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“Financial Thoughts from a Summer Vacation”

 

I’ve missed the last couple of weeks of financial thoughts since we recently went on a family vacation.  My wife is from Australia and we finally had the chance post Covid to go back and see her family and catch up with a lot of friends.  It was a great trip and I thought I’d take a second to reflect on what we noticed traveling again and what changed/hasn’t changed from a financial standpoint.

 

Inflation Smacks You in the Face

 

You don’t necessarily have to be traveling again to notice inflation.  The gas pump and grocery store checkout lines are obvious enough, but have you seen airline prices recently??  It used to be quite common to fly from Atlanta to Los Angeles round trip for about $400.  That seems to be a thing of the past, with most flights hovering around $1,000 at the moment.  Perhaps some of this is summer holiday pricing, but either way the airline prices were an obvious wake up call.  In addition to airfare, hotel prices have gone absolutely bonkers.  Maybe it’s the pent up demand from two years of lockdown, or the fact that we were visiting Sydney during a famous light show performance called Vivid, but you couldn’t find a decent hotel for less then $350 per night.  Traveling again made me realize just how real the inflation readings are getting.

 

Exchange Rates can be a Beautiful Thing

 

With all of that talk of inflation, one of the beautiful things about earning money in US Dollars (at least for the time being) is that making purchases in Australia was slightly more bearable.  With an inflation rate hovering around 70 cents, it was nice to have your $25 breakfast actually come out to $17 once you paid on the credit card.  I’ve heard other Americans speak of similar things on their more recent trips to Europe or the UK where the dollar has strengthened over the past years, but seeing this firsthand was a nice change.  That being said, it is something to watch for America’s inbound tourism scene as we have quickly become a much more expensive place for international visitors to experience over the past few years.

 

Regardless, don’t wait for “Eventually”

 

One big takeaway for me is that regardless of inflation or where exactly exchange rates fall, it’s so important not to wait for “eventually” to happen when it comes to travel experiences with your family.  In the past I’ve tended to be one who was more inclined to save or put-off these experiences but having a family of my own has made me realize that the travel is a wonderful opportunity to see the world through your children’s eyes.  It also takes the pressure off to make the trip something unattainable for yourself.  If you go into the experience with how you can make it the most memorable trip for your children (or other family members) it tends to turn out as one of those trips you talk about for years to come.