referring to instances where they don't have trust funds)! May be something to do with parents not hugging them enough times? I don't know.

Frankly, it is really kind of sad specially when you are close to someone who is otherwise sweet and gentle but with an incessant desire to impress you, and you really want to gently shake it out of'em! One can be cool (heck, ice-cold) without the constant need to always live in the moment by consuming one's future.
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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I don't think I can enjoy my vacation if I had a lot of bills to pay. I didn't travel until I was 28 because I was saving money to buy a house.
My husband is the same way, no traveling or extras if there are bills to pay.

Like the OP I am not saying my way is the right way, it just works for me, then I can justify ordering that lobster for dinner or buying that beautiful purse and 4" high heels.
cafegoddess is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:22 AM
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We have credit card debt and we still travel. We don't increase our debt to travel though - we have a travel savings account that we put money into throughout the year.

Our credit card debt is not outrageous and we have a very low interest rate. Most of it was incurred fixing up our house, which we plan to sell in a couple years, using the equity to pay off the debt and as a downpayment on the next house. In the mean time we pay down the debt each month.

To some, this may not seem prudent, esspecially to those who are esspecially debt adverse. It works for us though, and I am not about to let life pass me by because our finances are not absolutely perfect.
J_Correa is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Few can ever go without debt at least not when they want to go, the memories and pleasure from travel after a year's worth of work, far outways the debt. Why wait until retirement, and even then who knows if a person will be able to go - I adjust my staying & eating to a reasonable budget. Also, there's plenty of free sights and things new in another country without going hay-wire.
virgi is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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I have no debts and am one of the unpleasant people who talked about not traveling when in debt on the other recent thread.

However, being in debt and being behind and/or unable to make your debt payments are two different things. If you are still diligently paying off your debts, you should be totally free to do whatever you want with the rest of your money (or credit).

I have been too reasonable all my life and missed out on those exceptional occasions when one can pursue a passion or live a dream. I have always admired people who have told me why they dropped everything and went halfway around the world without a second thought.

But I make a distinction between falling in love and needing to immediately go to Buenos Aires or the Maldives to seal the deal, or a lingering and constant desire to see Rome or Paris, which will still be there next year, in 5 years, in 10 years or even later.

kerouac is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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I think if you do not have much invested and/or your net worth is very small and on top of that you have debt, travel is probably something you should think twice about.

HOWEVER , when you have lots of wise investments and your net worth is very high, but you some some reasonable debt and have a good solid plan for paying it down ( much more than just minimum payments on credit cards), I would not put off travel. Life is just too short for that.

But with that said all of the vacations are paid in cash.

We are in the camp of always paying yourself first; this is why we have alot of very wise investments and high net worth.( we also do happen to make alot of money as well) I know alot people pay off all the their debt; a good idea, yes indeed, but still have very little to show for it.

In the long run, plan to have enough money so you don't outlive it.
The small amount of debt we owe ( mostly houses and 1 car and some cc debt) is peanuts compared to the amount we have saved and invested and our total net worth. That's why we travel so much.
tripgirl is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:48 AM
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I went on my last trip though I had about $2000 in credit card debt. I charged the whole darned thing, and I now owe $5000. I wish I'd had enough self-control to pay off my debt before I traveled again, but I'm still glad I went.

I just transferred that balance to a card with a $75 transaction fee and a 1.9% interest rate, so interest rates aren't going to break me. I'll have it paid off within a few months anyway.

I don't have other debts than my mortgage, though I do have expenses that are as unavoidable as debt--insurance, utilities, etc. So I don't feel guilty about traveling while still owing money.

I am creeping up relentlessly on 72 years of age. Time is getting away from me. In a little over three years I will no longer be able to rent a car in Europe. I'm in good health and pretty good shape now, but who knows what lies in store for me, ready to spring out and bite.

The other problem is that having a debt makes me reasonable about how I spend money. When I have no debt, I get carried away, and I tend to spend too much on the house and the yard, and I get OVERLY generous about giving money away.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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There are worse things to be in debt over but I don't like paying interest.
So, no debt for us but I think it could be worse. Imagine owing money on clothes you no longer wear or are out of style, or Christmas gifts you gave people that they sold at their last garage sale.
At least with travel you have good memories.
L84SKY is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:07 AM
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I have a completely cavalier attitude about travel debt. I do what I want and then figure out how to pay for it and erase any debt I might incur in the short run. But I'm not on a fixed salary and have almost limitless opportunities to earn extra money if I want to and am willing to work very hard, which I am. The down side to that, of course, is that I very rarely get to do an all-out "vacation," where I'm unplugged from my work and obligations. Suits me fine, though. I'm also not extravagant and don't need fancy hotels or Michelin meals, except for the very occasional splurge.
StCirq is online now  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Travel is a privilege and a luxury. I pay cash. I have no debt. In order to go more often, I've been known to stay in hostels and eat picnics. I've also had a few luxurious experiences but mostly they are the frugal kind and it makes for a wonderful trip.

While putting children through college and paying off a mortgage I didn't travel much or far. I'm making up for that now. I also pay cash for cars so no SUV's or luxury vehicles either.
Barbara_in_CT is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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I can happily say that I've never paid a penny in interest charges on credit cards, but if I did, I guess I don't see any real difference in adding a worthwhile trip to that debt any more than buying clothes, Christmas presents, a new computer, going out to dinner, or about a thousand other things. I agree that the travel memories will last a lot longer than must "stuff" you can put on a credit card.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:52 AM
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Ditto St. Cirq!
MelJ is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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We've always traveled, even when we were younger and probably could have used the money for more practical purposes. One thing we have never done, though, was to go into debt for our trips. We saved throughout the year for our travels, and did not stay in high end areas until later in life. Even now, we try to be as economical as we can - i.e. renting apartments rather than expensive hotels, eating in much of the time, searching for the best fares, etc. We can take a month-long trip for the same cost that many people pay for a week.

Other than our mortgage, I refuse to pay interest on anything.
scdreamer is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Personally, I do have debts and as long as I can pay them, I will not stop traveling. What will stop me traveling is age and poor health and since time flies by so fast and poor health could surprise you at any moment...I will travel while I'm healthy and capable, then I'll worry aobut paying off my debts.

Too many people put things off until the "right time" and the right time may or may never come.

Somehow when I'm older and unable to travel, I'd rather have the memory of "when I was in Venice drinking a cappucino..." vs "when I had no debts and stayed at home stifling my traveling desires bored to death".
lyb is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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It realize it is not wise economics, but travel is one thing I will carry a small amount of debt from.

suze is online now  
Oct 7th, 2007, 11:45 AM
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Of course 'debt' can mean different things to different people, ranging from putting clothes on the children and feeding them, or paying for that giant flat screen TV and new car. I suspect that most indebted Fodorites are in the second category.
kerouac is offline  

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