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What % of your gross annual income do you spend on vacations?

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  • #31
    Exactly it's totally incompatible with the path we've chosen, but squeezing a gazillion dollar trip into a tiny window feels like a square peg in a round hole, not really the right solution for the problem. It's super resource intensive, very American. Are we truly happier as a result? "The way we see the problem, is the problem." Steven Covey

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    • #32
      Originally posted by FIREshrink View Post
      These responses make me happy and sad at the same time. I'm glad folks see travel/experiences as worth spending money on; but it seems very American to need to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to see the world.

      I've talked with a lot of Europeans the last year or two and they have such a different worldview and a completely different approach to travel. Granted most of them have been younger, still in their 20s-40s and without kids. But they travel very light. Travel is not a twenty thousand dollar seven day whirlwind plugged into their hectic busy lives; travel is a six month journey to Indonesia and Thailand during which they might do a little remote work to make ends meet - or not. They spend a year in Australia following the harvest, taking large blocks of time off to surf or hike. They spend wine harvest in Bordeaux helping their parents out for a couple months before heading back to Japan for four months to see friends, practice their Japanese, and learn Japanese drumming. One guy followed his girlfriend to Brazil where he learned jiujitsu and Portuguese - he stayed for a year. He did end up working some during that time but now wants to move to the US to experience six months in a college town with a big football team (I suggested a Big Ten town - other ideas?). One woman moved to New York and works about 40 hours a week - but goes to Mexico twice a year for about two months each time where she stays with friends and surfs and rides her bike and gets some sun.

      None of this travel involves business class airfare or first class hotels or tourist guides or three star restaurants. There are camper vans, train trips, adventures with cabbies, strange foods, escapades with government officials. But they are really traveling, really experiencing other cultures, and truly enriching their lives. They're relaxed and happy and the glow lasts much longer than the duration of their latest ten thousand dollar seven day trip to Disneyland or Aruba.

      Obviously the demands of our high dollar jobs get in the way of this for most of our careers. I'm not sure it's worth it in terms of stress, longevity, and true happiness, but we've made our beds, taken out our student loans, bought our seven figure houses and six figure cars and so on, it takes a brave soul to really shift course midstream. But these friendships have really opened my eyes that a lot of the world doesn't live like we do in America - and that we've sacrificed an awful lot to have 4000 square foot houses and two Teslas and a boat in the three car garage. As soon as our youngest is off to college it's hasta la vista to anything that keeps me from long slow travel. And it might be sooner than that.
      We did the backpacking thing when we were young. Slow travel through Asia, sleeping in dark, dingy hotels, laughing a lot, meeting all kinds of unusual characters, struggling to find the cheapest, decent place to sleep. Negotiating for a bed in a foreign language. Sailing on a blue water sailboat to some exotic locales at a cost of a few dollars a day. Riding a bicycle with panniers up the east coast, sleeping some nights in the woods, under a tarp.

      In the middle years, we spent a more significant amount, but from the current vantage point I would consider it still relatively modest sums, on family travel, hiking, camping, rafting out west. And then perhaps more for visiting Hawaii, Disney, etc.

      Now we are older. We travel very differently. These old bones appreciate a bed to sleep on for a long flight to Asia or Europe. And we stay in the luxe hotels and appreciate well presented, high quality food. But it was a totally different experience at a younger age, at a different life stage, when we working hard on balancing great experiences with growing our financial security.

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      • #33
        I would venture that the demographics of the high end hotels like mandarin, four seasons, Waldorf are more international than American.

        One tends to meet the people who how we travel. While at a burn, you'll probably meet a very different type of person than at the gallery showing in la Jolla.

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        • #34
          What I'm saying is our need to travel fast - to fit in small windows of opportunity, which is mostly a function of our high octane jobs - is expensive. I'm looking forward to longer slower travel, which I think will be far cheaper per day, but that requires separation from my current job or at least roles. Pulling the trigger young is hard, especially with kids and a family reliant on my income, but I'm not waiting till I have old bones.

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          • #35
            FIREshrink The problem is you need 3 things to travel—time, money, and health. When I was young (the age I imagine the people you were talking about) I had time and health but no money. Now, 5+ years into my adult doctor job, I have money and health, but not enough time, due to work constraints and kids’ schedules with school and sports. I’m hoping to be able to retire early enough that I’ll have all 3 for a long enough period of time to knock a bunch of stuff of my travel bucket list.

            I did some travel when I was younger, but didn’t have the budget to do what you are describing. I think you met a very narrow slice of European elite who have the ability to do what you are describing. I went to college with quite a few Europeans and Australians and South Africans and none of them did what you are describing.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by bovie View Post

              I share the sentiment. Except we’ll be shooting for >90%, at least for the first few years.

              Well, not shooting for per se, but absolutely expect to end up hitting that.

              Can’t wait. It’s a big world out there.
              Hmm, good point. I guess in retirement, vacation spending is an infinite (divided by zero) percentage of income. It might be better to quantify it is a percentage of annual spend or net worth. I am expecting vacation to be about 25% of annual spend in retirement.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by MaxPower View Post
                FIREshrink The problem is you need 3 things to travel—time, money, and health. When I was young (the age I imagine the people you were talking about) I had time and health but no money. Now, 5+ years into my adult doctor job, I have money and health, but not enough time, due to work constraints and kids’ schedules with school and sports. I’m hoping to be able to retire early enough that I’ll have all 3 for a long enough period of time to knock a bunch of stuff of my travel bucket list.

                I did some travel when I was younger, but didn’t have the budget to do what you are describing. I think you met a very narrow slice of European elite who have the ability to do what you are describing. I went to college with quite a few Europeans and Australians and South Africans and none of them did what you are describing.

                Definitely not elite though some of those I've met are college grads. But they absolutely have a different approach to work-life balance and that means they mostly have jobs as opposed to careers. Interestingly many have found a way to monetize their passions online, they're not getting rich but they can make a little side income to support their explorations - online tutoring, YouTube channels, vlog/blog, etc. Very small timey stuff, no one has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, but they can make a little money and of course - no kids.

                The big difference is they don't view travel as a plug and play experience that you buy full price off the shelf, and squeeze into your "real life". Travel is real life.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by FIREshrink View Post
                  What I'm saying is our need to travel fast - to fit in small windows of opportunity, which is mostly a function of our high octane jobs - is expensive. I'm looking forward to longer slower travel, which I think will be far cheaper per day, but that requires separation from my current job or at least roles. Pulling the trigger young is hard, especially with kids and a family reliant on my income, but I'm not waiting till I have old bones.
                  You have provided your own answer on why we don't travel the way Europeans do. Our profession does not allow slow travel. Except for a few who hit FI early on, most need to work till age 65. Kids and other family issues get in the way. The culture of taking a year off to travel before college or after college and before a job is not a rite of passage in USA.

                  Two other points

                  USA is vast. The European countries are small in comparison. If you exclude European Russia, the rest of Europe may not even be half the size of USA. Many countries are like our states in size. It was as easy to go to another European country like we go from one state to another.

                  USA is isolated by two big oceans. Getting to and getting out require flying for the vast majority and that is expensive. The only things you can do by land is go to our 51st state, or go south of the border to the beaches. And for us to fly to Europe is like for the Europeans to come to USA for vacation. Many in UK go to the cheap beaches of Spain and Portugal for a getaway for cheap booze and partying. They don't do much in way of cultural trips. Years ago, when I mentioned to the nurses there that I was going to NYC, they looked at me with a strange and puzzled look. Some were envious that I could do this trip to such a far away place. Many older folk in Northern England had not even gone to London, let along abroad. You get a tinted glass view about Europeans and travel when you hear about stories of young Scandinavians going to Thailand. The reality is different for the vast majority.



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                  • #39
                    It's an open question about how common slow travel is - but doesn't diminish the attraction for me. A 1-2 week vacation is great but really just feels like an annex to my work. Work controls everything.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by FIREshrink View Post
                      It's an open question about how common slow travel is - but doesn't diminish the attraction for me. A 1-2 week vacation is great but really just feels like an annex to my work. Work controls everything.
                      Many Europeans have 6 week vacations, with the majority getting a month off at a time. That can be compatible with somewhat slow travel. We get 2 week breaks at a time. So during our working years, slow travel is not possible. I had to juggle a lot to get 19 day break to go to Australia.

                      You know it is better to get a 1 week in Peru than none at all. BTW, I am not much into high end travel. I don't want roach motels or hostels, but I don't care about Ritz or Mandarin. A decent Holiday Inn or Hampton or their country's equivalent would do just fine for me.


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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by bean1970 View Post
                        no budget. i've been eyeing up the Abercrombie &Kent private journeys for $159k per person. Has anyone taken these?
                        I'd never heard of this group, but looking at their website, it looks like some amazing trips

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by MaxPower View Post
                          FIREshrink The problem is you need 3 things to travel—time, money, and health. When I was young (the age I imagine the people you were talking about) I had time and health but no money. Now, 5+ years into my adult doctor job, I have money and health, but not enough time, due to work constraints and kids’ schedules with school and sports. I’m hoping to be able to retire early enough that I’ll have all 3 for a long enough period of time to knock a bunch of stuff of my travel bucket list.

                          I did some travel when I was younger, but didn’t have the budget to do what you are describing. I think you met a very narrow slice of European elite who have the ability to do what you are describing. I went to college with quite a few Europeans and Australians and South Africans and none of them did what you are describing.
                          The Iron Triangle of traveling? I like it.

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                          • #43
                            Breaking it down to % gives me a clearer picture of whether we're spending too much or too little (relative to overall spending/saving). Our travel budget takes up a big % of our spending, but still less < 5% of annual gross. I was just curious how much others in this forum are spending (prioritizing).

                            Thanks for all your responses.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Lordosis View Post

                              The Iron Triangle of traveling? I like it.
                              Carmen Sandiego’s Triad.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by FIREshrink View Post
                                These responses make me happy and sad at the same time. I'm glad folks see travel/experiences as worth spending money on; but it seems very American to need to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to see the world.

                                I've talked with a lot of Europeans the last year or two and they have such a different worldview and a completely different approach to travel. Granted most of them have been younger, still in their 20s-40s and without kids. But they travel very light. Travel is not a twenty thousand dollar seven day whirlwind plugged into their hectic busy lives; travel is a six month journey to Indonesia and Thailand during which they might do a little remote work to make ends meet - or not. They spend a year in Australia following the harvest, taking large blocks of time off to surf or hike. They spend wine harvest in Bordeaux helping their parents out for a couple months before heading back to Japan for four months to see friends, practice their Japanese, and learn Japanese drumming. One guy followed his girlfriend to Brazil where he learned jiujitsu and Portuguese - he stayed for a year. He did end up working some during that time but now wants to move to the US to experience six months in a college town with a big football team (I suggested a Big Ten town - other ideas?). One woman moved to New York and works about 40 hours a week - but goes to Mexico twice a year for about two months each time where she stays with friends and surfs and rides her bike and gets some sun.

                                None of this travel involves business class airfare or first class hotels or tourist guides or three star restaurants. There are camper vans, train trips, adventures with cabbies, strange foods, escapades with government officials. But they are really traveling, really experiencing other cultures, and truly enriching their lives. They're relaxed and happy and the glow lasts much longer than the duration of their latest ten thousand dollar seven day trip to Disneyland or Aruba.

                                Obviously the demands of our high dollar jobs get in the way of this for most of our careers. I'm not sure it's worth it in terms of stress, longevity, and true happiness, but we've made our beds, taken out our student loans, bought our seven figure houses and six figure cars and so on, it takes a brave soul to really shift course midstream. But these friendships have really opened my eyes that a lot of the world doesn't live like we do in America - and that we've sacrificed an awful lot to have 4000 square foot houses and two Teslas and a boat in the three car garage. As soon as our youngest is off to college it's hasta la vista to anything that keeps me from long slow travel. And it might be sooner than that.
                                This basically ignores the reality that there are significant differences between the United States and Europe, many of which have been noted, and there are especially significant differences between your typical mid-career American professional and the European granola-fed flower children you seem to have mistaken for "a lot of Europeans."

                                Kamban makes very good points which a lot of people, particularly Americans or those who have not traveled much internationally, forget: the United States is exceptionally large in area and essentially separated from the rest of the world (e.g., Europe, Asia) by two massive oceans.

                                Regarding fitting a square peg into a round hole, you say that this is a poor way to solve the "problem" but I don't understand what that "problem" is? A desire to travel? People have different tastes, of course, and will pursue them accordingly. No more complicated than that.

                                And I think it's important to note that luxury travel and shoe-string budget off-the-beaten-path travel are not mutually exclusive, though most people certainly would tend to have a preference I'm sure, based on finances, time, and the experience desired.

                                I've done the backpacking thing, and I've done the luxury thing. And pretty much everything else between. Been to well over 50 countries at last count, and that was several years ago. Lived in a handful more.

                                It's all awesome, and it's all different.

                                Want to go to Dubai? Don't rough it. Heading to El Salvador? Good luck finding anything resembling luxury. Different places lend themselves to different types of travel. And some lend themselves to all types of travel.

                                But I don't understand feeling sad that people with resources choose to use those resources to see the world in the way they see fit, whether it's staying at a five-star luxury beachfront resort in Hawaii and doing the golf+spa thing, or camping out on a remote beach that's only accessible with a permit via an 11-mile one-way hike through rain forest and over mountains--with 70 lbs. of gear.

                                Done both, on the same trip. These travel styles are not mutually exclusive, and of course require significantly different resources and desires to pursue them in the first place. But neither is better than the other, neither is more "pure," and both make me happy.

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