The word vacation
typically conjures images of fun-filled getaways, whether it’s sipping cold
drinks on a hot beach; tearing down the slopes of a picturesque mountain; or
taking in the cosmopolitan sights of a big city.
It does not
bring to mind the many obligatory trips – weddings, family events and reunions
– that sometimes make up a significant portion of many travellers’ holiday budgets.
to an April 2013 American
Travel Behavior Survey by discount travel site Hotwire.com, some 21% of US adults spent
$197 billion last year on trips they felt obliged to make – so-called
“oblication travel”. What’s more, the first survey in
2012 found that 41% of Americans use the majority of their vacation budgets on these
industry that typically views travel as either business- or pleasure-related,
the news comes as a surprise. It also provides insight into the myriad reasons
people travel and how they spend their money.
much money allocated to obligatory travel, travellers may be thinking about
putting off the fun trips they want
to take because they believe they won't be able to afford them,” Hotwire.com wrote
in its report.
for obligatory events like weddings and reunions shows commitment to
relationships and to rituals that reassure and comfort us, according to
sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, who told CNN that
travelling for family and friends “is a way of showing… that you value your
And savvy travellers
can have their cake and eat it too – that is, salvage time and money for
leisure travel – with a few common-sense tips.
choose the obligation trips you attend, turning down invitations or
get-togethers that strain budgets – or emotions. (In other words, if you can
send a card in lieu of visiting your politically contentious uncle across the
country for his 50th birthday, by all means, do it.)
opportunities to combine obligation and leisure travel. For example, a trip to
Hawaii for a destination wedding is a perfect excuse to take a few extra days
on the beach. Even cities provide good opportunities. For example, a family
reunion in Chicago is an ideal set-up for a getaway to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (about
75 miles away), while a business meeting in New York is an excellent opportunity
to enjoy the scenic Hudson Valley region (which starts as little as 20 miles
obligation and pleasure trips also carries with it implicit savings – think of
it as one flight and set of accommodations for two trips. Save some cash by
boarding with family or friends at night while pleasure-tripping during the
Still, if a
vacation just isn’t a vacation unless it’s away from family and obligation,
Hotwire suggests a list of bargain
destinations for US travellers who’ve spent most of their money doing just
that. Topping its list are Washington DC, Chicago, Vancouver, the Dominican
Republic and Turkey.