Poll: Paycheck Worries Scare Away Vacation?

Are you planning to take a vacation this year, or are budget worries keeping you home? Take our poll.

Budget cuts. Paycheck squabbles. Downsizing. Unpredictable deployment schedule. … Summer vacation?

With school on the verge of getting out for the year (or already out in some places) many military families are counting down the days to that magical time that they spend away from their duty station — block leave. But according to one finance tracker, some military families are planning to spend less on vacation this year than they have in the past.

On the one hand, that surprises me. Since everyone says we are in a draw-down, deployments are becoming less frequent (they say) and garrison or shore time is increasing, it seems like the perfect time for military families to take that often put-off vacation to somewhere amazing. When was the last time you had time like this on your hands?

Are you planning to take a vacation this year, or are budget worries keeping you home? Take our poll.

This is the kind of vacation I want to go on: solo on a bike without my kids.

On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me at all. A black cloud of funding question marks and job security is still hanging over the military community. Congress and the President have really broken our financial spirits with all of this cuts stuff. Who knows if some of us will even be in the military this time next year?

The impulse to save our cash against hard times ahead doesn’t seem like a bad one. And we can always have fun near home for a lot less than we can if we travel far away. In this house, for example, we spent $60 last fall for a year-long camping permit at a nearby recreation area. Other than the gas we use for the hour-long drive, our frequent weekend trips now cost us nothing.

Forty-seven percent of the service members First Command surveyed said they expect to spend less on vacation this year than they have in the past. And 29 percent said they’d be taking shorter vacations, while 21 percent said they’d be doing a “staycation.” The survey questioned 202 service members E-6 and above, First Command officials said.

You tell us — are you planning to spend less this year, too? Take our poll and then check out what other people said.

Fill out my online form.


Photo courtesy U.S. Army.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • 4M

    I’m glad my fellow service families are planning for the unknown, but sad that it’s affecting summer.

    We only get 18 summers with our kids, and our AD spouses can only take so much leave.

    Vacations are the one vice we have in our family. We save all year to get our two vacations in w/o having to dip into emergency savings, but we’d dip into emergency savings if we had too. Heck, I’d leverage future earnings if I had to and put it all on credit, the stress relief is needed that much. But we’ve always paid cash for our vacations as I rather spend a week in Destin, than a year drinking starbucks (how anyone can take the amazing taste of coffee and doctor it up into a milkshake is beyond me).

  • shosh

    You should have given an option for no vacation. We have two small children, I just greatly reduced my work hours to stay home with the kids, and travel costs for plane tickets for a family of four from anywhere outside the Continental U.S. to Conus are insane. We will be PCSing in 18-24 months and will have a home to sell. We put our extra money into our home, for our enjoyment now and to increase value when we try to sell in the future. 15 years as a military spouse, and I’ve never heard of the term “block leave” before!

  • Guest

    Where is the option for “No vacation because spouse is deployed?!?!”

  • GI Joe

    How about “No vacation because currently deployed, then PCSing to unknown location within 60 days of return?”

  • Guest

    Only once was my wife and I able to take a vacation. That was because we both PCS’d from the same post at the same time. Otherwise the Army never allowed us to both take more than a couple of days leave at the same time. The needs of the service take priority over family vacations.

  • Leon Suchorski

    Vacation? Back in the 60s, it was a 24/7 work thing stateside. Your only hope for a vacation came at Christmas or New Year. And mostly not even then. In four years, I got two vacations for the Christmas holidays, and that was it. I mustered out with 60 days on the books, the max that they would pay you for.

  • Lgreen

    Only vacation days I ever have are PCS or unpaid pre/post deployment because I change jobs so much I never have any days saved.

    • Lgreen

      My husband takes leave and just sits at home since I can never leave with him.

    • Just saying

      I’ve never had a civilian job, but can’t you just take unpaid time off? Isn’t that an option? Like “hey, I can’t work next month for these two weeks.”

      I mean, with irregular work comes irregular paychecks so you are likely living on just one check anyways right? So no biggie if you don’t get paid for two weeks.

      Or is there something else.

      • Guest

        With most civilian jobs–even on a base–they need their STAFF there. That’s why they hire people. So if you’re not available, they don’t have enough people to stay open. So, you’re fired because you’re not doing what you were hired to do: your job.

  • Guest

    A previous post brought up a great point–even if service members have leave to use AND a chance to use it, for spouses, frequent moves mean we never have a chance to accumulate vacation time, paid or otherwise. Plus the fact that one is often in a “probationary” period before becoming a full employee at most places, which means you can’t take time off even if you want to take it unpaid.

    • Just saying

      really? can’t take unpaid time off? that’s how things are out there? wow.

      • guest

        Yup, pretty much. My company would fire anyone that asked for unpaid time off, if they can let you take a month off, it pretty much means your job is irrelevant.

  • Tyrone houng

    I don’t know why anyone complains about what this Republican Congress does most veterans vote Republican who don’t believe in big government y’all been voting against your own interests for years the same congressmen that vote to make cuts in the military will vote to give billionaires and big corporations a tax cut

  • Joe

    welcome to the real world. Civilians also face budget cuts from their companies constantly. This isn’t something that’s just unique to the military. It’s not all leprechauns and unicorns for us either. Last summer for example, my family and I had to cut our vacation short by a few days. Not only that, but we couldn’t afford to fly everyone first class. Considering the fact that I had to take my in laws, it was pretty embarrassing.

  • Matti B

    We’re moving to a new place (same town) so all our extra money is going to that. Here’s hoping we can do something fun for the Xmas holiday!