Being in debt is stressful. It can put a strain on you, your family, and even your job performance at a time when you need to stay disciplined and focused. The emotional effects of debt include depression and anxiety, resentment, and stress, all of which are known to cause people to make more impulsive decisions.
If you find the desire to get away from it all mounting, it may be time to plan a vacation. It’s not impossible to get away when you’re in debt; just plan your costs carefully and stick to a strict vacation budget.
You Need a Vacation More Than You Think
The traditional North American labour laws typically assign workers with two weeks of paid vacation time. These days, however, getting benefits and paid vacation doesn’t always come as a part of the job. Many people work and hold jobs that do not provide vacation, and sometimes there is an expected social pressure to forego time off at work.
But as anyone who has ever taken some time off to care for themselves can attest, vacation is often a much-needed remedy. Most people do not even realize that they are burnt out before their vacation comes, by which time it’s truly worth the rest.
Still, it’s become the culture to work more, take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later in life. People are afraid about expressing a desire to be away from work in what is otherwise known as the “layoff era,” where work is tentative and the fear of unemployment is real. People want to show that they’re committed to their jobs! Many people put in long hours and skip out on lunch breaks even though they would rather not.
Why live by these “live to work” ideals? Other parts of the world more willingly embrace a more generous work-life balance. In fact, various studies have shown that taking time away from their job has physical and psychological health benefits. People who have dedicated time off work experience lower stress levels, reduced risk of heart disease, an improved outlook on life, and are more motivated to achieve their goals.
Health Benefits of Vacation
The proof is in the pudding: a vacation can be good for you. Know someone in your life who still needs convincing? Take a look at the following extra benefits of taking time off of work.
- Your mental health improves. The science is really there to back this one up: neuroscientists have reported that chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol actually alters the human brain’s structure. These changes are often major contributing factors to anxiety and depression, which can have long-lasting effects. When you are decidedly away from work, your brain can fully rest and recover, bringing a sense of calm back into your life.
- Your physical health improves. The negative effects of stress go beyond your mental health. Your physical health also suffers when you work yourself too hard without a break. High blood pressure and heart disease are common stress-related health issues. According to a report in the New York Times, vacationing every two years as opposed to the more typical six years will lessen the risk of heart attacks or coronary heart disease.
- You’ll think sharper. In many cases, a vacation is just the thing it takes to shake out the cobwebs from the brain. When people return from work, they are sharper thinkers and find it easier to focus and problem solve. One of the consequences of cortisol exposure is lowered ability to complete goal-oriented tasks. People also experience memory issues, another way in which taking time away from work improves their health.
- You will avoid burnout. When workers take regular time to relax and completely detach from work, they are less likely to experience burnout. As a result, the work that’s being done is more creative and focused than if it was done by someone who’s just trudging along. What’s more, those who are avoiding burnout are doing something good for themselves by lowering their overall stress levels.
- Improved happiness from planning alone. When you’ve got something to look forward to, you tend to have a little bit of a spring to your step and a twinkle in your eye. So much so that even planning the vacation comes with its own set of improved mental health benefits. Some folks have even stated that they felt the improved mood for eight weeks leading up to their trip.
- More rewarding relationships. When you get to spend some leisure time with loved ones, you can really bond with each other and strengthen your relationships. Sure, there are the classic family vacation squabbles that are bound to come up, but studies have shown that women who take vacations are more satisfied with their marriages.
- Your wellbeing improves. What you define as “wellbeing” is going to be personal, no doubt, but here we’re referring to all the things that make you feel regularly healthy and happy. Poor sleeping, physical ailments, and low mood are all things that a vacation can improve. These benefits are felt even up to five weeks after returning from a trip. This is especially true for those individuals who got plenty of personal time and were satisfied with the trip.
Taking Time Off When Paying Back Debt
A vacation can give you the mental space you need to stay focused at work and keep your spending under control. There are just a few rules to live by so that your vacation doesn’t make the situation worse.
Rule #1: Stay Local
One of the biggest costs of travelling as a Canadian is dealing in another currency. You can save by not having to worry about the exchange rate, or paying fees for exchanging your currency. See below for local travel ideas in Canada.
Rule #2: Stick to a Budget
Decide how much money you can afford to spend on your vacation without having to change your debt payments. The best way to avoid overspending on a vacation is making a budget and sticking to it. Research your destination before you go, too. Find out which restaurants you want to eat at ahead of time and how much it will cost. Don’t forget to budget for accommodation, gas, entrance fees, and any incidentals that may come up along the way.
Rule #3: Find Ways to Save Money
There are a lot of resources for budget travellers looking for tips to save money on their vacations. They can provide you with even more ideas for stretching your budget further when you want to take time off. A few ideas include:
- Booking airfare or train tickets at least two months in advance and setting up price alert notifications.
- Learn and use the public transportation system wherever you go. It’s cheaper than renting a car or taking taxis everywhere.
- Pack light to save on extra baggage fees.
Rule #4: Never Use a Credit Card
When it comes to things like airfare, you may have to use a credit card. Make sure you have the money already and pay off the balance right away. You can also get a secured credit card, a card backed by your cash deposits in the bank. A secured credit card works a lot like a debit card but will still allow to book air, train or bus tickets online.
Secured credit cards can help you rebuild your credit during a consumer proposal. Once you file, you have to hand over your credit cards to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. If you’re asking yourself, does a consumer proposal loan make sense, keep your credit cards in mind and consider the viability of using a secured credit card.
Travel in Canada
Travelling domestically can help you save. Paying for your vacation in another currency can add significantly to your costs. Not only is the loonie worth less than many other currencies, but you also have to pay exchange rates with the bank, money exchangers, or extra fees on your credit card. When it comes to travel in Canada, there are simply so many incredible options to choose from, you don’t need to go overseas for an incredible vacation.
Vancouver Island & the Rockies
In Western Canada, Vancouver Island makes up the farthest swath of land, and the biggest city on that island is Victoria.
One of Victoria’s most popular attractions is Butchart Gardens, which attracts nearly a million visitors per year. The gardens feature a number of themed floral displays including a rose garden, a Japanese garden, a Mediterranean garden, and an Italian garden. The site has been ranked as one of the best public and botanical gardens by Condé Nast Traveller, USA Today, and National Geographic.
If you head east toward the mainland, you’ll come to Yoho National Park located amongst the Rockies of British Columbia’s interior. The park is a hiker’s paradise, and it offers incredible views of the Rocky Mountains — but without the throngs of tourists, you’ll find in nearby Banff and Jasper. Yoho’s most popular trail, the Iceline Trail makes for an epic 21 km trek, which offers up the scenic view of the Yoho valley, as well as the Daly Glacier and the Takakkaw Falls.
Moving East, you’ll eventually come upon Canada’s financial and cultural capital, Ontario. 15 times larger than the state of Texas, this province offers many opportunities for travel and fun for the whole family.
Ontario is home to the nation’s largest city, Toronto, as well as the nation’s capital, Ottawa. In Toronto, you can enjoy a bevy of museums and galleries such as the AGO (the Art Gallery of Ontario) as well as the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). You’ll also see the world-famous SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Center) and if you’re lucky, catch a Jay’s game. Ottawa, meanwhile boasts the National Gallery of Canada and ice skating on the Rideau Canal.
Ontario may be home to a lot of great cities, but it also encompasses large expanses of beautiful lakes and vast tracks of wilderness. Ontario is also home to the world-famous Niagara Falls, Canada’s most visited natural attractions.
While the province won’t let you take a trip over the falls in a barrel anymore, you can still take a ride on the Maid of the Mist, and enjoy the same boat ride tourists have been taking since the 1840s.
Head farther east and you’ll be ready to explore the beauty and majesty of Quebec. Here’s some history — the Place-Royal habitation (the birthplace of Quebec City) was formed by Samuel de Champlain in the year 1608, the same year the Bushmills distillery opened and King Lear was first published. Be sure to visit the site, as it still contains a number of original 17th and 18thcentury buildings.
Then head all the way East to Canada’s lovely maritime provinces. In the port town of Halifax, you’ll find the historic Waterfront, where numerous food stalls, restaurants, bars and patios, which manages to retain its charm despite the tourists.
Or better yet, visit the public gardens and enjoy manicured lawns with on-site cafes — popular backdrops for weddings and other photoshoots.
Whatever your taste from near to far, from West to East, from sea to sea, Canada has so many incredible places to visit and things to do.
Can You Take a Vacation While in a Consumer Proposal?
One of the most important differences between consumer proposal and bankruptcy is that a consumer proposal does not require you to pay your creditors extra income or additional cash you may receive (i.e., due to inheritance). You and your creditors agree to a schedule of fixed monthly payments that do not have to change based on your income. You can agree to speed up payments, but it is not mandatory. In a bankruptcy, there will be a period of time in which you have to pay a portion of any extra income if you get a raise, promotion, or a second job.
If you want to know more about consumer proposals, we are ready to answer any consumer proposal questions you may have. If you’re working and have a steady income, a consumer proposal can work for you. You can call us to learn more and schedule a consultation.
Taking time to recharge and recover can help you meet your debt repayment goals. As long as you stick to a budget, you can come back feeling recharged and ready to get back on track toward your long-term financial health.