Why is Vacation Money Different?

How is it that we live the frugal life at home, clipping coupons and ordering from the value menu, and then we get to our vacation destination and all that thrift is out the window? Sure, there’s the heady rush from buying like you never would otherwise, but isn’t that followed by a summer version of post-Christmas regret?

Even with a budget it is difficult to accept the convenience costs and location inflation that goes with typical vacation spots. Do you also cringe when you think about:

* Spending $4 for a single bottle of water or soda when at home you would buy a case for that amount?

* Paying the price printed ON THE BAG for potato chips?

* A sudden headache forcing you to buy aceteminophen at $1.20 per pill from the hotel gift shop?And it’s not even extra strength comfort coated!

* A poolside umbrella drink that costs as much as a three-course meal at home. And you have a souvenier drink cup to keep (oh joy, another plastic logo cup that will melt in the dishwasher).

I use all sorts of tricks to minimize vacation expense and maximize value, but I have to admit a certain level of defeat. I long ago concluded that resorts, amusement parks, and some entire towns are like giant casinos that follow one rule: The house always wins.

The best you can do is pack carefully, anticipate, and budget generously. Then live the rest of the year buying in bulk and submitting rebates, remembering that it’s part of the price you pay for vacations.