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How to Take a Guilt-Free Vacation

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With all the ice and snow, you might be envisioning yourself on a beach somewhere – listening to the surf and drinking a iced tea. But that doesn't mean your pocket book is envisioning the same thing. Chances are, you've got holiday debt to pay off, bills to pay and something more important to save for.



Even though opting out of a vacation altogether may seem like a smart idea in dollars and cents, you might be costing yourself in other ways. According to a study in the journal Society and Mental Health, people return from vacation more content and relaxed than before they left. The number of prescription antidepressants study participants took also declined among those with more vacation days.

The authors of the study, which looked at prescription antidepressant use among a segment of the Swedish population between 1993 and 2005, call the charge people get from vacation “collective restoration.” Simply put, those who have time to get away come back with more energy, health and vigor than they had before they left.

Still, all those reasons aside, your bank account may not cooperate. If you still need a break, consider planning a guilt-free budget vacation instead. Here’s how:

Create a Targeted Savings Account for Vacation

Maybe it’s too late to raise the funds for a vacation this year, but you could be in a much better spot next year if you start now. If you want a truly guilt-free vacation, you need a pot of money to spend that isn’t earmarked for anything else. In other words, a vacation fund. Research high interest savings accounts, and open a new account with whichever online or brick-and-mortar bank has the best offer. Then contribute weekly, monthly or on every payday until your vacation fund is complete. Just make sure not to spend it on anything else!

Swap Homes with Someone

If you live in a touristy area or near a big city, you can always swap homes with another traveler through a site like HomeExchange.com. The process works like this: You create an account and browse properties until you find one you might want to visit. Then you simply contact the property owner and try to work out a deal that is mutually beneficial. He or she stays at your place while you stay at his or her place.  Everyone wins and both parties get their desired change of scenery. And the best part? Your stay will be free.

Visit Family or Friends

You likely have a family member or friend who lives somewhere cooler than you do. If you’re itching to get away on a budget, it might just be time to see grandma or your college roommate. Call them up and ask if they’re in the mood for a visit. In exchange for putting you up, offer to take them out to lunch or dinner, or spend time with them during your visit. They might be in the mood for company, whether they know it or not. You’ll never know unless you ask.

Explore Credit Card Rewards

Some of the best rewards credit cards offer free hotel stays and airline miles to customers who meet certain requirements. Typically, those requirements include meeting a minimum spending limit within a set amount of time. If you’re able to put your regular spending on a card or two and pay the bill in full and on time, you could easily score all the travel your heart desires – and sometimes with zero out-of-pocket expense. However, this is only a good option for people who have good credit and the discipline to pay their credit card off in time. Remember, paying interest is never rewarding.

Taking any of these steps (or all of them) could put you one step closer to the guilt-free vacation of your dreams. So don’t let your financial situation ruin your plans for a quick and easy trip; make plans to turn your beach lounging thoughts into a reality.

via USnews
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