Survey: Majority of workforce overspends on vacation

People walk along the sidewalks of downtown St. Joseph looking through business windows. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

People walk along the sidewalks of downtown St. Joseph looking through business windows. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

The weather has gotten warmer in Michigan, which means more workers vacationing.

However, a new survey shows these vacations can be costly as most tend to overspend during their time away from home. According to a survey by Experian, a global information services company, 68 percent of people overspend when on vacation.

Jill Stone, executive director for St. Joseph Today, said the best way to overcome this issue on vacation can be to research prices months in advance.

While it’s hard to decide on what to do during one’s vacation, Stone said the easiest thing to take care of is lodging. By making hotel reservations or calling ahead to campgrounds and small bed and breakfasts, Stone said more money from a family’s budget can be used for other activities.

“It depends on the buyer,” Stone said. “Some people look for where they are going to be the most comfortable. If that’s the case, lodging will be the biggest part of the budget.”

Vacationers could also work in free activities to accommodate the extra expenses, Stone said.

“We’ve noticed the experience spending tends to be on the higher end,” she said. “Scooter Joe’s rents bikes and tends to do very well in the season regardless of the weather. When you’re planning your trip, look at not only what you want to do, but what you could end up doing. Research and planning is going to be key when keeping to a budget.”

Age matters

Spending more than budgeted is a big issue for millennials – people born, roughly, between 1980 and 2000.

Forty percent of people who took the survey – and 52 percent of young people – have accumulated credit card debt while on vacation, while 46 percent of people have used their credit cards to pay for vacation even though they don’t have enough money saved to cover it.

About 86 percent of people plan to pay for summer vacations, though 35 percent don’t save for it.

Bob and Betsy Taylor began their vacation Monday by driving through downtown St. Joseph for a view of Lake Michigan.

The Indiana residents came to Michigan with their daughters, son and son-in-law, and brought with them a large cooler of food.

“This is our first vacation ever as a family,” Betsy said. “We don’t want to spend lots of money, but we will do some fun things.”

Bob said the family started planning in February and anticipate lodging to be more costly than gas and food.

“We rented a cabin and will stay there,” he said. “It’s a set price so we knew what to plan for.”

Expensive trends

Some people don’t even make it to their vacation, as 37 percent surveyed have had to cancel their travel plans because of budgetary concerns, including 44 percent of millennials.

“People want to come home from vacation with happy memories, not with unanticipated and unmanageable credit card bills,” said Guy Abramo, president of Experian Consumer Services, in a written statement. “Racking up excessive credit card debt without a plan to pay it off can put people, especially millennials, in a bind that could affect their financial health and credit status for years to come.”

Abramo said to consider a “staycation” every other year. Staying nearby enables people to save on airfare, hotels and food, Abramo said.

Stone said staycations are the norm in St. Joseph because of the beaches and the wineries.

Other survey results on spending habits were not as flattering for the younger generation.

The poll found 33 percent of people – and 50 percent of millennials – use their tax refunds to pay for their summer travel.

Millennials planned on charging an average of $1,187 on their credit cards for summer vacations, versus $1,308 for people of all ages. Vacationers are also expected to use their credit cards much more than debit cards and cash to pay for lodging, entertainment, airfare, food and beverages.

Experian’s online survey of 1,000 adults living in the United States was conducted May 5-11.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 7, 2015)

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