This year, many people are choosing to not take a vacation. This decision is based on economic or perceived economic concerns. The price of gasoline is high, but no higher than last year. The job market is tight, but no tighter than last year. The cost of traveling, food, lodging and points of interest have not gone up appreciatively, so why the reluctance to go on vacation?

There are several reasons. Since the economy is stagnant, many people are more stressed. They feel that they cannot be away from a job they have without jeopardizing that job. This cycle is of course self inflicted pain. A vacation is exactly what you need when you are under a lot of stress. People are concerned that the economy will not start growing for a long time, so they want to save as much as possible. This may be true, but drastically changing your spending/saving habits just means when the economy does start growing again, you are going to spend yourself into a hole. As with anything in life, moderation is the best path. Then there are the people who feel guilty about taking a vacation. Either they know someone who is unemployed or think that you might know someone who is and should share the distress.

The biggest influences seem to be external. The continuous bombardment of news stories about how bad things are combined with the political advertisements blaming all of the woes of the world on various office holders provides a background of economic despair.

The dry truth is that the United States and most of the World are currently in a trough of economic stagnation. Economics is a cyclical beast with admittedly some influence from political decisions. We can only be sure that things will change, but we cannot be sure of what direction the change will take. When a large portion of a society drops into a “save at all costs” mode, we have seen that a prolonged period of slow growth results. When a society goes on a spending binge, we see dramatic fluctuations in the economy. That is about the extent of the “sure” things in economics.

So when considering vacation plans, be moderate in your decisions. If you situation requires that you do something different this year, then by all means make an adjustment. If you have an opportunity for momentary extravagance, then why not do it? Even if you just do something locally, to get away from you routine, the benefits will out weigh the costs. I recommend something, anything really, to break the stress and live life.