Vacation costs: the whole family can help

It is every parent’s dream to take their family on a vacation. It has certainly become my dream. However, for a family of 5, any trip can become very expensive. In my previous post, I talked about children always having a money goal to work towards. Money goals can include saving towards a family vacation. To me, this is my favourite goal because it is one instance where the family works together to achieve a common outcome.

Family vacation
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Vacation costs to save up for – 3 guiding principles

Of course it would unrealistic to ask the children to pay for all of their costs. It would also be unrealistic to ask the children to pay for the basic necessities that parents ought to provide. So what exactly should the children save up for? Depending on the destination for the family vacation, the children can save up for anything that meets the following 3 points:

  1. It is not a basic necessity.
  2. It is an incremental cost – it is an amount that is charged per child.
  3. The child has the option on his or her level of participation.

Those 3 points make it as fair as possible to ask the children to pay for the thing. It is also guilt-free for the parent because it is supported by reason:

  • A basic necessity is the parent’s responsibility. Things such as food, drink and shelter must be paid by the parents.
  • Something that is charged per child makes the children own the transaction. It is also fairer for younger children who are usually charged a lower amount at some places.
  • Something which the child has the choice over empowers the child to make decisions about their money.

Vacation costs children can contribute towards

Here are some examples of things that the kids shouldn’t be asked to pay for:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Transportation – plane tickets, fuel/gas, bus tickets, train tickets.
  3. Food and drinks – regardless of whether you decide to eat at a Michelin star restaurant or at a fast food joint, food and drinks is the parent’s responsibility.

So what are things that a child can be asked to save up and pay for?

  1. Entry ticket to amusement parks.
  2. Lessons – eg. skiing lessons if the family vacation is going to the snow.
  3. Extra-curricular activities – eg. horse riding if the family vacation is camping.
  4. Dessert – while food and drinks is a necessity, dessert is a luxury.

Where possible, find out how much each child has to save up. Entry tickets, skiing lessons and horse riding are all activities that have pre-determined prices. For things that are uncertain ask your child to save an extra $10. That should cover some of the cost. It’s up to you whether you then make up the difference or ask your child to pay you back. Be sure to also give the children plenty of time to save up the amount.

What vacations have you asked your children to save up for? Share with us in the comments!