View of the front of a home

Parked at home

Sep 14, 2020
Empower Insights

How one family is moving forward after pumping brakes on summer RV trip

The wheels were all set in motion.

For the past six months, Kelli Goins and her husband had been mapping out a once-in-a-lifetime road trip with their two young children to Florida. The preliminary itinerary, of course, called for stops at Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center and the ocean as well as visits to many other popular attractions.

And, by taking the family RV on the nearly 1,200-mile journey, the couple believed it would be a cost-friendly adventure as they aimed to limit their overall expenses when it came to travel, food and lodging.1

“With an RV, it’s very convenient,” says Goins, a customer care representative for a local power company. “We’re able to sleep in there, make our own meals and bring everything we need from home with us. So, we were all looking forward to enjoying the long drive together; it was going to be a great time.”

Instead, like many Americans can suddenly relate to these days, Goins’ summer vacation is now stuck in neutral.2

Once the coronavirus outbreak began making waves throughout the U.S. in the spring,3Goins “wasn’t quite sure what to do.” At that point, Disney World had already decided to temporarily close its gates and planned on reopening with a laundry list of enhanced safety measures in place for patrons to follow, such as requiring temperature checks, social-distancing protocols and face masks.4

Not to mention the prominent beaches, destinations and establishments that shut down because of COVID-19 concerns.5

“We wanted this to be an experience our kids would remember forever,” Goins says. “It just didn’t seem worth it.

“Hopefully, we’ll try again later.”

After pumping the brakes on the much-anticipated getaway until 2021, “depending on if things get back to normal,” Goins is keeping a positive mindset on how her situation has played out for her financially.

For starters, Goins didn’t have to worry about requesting any refunds or swallowing any deposits as she had yet to purchase tickets to the different theme parks or book parking arrangements for the RV. Both items were high on her agenda before she elected to reverse course on heading to Florida.

“I was just about to reserve a spot before everything happened,” Goins says. “We had been saving up for it.”

Saving, after all, is nothing new to Goins and her husband, who is a co-owner of a small concrete company.

Goins has always maintained a strong habit of setting aside a fixed sum from her paychecks for fun, leisure and retirement as her husband’s annual income and salary typically fluctuate based on business. “We’re pretty frugal people,” she insists. “We focus on putting away a decent amount of money.”

Young boy wearing helmet, riding an All Terrain Vehicle, four-wheeler

In fact, Goins estimates she had already stashed away more than $5,000 for this year’s vacation — plenty of funds in the bank, in her view, to cover fuel, parking and entertainment for the nine-day escape.

“I budgeted and prepped for everything,” Goins says. “With so many activities to do, I knew things could add up quickly.”

But, while Goins hasn’t spent that $5,000 like initially hoped, some of that extra cash has come in extra handy lately.

For instance, on top of allocating a portion for a future trip to Florida, Goins used a few of those dollars to pay for essentials and groceries for a short stay at a nearby lake with close relatives. It may not have been the water the family was expecting to soak up this summer, but “it was still a nice break for us.”

“We just got to relax,” Goins says.

Maybe best of all, Goins was able to hold true to a deal she had previously made with both of her children. Once she could afford to front the bill, she had pledged to buy them each a motorized vehicle of their choice — a dirt bike for her daughter and an ATV for her son — as upgrades from their “kid” bicycles.

Promise kept.

“They ride those things two to four days a week,” Goins says. “They’re having a blast being outside right now.”

Save for your next vacation with an Empower Investment Account

1 Jordi Lippe-McGraw, NBC News, “Budget travel: 5 ways to save money on your next family vacation,” September 2015.

2 Christiana Farr, CNBC, “When will we start traveling again? Here’s what experts are saying,” May 2020.

3 Lazaro Gamio, Mitch Smith, Karen Yourish and Sarah Almukhtar, New York Times, Watch How the Coronavirus Spread Across the United States,” March 2020.

4 Stacey Lastoe, CNN, “Disney World tightens mask requirement a week after reopening,” July 2020.

5 Jack Evans, Tampa Bay Times, “Five things to know about Florida’s closed (for now) beaches,” April 2020.

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