How to Understand the Spending Triggers on Vacation

Vacation Savings

Whether you are daydreaming about a beach vacation during winter in North America, or wishing for colder climates during summer, you must also be thinking already about the money you will undoubtedly spend. After all, traveling involves many factors that all cost money: transportation, accommodation, and food, to name a few.

In recent years, the costs of traveling have been amplified due to the effects of the pandemic. However, this does not stop people from going on vacations. Skift Research showed that while there has been a surge in prices for trips, travel bookings and spendings continue to increase.

Aside from expected costs of travel, there can also be a lot more spending involved when one goes on a trip. Most people tend to overspend while on vacation because of spending triggers, or psychological prompts that encourage spending.

Emotional Spending

An article by Upgraded Points focused on the psychology of spending and discussed emotional spending triggers such as feelings of jealousy, anxiety, depression, or guilt. Most of the time, spending becomes a way to manage these emotions.

After you recognize your emotional triggers, it is easier to then start thinking about what response you can prepare for the next time you get these cues so you can stay on top of the situation. Acknowledge that you are spending because of an emotional, and not a practical, reason. Remind yourself to think whether the item you want to spend on is a need or a want.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

While FOMO can be an emotional trigger, environmental cues make this doubly tempting. Feeling a certain pressure to be a certain way or have certain things others have can be a powerful influence to spend while on vacation. Thus, people can tend to dole out money for expensive trips, VIP experiences, or costly souvenirs.

To overcome this trigger, you can again try the techniques for emotional spending. Additionally, if a feeling of wanting something extraordinary is a trigger, you can still opt to look for fun but free or cheaper activities such as exploring on your own versus splurging on a guided tour. Our post on ‘Budget Travel to Expensive Destinations’ shows that it is possible to turn a luxury trip into an affordable vacation with careful planning and being open to more immersive local experiences.

The Social Media Effect

Related to FOMO, another trigger that is both environmental and emotional is exposure to social media. Social media has become a top influence for most people to spend money. TIAA Digital Engagement Survey showed that one-third of respondents trust social media content in making financial decisions. Multiple studies have also shown that excessive use of social networking sites is negatively associated with financial well-being.

To overcome this particular trigger, the best thing to do is to avoid social media altogether. Since you are going on vacation anyway, plan to do a digital detox as well. Delete social media apps from your phone. You can also remove exposure to ads by avoiding shopping apps and websites. This way, you can make your spending decisions based on your own needs and not from someone else’s influence.

Recognizing and understanding these triggers when you are planning a vacation can lead to better control of vacation expenses. As shown in our post on ‘How To Spend Less While Travelling’, there are ways to be able to travel and still save money with proper preparation and planning. This includes strategic booking, skipping pricey packages, and ensuring access to cheaper dining options. In the end, the goal of traveling is to have wonderful experiences, and if you end up not having financial problems after your trip, then the whole experience is even better.

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