Thursday, June 13, 2013

Outlining Vacation and Travel Costs

When we’re preparing to travel, I do my best to cover our bases when it comes to outlining our costs for the trip.  From start to finish, I do a timeline of sorts with associated costs.  This applies whether we’re heading out for a long weekend or going on a three-week vacation.  This way I have a good idea of what our overall expenses will be and I can then budget and plan accordingly as well as look for areas to cut costs.

Getting to our Destination
The first step in my vacation travel cost outline comes in the form of figuring out how much it’s going to cost to get to our destination.  If we’re flying, this is typically a little bit easier.  There is the cost of the flight, transportation to get to the airport, luggage check or per bag fees, and any meals or snacks that we might have along our travels.

We tend to pack accordingly to avoid checked bag fees, and we also typically pack snacks and treats in our carry-on bags to cut our meal costs since we find airport food somewhat pricey.

If we’re driving, it’s a different story.  Since we’ve owned our vehicle for over 10 years, we have a pretty good feel for our gas mileage.  We tend to get about 17 or 18 miles per gallon with highway driving and closer to 14 or 15 with city driving.  By gauging the mileage of our trip before we leave, I can get a pretty good feel for how many gallons of gas we’ll be consuming in order to get to our destination.  At this point, I can either multiply our number of gallons consumed by my own per/gallon price average or I can use a site like or to get an even better idea of what our cost for fuel consumption will be to get where we’re going.  Then I tend to add in a few bucks for meals or snacks along the way, though we tend to pack such items for the trip before we leave home to cut costs.

Once There
Next up on my vacation cost timeline are the costs once we arrive.  These costs typically involve hotel room expenses (adding in any additional taxes and fees such as state and local taxes, crib fee, or whatever), food and beverage expenses (which we tend to keep low by packing much of our own food if we are driving or buying at local grocery stores once we arrive if we have the opportunity), and entertainment costs.
With my estimates, I tend to come up with a general food and entertainment budget total and then divide it by day so that I can gauge how much we’re spending each day and ensure that we’re staying on track with our travel budget as our trip progresses.

Getting Home
If we fly to our destination, this portion of my travel cost outline isn’t as difficult since that cost has already been factored in well in advance to our departure through out ticket purchase.  There can however be the cost involved in getting back to the airport and any meals or snacks involved along the way home.

Otherwise, it’s back to my gas mileage cost estimates and food cost estimates, which I can utilize from our trip there. 

From combining all these cost determinations, I can have a complete travel cost outline well before ever setting foot outside the home.  This is helpful in not only finding out how much our travels will cost and planning appropriately, but it helps us look for ways to cut costs, and determine which trips are most important to us and whether they are really worth the costs involved.


  1. It's so hard to budget once you get in the "vacation mode". I've always tried to budget before I take a vacation with my family, but once you get into that mode, it's hard to stick as planned. I miss the days when you didn't have to budget a vacation growing up.

  2. I definitely agree, Thomas. When vacation mode takes over, it's hard to combat, this is why it's even more important to get an early jump on planning.

    Yeah, when we were younger it was so easy, just pack a few toys and jump in the backseat, right?