scorecardKayak launched a new 'holiday calculator.' As a millennial, it's depressing.
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Kayak launched a new 'holiday calculator.' As a millennial, it's depressing.

Nidhi Pandurangi   

Kayak launched a new 'holiday calculator.' As a millennial, it's depressing.
Finance2 min read
Kayak launched a new "holiday calculator." As a millennial, it's depressing.    John M Lund Photography Inc/Getty Images
  • Travel search engine Kayak launched a new budgeting tool called "Vacay Valuator" on May 19.
  • The calculator presented me with 15 options of comforts I was willing to give up in exchange for my next holiday.

We are almost halfway through 2023, and I was recently hit by a depressing number: one.

That's how many PTO days I have taken so far this year.

If you're a millennial like me, chances are you, too, aren't the biggest fan of the rising inflation rates and insanely high airline ticket prices that have chipped away at our purchasing power this year.

But I was looking forward to some good news when I read that on May 19, travel search engine Kayak launched a new budgeting tool — "Vacay Valuator" — that helps people book their next vacation.

The tool does exactly what it says it does — but the problem is that it's the same messaging millennials have been getting for years.

First, the good: The online tool is easy to use.

Now, for the bad.

Vacay Valuator asks the user, "For how many months would you like to save up for?" I keyed in the number "two."

Next, it presented me with 15 options ranging from "coffee" and "alcohol" to "home DIY" and "gym," and one prompt: "Select the items which you are ready to abdicate."

As a Kayak spokesperson told me, "the interactive tool provides an easy and practical way for people to see how much they could save by making small adjustments to their spending habits to help fund their holiday."

But in real terms, what it means is that according to this tool, to afford one comfort — a vacation — I need to give up another.

A screenshot of Kayak
A screenshot of Kayak's budgeting tool Vacay Valuator      Kayak

Notably, the tool didn't ask for my income or any other parameters for budgeting, but I went along with it anyway.

According to Kayak's Vacay Valuator, if I stop drinking coffee for a month — saving £44, or $55 — all I can afford is a flight from New York to Charleston for a weekend in June — and that's literally just the flight itself.

If I went harder with my cuts and stopped buying coffee and alcoholic beverages for two months, and halted my Amazon Prime subscription and professional house cleaning services, I would save $739 — enough to buy a round-trip ticket from Singapore to Ishigaki, an island in Japan's southwestern Okinawa Prefecture known for its beaches and its snorkeling, diving, and surfing sites.

A weekend on a Japanese beach sounds pretty nice.

But this budgeting tool is playing on the same tropes that have already been plaguing millennials for years: Stop eating avocado toast, stop getting takeaway coffees, and all your financial woes will be solved.

Before you angrily tweet @ me, I am a trained accountant — meaning I budget obsessively.

But it also true that we're living in a brutal economy and facing stagnant wages. We've already weathered two financial crises. And yet, we're still being told that we, and our discretionary spending habits, are the problem.

And that is really depressing.