Reader Question: Shall we do a Christmas Holiday Trip?

We have a reader question for your for today. We are doing pretty good on the savings rate side of things at the moment, but that is about to change next year. We are planning for a 9 week holiday in 2018. The plan is to go road tripping through southern Europe. But this also means 2 months of unpaid leave for Mr. CF. Mrs. CF is going to have 2 months of paid leave instead of her cash bonus (sweet deal!). In short, the savings rate is going to be far from stellar in 2018. Furthermore, Mr. CF is likely to also quite his job in the second half of 2018 (about a 1 year delay). We therefore have the following Reader Question: Shall we do a Christmas Holiday Trip?

A Christmas Holiday Trip?

We could just ignore all our dilemmas and just splurge on our third vacation of 2017. But that’s not us. Here are our dilemmas:

  1. We are off work over the holiday season (mandatory paid time off). We will be off from Friday December 22, 2017 until January 1, 2018; a nice 11 days without having to lift a finger. It would only cost a bit of money to actually travel and spent Christmas somewhere warm for a change;
  2. If we do, how much money would be reasonable for this trip?
  3. If we want to go somewhere warm, we would need to fly. This obviously has a big environmental impact, should be pay some extra and compensate our emissions?
  4. Where do we want to go? Considering Miss CF is not good at sitting still, we want to keep the travel time limited. This pretty much limits our options to places like Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Morocco and perhaps even Dubai.
Reader Question: Shall we do a Christmas Holiday Trip?
Reader Question: Shall we do a Christmas Holiday Trip?

Dilemma 1 & 2: Money

Simple fact is that we still have some budget for this year to travel, despite our 2 earlier holidays to Belgium and Germany. If we don’t use the available budget, the savings rate just goes up further and we have more breathing room in 2018 for the long road trip. It would basically provide a buffer for next year. Can we miss the money, sure. But would it help us next year, absolutely!

How much money do we have available? Ideally we would want to limit the costs to about €1000 for the 3 of us for 6-7 days (so about €150/day). This might be tough (if even possible?) and won’t be very luxurious, but that fine with us. If we would go “fancy” we could stretch this to €1500.

What would you do?

Dilemma 3: Emissions Compensation

This dilemma ultimately revolves around money again. As compensation of emission from flying can be done by simply spending some more money. The costs of compensation for 3 people flying to Lisbon (Portugal) from Amsterdam, in Economy, would just be about €12 via Greenseats and €24 via Treesforall. Not really shocking amounts! Should be a no brainer, really, to compensate about 2-3t of CO2 from flying.

What do you think, any other options/alternatives?

Dilemma 4: Locations!

Now this is a dilemma and a challenge all at the same time! Ideally we want to fly from Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Eindhoven. Those are places we can get to quick quickly via public transport or by cab. We could move out further to Dusseldorf or Brussels, but that would take away precious time travelling without seeing anything, but might have a potential for lower costs.

Let’s assume we limit the costs for travel and accommodation to about €800 and leave about €400 for food, attractions and trips. Based on a quick search we did, Dubai seems to be out of the question (too expensive). Portugal and Spain are good options but we might need to book flights ourselves in combo with AirBnB.

So far I was not able to find deals that fitted the financial criteria. Perhaps I’m aiming too high (or low) for a holiday during a school holiday and the Christmas season? We are also opting to see if you can purchase a last-minute within 1-3 days of travelling, never done something like it before. Could be cool! It also does not fix the destination until the “the last minute”.

So, our beloved readers, pitch in some ideas! Would love some feedback and ideas. Do keep in mind that we would like to go to a place that is relatively warm and (preferably) dry. Have had enough grey and wet weather for now…..


  1. I have the feeling my opinion is a bit different than most comments here. I would not travel during the upcoming holiday season (at least not by plane). Flights, hotels and even airbnb locations will be more expensive. I find Christma a wonderful time and therefore, I would opt for some nice Christmas activities at home, e.g long winterwalks in the forest, ice skating and enjoy home made goodies. This can always be prolonged with inexpensive day trips. As such, budget for your travel period next year will increase or could be used towards savings/investing to ease your mind a bit more (= quiting your job will be an awesome step and saving a bit extra can be positive for your mindset, at least it would be with me).
    In any case, enjoy the holidays!

    1. Hey TMD, thanks for the feedback! It would be our first Christmas “on the road” if we are able to find a deal (which I agree is going to be difficult). We like the Christmas season too, but I really look forward to warm temperatures and no rain (for a change, has been a horrible fall around here). Enjoy the holidays too!

  2. Nice that we are invited to share our opinion on your travel plans! 😉

    It’s always difficult to find a balance between enjoying life and saving money. I am having that dilemma almost on a daily basis now (for example, am I here on Mallorca just for weeding, feeding the chickens and washing dishes, or am I going to spend money on exploring the island?). If I were you, it would be important when in 2018 that road trip would be (nice, by the way!): first half or second half of the year?

    And about CO2-compensation, I don’t know where, but I recently read an article that it’s more for a good feeling than that it’s actually helping a lot. It is better than nothing, but I have a bit of a problem with buying off your own emisson. I would rather say that if it has been 2 years, it would be your turn again 😉

    Finally, I don’t want to spoil your voorpret, but this is by far the most expensive period in the year to go on holidays. Wherever you go. Next to that, you have to travel quite far for a good chance of warm and sunny weather. Southern Europe is risky and probably won’t do. Think of a mere 15 degrees in the middle of the day, if you are lucky. The Canary Islands will be a better option. But I would be surprised if you can manage with that budget.

    It’s just the combination of end of December / warm and sunny weather / restricted budget that probably won’t do…

    1. Our readers are nice people, so letting them way in on the matter seemed logical 😉

      As to the holiday, we are not getting our hopes up anymore, seems to be a bit too expensive around that time of the year. We might still try a last minute, but I’m not counting on much. Ah well, so be it, we will still be off and having fun. Plus, next year really should be a great trip.

      I mentioned in the comment to E that we are considering buying a plot of land (ideally not treed yet) to make our own forest. That way we would really be sure we are doing some compensation (in addition to flying less).

  3. I’d really appreciate some sunshine and would absolutely not go to Turkey at the moment and would also skip Dubai, don’t like the culture over there, however for just some sun and beach it can be a good option but personally I’d absolutely skip Dubai. Canary Islands sounds like a pretty decent option for that time of the year. Sal is also possible but that’s about a 6-hr flight….(way too long!)

    It won’t come cheap in a Holiday season but some time together is priceless. However you can get some quality time at home also.

    What was your travel budget for the year for the 3 of you?

    I think costs will rise quickly in this holiday season and you might easily end up spending €1500,= a week now, that same €1500,= might buy you 2 weeks extra in your next year holiday when off-season.. However a holiday with the 3 of you might something the little one will remember forever, then it’s totally worth the €1500!

    I really like your idea of compensating the emissions! I never looked into that but will have a look if we fly the next time!

    I think your dilemma is just the financial one. Do you want to spend it now or later? How much happiness is that €1500,= buying you now and how much happiness would it buy next year on the big trip?

    1. Hey Meneer, some very valid points you have here. I think we had a yearly budget of €2500 for 2017. We currently have spent way less than that. The €1500 is probably what we have left (don’t have the Excel spreadsheet at hand), and yes if would help when we do our road trip next year (which is in the off-season for obvious reasons). That being said, it really is a financial dilemma more then anything else. Happiness? Yes, it would buy some temporary happiness, will the little one remember this, probably not.

    1. That sound awfully like a YOLO to me, isn’t it? We already did 2 holidays this year, will do a major one next year. It’s not that we don’t travel because of the money, it more a question how to find an acceptable balance between the money and travel.

  4. You guys prefer some nice temperatures and even dry weather. I would suggest Dubai for this. But this wouldn’t be the very best choice for the budget. Maybe the better choice for your budget would be Greece or even Turkey.

    1. Good point, Dubai has a greater chance on warm and sunny weather around this time of the year. But it’s rather expensive indeed. For political and safety reasons, I’m no going to Turkey. Greece might be a good one for sure, have not been there in a long time! Thanks for the feedback.

  5. In my opinion, you should go. Always nice to have a sunny break mid winter. Also good for your health.

    About the location: Southern Europe can be nice, but no guarantee about good weather. Egypt an Dubai? Neh, not my personal choices. Egypt concerning risk management and Dubai concerning prices. You can consider Canary Islands, Cape Verde or even further west to the Caribbean.

    About pricing: Christmas holiday travel and decent pricing can’t be mentioned together 🙂 Just accept the high price. FIRE is not only about savings rate and independence, but als also about making conscious choices and enjoying life.

    1. Hey Chris, thanks for pitching in! The Caribbean is out of the question, toddler and a 10 hour flight? There is only so much torture I can endure. But the Canary islands might be a good option, will check it out too.

  6. I definitely commend your environmental responsibility, thinking about emission compensation.

    Most people wouldn’t care… that flight is going to fly with or without you.

    1. Thanks Mr Tako, it should really be a no brainer, it’s really not much money to compensate. Everyone that can afford it, should do it in my opinion. Think about it, if you can afford the flight, you definitely can afford the emissions compensation!

  7. Interesting question! We were facing this dilemma as well because we are going away next year to Iceland and that is not a cheap destination. In the end we decided not to go away over Christmas break. Since you’re already going away to Southern Europe for 9 weeks next year, I probably wouldn’t go, but that’s very personal. Sure compensation for carbon emissions is good, but it’s better not to fly at all. I try to limit myself to one airplane destination a year, but again, that’s a very personal decision. Also I broke that rule this year myself and took a plane for two trips.

    Financially I guess it depends on your financial goals and how the decision of taking this trip would impact it. Also how much value do you place on taking trips? If it’s very important to you could you cut out some other want to compensate for the expense?

    I hope others will respond as well because I find this to be one of the toughest areas as well to decide for myself how hardcore we want to be on this. Some people I know cannot afford to go on vacation at all, others fly out for city trips every month. As long as you can afford it, you’re the only one who can decide what is ‘normal’.

    1. We have not flown in about 2 years now since we emigrated back to Europe. So this would be our first flight in a while. But point well made, not flying is better than flying and compensating. Did you compensate your flights? If so, where?

      We have no more wants that we can cut, this is probably the only “want” we have at this time. The other want is the trip for next year. I would like to go, but I would not mind it too much if we skip this Christmas holiday travel knowing what’s coming up next year.

      Financially this is an interesting question. We have enough money, but it will set us back obviously and we will decrease our buffer for next year for sure. And this will also delay FI by about couple of weeks, but this seems too little to be concerned with.

      Thanks for commenting

      1. I used Trees for all for the compensation for CO2 Emissions. It was the first time for us to do this. From what I read in the comments it sounds like you can make it work to go into your financial plans. Spending €2500 a year on travel sounds very reasonable!

      2. We are planning to up this travel budget when we are FI to around €5000. Some slow travel might be included too. Will see, for now we try to have 2-3 holiday for that €2500 budget, which is possible but it won’t be very fancy.
        As to the CO2 compensation, we are also considering buying a plot of land ourselves and then plant our own forest. At least this way I know for sure that the money is spend well. If you can have the status changed to “forest” with the government, the value is exempt from taxes too!

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