What Seattleites should consider financially before planning post-pandemic travel

Who doesn’t miss traveling? After more than a year of staying-at-home, Seattleites, like most of the country and the world, are ready to get on the road again. As a financial advisor, I have long partnered with clients to help them achieve their life goals by aligning their finances, and nearly all of those I work with have a line item for travel.

Maybe it’s that once a year international trip,  a family vacation driving cross country with the kids, or a milestone celebration somewhere exotic and adventurous. In any case, most, if not all of those plans were put on hold in 2020. As the world begins to reopen, I receive lots of questions from clients eager to start venturing out again, though their attitude may have changed about when and where they’d like to go.

Changing attitudes toward travel

One of the noticeable differences I’ve experienced with people about their plans is the wide range in distance that people are willing to travel today. While some people are itching to dust off their passport and go as far as they can – checking off a bucket list item as soon as possible, others are extremely cautious right now about venturing too far from their home base.

Living in Seattle, we are very fortunate in that over the past 15 months many of us have been able to reconnect with our home city and its surrounding areas, which offer lots of outdoor activities. It’s safe to say that perhaps we didn’t suffer as much from cabin fever as other large metropolitan areas, as so many of us have taken advantage of the nature right outside our doors or just a short ride away. That being said, we have varying opinions about when we’re comfortable traveling again, and quite a few of my clients have expressed a weariness to get back to “vacations as usual.”

One reason – in my opinion – is that Seattleites are highly community-focused, and for the greater good of those in need we will quickly make some sacrifices in our lives. A big example of that is in the many conversations I am having with clients about redirecting some of their travel funds to philanthropic causes or in their desire to donate travel funds to charities most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other spectrum, we do have a few clients who are already planning a larger-than-life vacation to an off-the-beaten-path destination. According to Visit Seattle President and CEO Tom Norwalk, who recently appeared in a virtual event with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), he referred to this as Carpe Diem or “revenge travel,​” which encompasses people who have either had to cancel large travel plans over the year and are ready to make up for lost time, or those who no longer want to put off a special occasion trip for a future time.

Revisiting your financial plan before you plan your travel

Whichever side of the spectrum you’re on for travel (and even if you’re somehow in the middle), one key component to achieving your goals is to revisit your financial plan.

In my conversations about travel, I start by gauging my client’s comfort level. How much have they saved toward travel in the past year and is it still as high a priority as before the pandemic? Are they looking to be adventurous and take a chance on a destination that may require some additional restrictions to visit? Are they looking to stay close to home? Some of my clients may have previously taken an annual trip to a new country, and now they’d like to stay domestic and take a road trip. Maybe they’re even considering rethinking their travel fund altogether for another goal or a more charitable cause.

From there, we build a realistic plan for affording the kind of travel that my clients want today, adjusting where needed and understanding that their attitudes toward vacationing might be different in the next year or so. We are experiencing a very unique shift in 2021, and it has certainly given many of us time for self-reflection about our goals, our priorities and where we see ourselves in the future.  That can be a lot to process rationally when we’re excited to get back out and take advantage of this new day ahead of us. This is a perfect example of how a financial advisor can serve as a guide and ensure that you’re protecting your future while also understanding your short-term goals.

To learn more and for guidance on how to plan financially for your next travel excursion, visit privateocean.com.  

Private Ocean is a West Coast-based wealth management firm deliberately structured to give clients the intimate experience of a small firm while harnessing the power, depth and discipline of a much larger one. Formed in 2009, the firm has locations in San Rafael, San Francisco, and Seattle. 

Julie Back is a financial advisor and principal at Private Ocean. Julie counsels her clients to be flexible and to understand why their behavior is the biggest contributor to their success. She holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation and received a BS in Business Administration/Marketing from Central Washington University.

[1] https://www.portseattle.org/blog/international-travel-outlook-and-trend-report


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