You Need a Winter Vacation – Here’s why you’re not taking one.

December is here. And as the end of the year approaches many of us are limping to the finish line. No surprise that after a year that has had enough political turmoil for a decade, many of us are pining for a vacation.

What is surprising? Many of us won’t take one.

girl on beach instead of in snow on winter vacation
You (and I) should be here.

“While 72 per cent of Canadians said that an annual vacation is important to them, it’s interesting that only 49 per cent actually expect to take one.” So says Dan Keon, Vice President, Market Management for Allianz Global Assistance Canada in their recent Winter Vacation Confidence Index survey (data compiled by IPSOS).

It seems that while the idea of the Canadian snowbird who ditches the dreary winter weather in favour of hotter climes, is still a popular notion, the actual number of us making it to the beach on a winter vacation is down.

According to the survey, 51% of Canadians say they won’t take a winter vacation at all. And the majority of those Canadians (66%) who won’t be travelling say the reason is simple: Cost.

No WinterVacation Budget? You aren’t alone.

Lack of finances is by far the biggest obstacle among Millennials (75%), Gen Xers (73%), and women (73%) who don’t think they’ll be able to take a winter vacation.

infographic explaining findings of Allianz Winter Vacation study

Also interesting is that, of those lucky ones who are planning a winter vacation, they say that they expect to spend more to do so. Canadian households are still expected to spend over $13.5 billion on winter vacations this year.

 Dan also says: “The Index shows that having the budget to take a vacation is directly related to age. While Millennials cite greater budget constraints (75%), Boomers appear to have saved or acquired the resources with significantly fewer (55%) indicating that money is keeping them from travelling.”

I can relate.

Focused all year on the work in front of my face – which luckily almost always includes some travel – I’ve come home and recovered from jetlag only to find I never remembered to book any winter family getaways.

While it’ll mean we’ll be hibernating at home this year, I’m already determined to make sure this doesn’t become a habit.

palm trees and white sand - where you should be

How to Make Sure You Aren’t Left in the Cold Next Winter

So, how am I planning to ensure we have a winter vacation lined up for next year? Glad you asked.  

I’ll start dreaming now: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my research, it’s that family travel over the  holidays  is not a last-minute sport. Many of the places you wish you could be, have been booked by savvier families – sometimes as much as a year in advance. Now is the time to hop online (Hello Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook) and start figuring out what warm weather getaway could be yours next year.

I’ll figure out how much I need to save: There are lots of great flight/accommodation search engines online. Try Skyscanner, Kayak, or GoogleFlights with your dates to get a sense of what flights next year might cost you. Now isn’t necessarily the time to book your flight but if you allow them to send you alerts, you’ll be ready when the deals come out. Knowing a rough estimate of your flight costs will also give you a sense of how much money you’ll need to save and whether your dreams of a $100 flight to Lisbon are realistic.

I’ll make a plan:  Once I’ve got a number in mind, I’ll break it down into bite-sized savings chunks. Need $5000 for your solo trip in a year? That’s $416 month. Or $96.15 per week. Or $13 per day. You get my drift. Now, look realistically at where you’re spending money. Is it doable? Is it as simple as buying one less lunch at work each week? Or will it require you to make harder decisions? Does it mean maybe your summer vacation plans have to be scaled back? Or will it mean working extra hours? Is it worth it to you? Face the reality head-on. Instead of hiding from the bills, use goal planning techniques to get ahead of them.

I’ll Keep the Dream Alive: I’m a visual person, so I’ll need visual cues to help me remember why I’m eating at home or skipping the girls’ lunch. If you’re the same, think about ways you can remind yourself of your goals. Make the destination your screen saver. Or start a winter vacation destination playlist. Keeping the dream alive throughout the year will help you when you start to lose sight of why you’re sacrificing other things.

And don’t forget to also work on ways to add bonus money to your savings. Collect Airline miles? Label a goal with your destination and watch the numbers add up. Start a new bank account with an auto savings option: Every time you make a withdrawal, have it send a dollar to your vacation account.  More old school? Keep a glass jar in the front hallway, label it with the excursion you’re hoping to try next winter and drop your pocket change or anything you would have flitted away on a coffee or treat in there too. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it can add up and play a role in reducing the dollars you need to make your holiday dreams come true.

This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AZGA Service Company) and I have received financial compensation.