Author Topic: Family Vacation Budget?  (Read 11952 times)

BeanCounter

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Family Vacation Budget?
« on: April 22, 2017, 05:48:37 AM »
How much do you spend on family travel each year?
We are debt free, and about 60% of the way to our FI number ($1.5 for a family of 4). We are considering a very expensive vacation this summer and I'm having a hard time with letting the money go. Curious as to what others spend.

MsPeacock

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2017, 06:20:44 AM »
I spend about 10k per year for travel for me and my two kids. Generally at least one international trip and one or two other small ones. I might make a trip or two on my own. These trips are on a shoe string but add up due to paying for three people and going overseas. For me travel with my kids is one of my top expenses aside from housing. We love it and it breaks the year up nicely.

I can see spending more for special types of travel. Such as the Galapagos or a safari.

Cranky

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2017, 06:25:54 AM »
Probably $3k/year; we only do road trips, so it's mostly rentals/motels and groceries.

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2017, 06:30:32 AM »
Just wife and I so not an exact comparison. We usually spend $4k per year. However, that includes using AirBnB (or reward hotel nights) and rarely paying for flights. I highly suggest looking into credit card bonuses and points. We were in Italy in the fall and just got back from a week in Mexico (free with points flights and $900 for a great house 5 minutes walk from the ocean).


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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2017, 07:51:34 AM »
We spend what our chosen vacation costs...we don't budget, but we make reasonable choices.

Our 10-day Galapagos vacation (for 2) was about $10k. A week Scuba diving in Cozumel, about $3k, a week long getaway to Montreal less than $2k. We haven't done a domestic vacation in awhile, but it costs about $500 when we go visit family (gas, meals, activities)

With flights from the middle of nowhere costing a fortune, we usually spend $800-1000 just on airfare.

BeanCounter

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2017, 08:10:14 AM »
Current trip under consideration is a 7 day cruise for myself, DH, two kids and my mother (in her own room). Cost will come in at about $10k with flight and everything. Seems high, but not sure if we'll have the opportunity to travel together again. I like cruising okay, but it's not my ideal trip. However it is the best fit for my mother who is 71 and not in great health, and our 4 year old who is not the best traveler yet.
If we budgeted $10k per year moving forward it would set back our FI date, but it would allow us to do A LOT together as a family while the kids are home.

bmiles62

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2017, 10:01:45 AM »
We are saving up $6000 for a six week camping trip across the country this summer.  We usually budget about $4000 a year for various trips. We work at a High school so we get 6 to 8 weeks off every summer. It is just my wife and myself and our dog.

MayDay

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2017, 11:23:48 AM »
We are spending like 5k on Disney, although my parents are covering some.

That is unusually high for us, but we travel several times a year. Total is probably 10k a year for four.

If I ever go back to work FT we'd probably spend even more.

researcher1

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2017, 11:47:57 AM »
Current trip is a 7 day cruise for myself, DH, two kids and my mother.   Cost will come in at about $10k.
Seems high, but not sure if we'll have the opportunity to travel together again.
It is the best fit for my mother who is 71 and not in great health, and our 4 year old who is not the best traveler yet.

This is a no-brainer. 
You are financially secure & have the means/ability.  Take the vacation and enjoy yourselves!

It will provide you, and your older child, with a lifetime of memories, looking back fondly on this trip with mom/grandma.

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2017, 11:55:25 AM »
How much do you spend on family travel each year?
We are debt free, and about 60% of the way to our FI number ($1.5 for a family of 4). We are considering a very expensive vacation this summer and I'm having a hard time with letting the money go. Curious as to what others spend.

As you've said, this would be a trip that allows you to spend a lot of time with your entire family. You have the means, so if this fits in with your values do it.

The one thing I'd ask yourself is whether you could find another vacation that would be as fun and as accessible to each of your family members.  I've noticed with large vacations that there always seeems to be a way of cutting a few thousand dollars barely any sacrifices, whether its travel-hacking or waiting until after-peak.

sparkytheop

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2017, 01:10:27 PM »
For me, it depends on the trip...

We've done four European vacations starting when DS was 9.  The first one was about $7k (two weeks, four countries, with a tour group since I'd never traveled before).  Second one, $2k (9 days, one country).  Third, can't remember how much, probably around $5k (2 weeks, 1 country).  Last one, $12k (5 weeks, 9 countries).

The years we didn't do the big trips, we may have only spent a few hundred, taking a road trip somewhere, going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, camping, going to Leavenworth, finding a Ren Faire, etc.

Ways I felt fine with spending for my "very expensive vacation"...
I had planned on doing it for a couple years (the five weeks in Europe vacation).  I still shopped deals and tried to be frugal about how we did it.  I got train tickets when they had a deal of 7 free extra days when you bought a 30 day train ticket, so it covered our entire trip.  Bought both tickets on one to get another 15% or so discount--the only limitation was we couldn't travel separately, but we didn't plan to anyway.  I took advantage of night trains so that the travel time was combined with sleeping, to stretch our visiting hours in different locations.  I took advantage of museums and other activities where my son's admission was free, or greatly discounted, because he was under 18.  I made it my goal to average less than $100/night on rooms.  We stayed a bus ride away in some areas to save money on a room, while we were able to book a room in a castle in one location, and be right on the old town square at another.

We shopped markets for food, or little mom-and-pop type places instead of big fancy restaurants.  We'd have picnics of "mystery food" because we didn't understand the language so just got convenience foods that looked good.  We found cool, free sites to visit (Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, with a picnic lunch), walking around just to see what we could find.

I usually booked some kind of fun thing as well, and it was the big splurge for the trip: Dogsledding in Leavenworth, Gladitor School in Rome, a Maginot Line tour and Normandy Beaches tour in France.

For me, I just want the money I spend to be "worth it".  I may overspend on some things just to get an experience, but that just means I'll balance it by being more frugal where it is less important to me.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2017, 01:22:19 PM »
How much do you spend on family travel each year?
We are debt free, and about 60% of the way to our FI number ($1.5 for a family of 4). We are considering a very expensive vacation this summer and I'm having a hard time with letting the money go. Curious as to what others spend.

As you've said, this would be a trip that allows you to spend a lot of time with your entire family. You have the means, so if this fits in with your values do it.

The one thing I'd ask yourself is whether you could find another vacation that would be as fun and as accessible to each of your family members.  I've noticed with large vacations that there always seeems to be a way of cutting a few thousand dollars barely any sacrifices, whether its travel-hacking or waiting until after-peak.

Exactly. There are many ways to vacation. We travel a lot, and are really good at getting a lot of bang for our buck. It always kills me when I hear about people spending exorbitant amounts on family vacations because they think, "well, vacations are expensive". Recently I was talking to someone who was paying more for a 5 day trip to a resort in Hawaii then we spent for an entire month of travel in Europe (England, Italy, France). This was their first big vacation, and her husband's first time leaving the state, and they were working with a travel agent and I was thinking to myself, "You are spending thousands and thousands on a trip that is so short it is likely to be more stressful than relaxing. And I could save you so much money" but of course I kept my thoughts to myself.

So I guess what I am saying is, yes! You should vacation! It is a great way to make memories and experience new things. But you should think carefully about what you want out of a vacation. If you tell us where you are thinking about going/what you want to do, I bet the people her could provide suggestions for how to get more for your money (and by more I mean more of whatever it is you want. Don't discount the value of just getting a rental house in a pretty place and chilling with the family for a week).

Hargrove

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2017, 06:51:07 AM »
Wow.

$600.

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2017, 07:32:25 AM »
Wow.

$600.

What kind of vacation is this? This wouldn't even get us airfare to, well, pretty much anywhere for 2 people.  $300 is extraordinarily cheap to fly anywhere.
If we drive somewhere for the week, this would barely cover 5 nights in a hotel, much less anything else.

I'm wondering what kind of vacation you do, and for how many people.

BeanCounter

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2017, 07:45:24 AM »
How much do you spend on family travel each year?
We are debt free, and about 60% of the way to our FI number ($1.5 for a family of 4). We are considering a very expensive vacation this summer and I'm having a hard time with letting the money go. Curious as to what others spend.

As you've said, this would be a trip that allows you to spend a lot of time with your entire family. You have the means, so if this fits in with your values do it.

The one thing I'd ask yourself is whether you could find another vacation that would be as fun and as accessible to each of your family members.  I've noticed with large vacations that there always seeems to be a way of cutting a few thousand dollars barely any sacrifices, whether its travel-hacking or waiting until after-peak.
Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I've thought a lot about if there was another vacation that would be a better fit and I'm not sure that there is.
We typically rent a beach condo (typical cost there is $3k) in the summer and stay at my family's mountain cabin in the fall (there I only pay for cleaning service, gas and groceries). These are good vacations for DH and I and the little kids. But as they are getting older we want to actually do more sightseeing and cultural adventures. We have a goal to visit ALL the national parks before the kids leave home, and at least one trip abroad. I am all about doing these adventures with the kids cheaply. I've backpacked in Europe several times, staying in hostels, cheap hotels and even a nunnery once. These are things I want the kids to experience and know how to do.
The hard part on this trip is taking my Mom. She has cancer and just isn't well enough to do a lot of walking. She is apposed to the beach condo because it usually requires me to do a lot of cooking and grocery shopping etc. She wants a true vacation for everyone. We are also limited by work and school schedules. Plus coordinating with our summer babysitter. I think a cruise is a good options because it's something for everyone with no work and very little walking. Mom is also excited to see the kids reaction to the ridiculous abundance of the ship.
So I think the answer is to do this trip with no regrets. Try and accumulate travel points for us to use later. Then next year keep travel costs lower and it should even out.
I think $4k per year is probably more reasonable. But I expect some years could be closer to $10k. This will set our FIRE plans back a bit. But we are both happy enough in our jobs (DH never wants to retire) and I think making memories with the kids is pretty important.
That spot between YOLO and FIRE is a tough one.

Hargrove

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2017, 07:55:14 AM »
Quote
What kind of vacation is this? This wouldn't even get us airfare to, well, pretty much anywhere for 2 people.  $300 is extraordinarily cheap to fly anywhere.
If we drive somewhere for the week, this would barely cover 5 nights in a hotel, much less anything else.

I mean, somebody has to give a counterpoint to the half-year's-budget vacations on here...

I drive a ~30mpg car on road trips, and don't fly whenever I can avoid it. Book hotels a little further from the Biggest Thing In Town™ or AirBnB instead of rent a hotel, or vacation places with hotels that don't charge tourist-trap prices, or stay with friends. Free museums from Bank of America, free hiking from the US Gov, free community events everywhere. Beaches aren't hard to find, just cheaper if they're not in the Bahamas. Conventions are cheap and a lot of fun if you're not trying to buy everything, and nobody wants to book a hotel more than 1 mile from the place, usually.  If you want to drink, bring a couple cases of beer.

I did a trip to Utah a couple years ago in a standard-name hotel that charged like 40-50 or something a night, four or five days, 10 minutes from rolling canyons and endless mountain trails (2 people). Visited museums and saw the canyons and spent time with friends. The same friends did Hawaii on three digits for around four days with a family of three, AirBnB and careful airfare a year or two ago.

Cruises can be had for relatively low prices if people want to buy a "whole package." You can get them cheaper if you bother to buy stock in Carribean or Royal, too.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 07:57:45 AM by Hargrove »

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2017, 07:57:42 AM »
We have an annual budget for travel which is kept to around 4% of gross income.  That is plenty for us to make a few international trips in rather modest style.  I work the interwebs pretty hard to make sure we get the best travel and hotel fares possible.  Airfares, in case you haven't noticed, are on the rise, in some cases rather dramatically.  I don't think we'll make it home for Christmas this year, for example, unless they drop quite a bit.  I really start to choke on any airfare over $1000, regardless of how far it takes me.

Feivel2000

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2017, 07:58:28 AM »
How much do you spend on family travel each year?
We are debt free, and about 60% of the way to our FI number ($1.5 for a family of 4). We are considering a very expensive vacation this summer and I'm having a hard time with letting the money go. Curious as to what others spend.

As you've said, this would be a trip that allows you to spend a lot of time with your entire family. You have the means, so if this fits in with your values do it.

The one thing I'd ask yourself is whether you could find another vacation that would be as fun and as accessible to each of your family members.  I've noticed with large vacations that there always seeems to be a way of cutting a few thousand dollars barely any sacrifices, whether its travel-hacking or waiting until after-peak.
Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I've thought a lot about if there was another vacation that would be a better fit and I'm not sure that there is.
We typically rent a beach condo (typical cost there is $3k) in the summer and stay at my family's mountain cabin in the fall (there I only pay for cleaning service, gas and groceries). These are good vacations for DH and I and the little kids. But as they are getting older we want to actually do more sightseeing and cultural adventures. We have a goal to visit ALL the national parks before the kids leave home, and at least one trip abroad. I am all about doing these adventures with the kids cheaply. I've backpacked in Europe several times, staying in hostels, cheap hotels and even a nunnery once. These are things I want the kids to experience and know how to do.
The hard part on this trip is taking my Mom. She has cancer and just isn't well enough to do a lot of walking. She is apposed to the beach condo because it usually requires me to do a lot of cooking and grocery shopping etc. She wants a true vacation for everyone. We are also limited by work and school schedules. Plus coordinating with our summer babysitter. I think a cruise is a good options because it's something for everyone with no work and very little walking. Mom is also excited to see the kids reaction to the ridiculous abundance of the ship.
So I think the answer is to do this trip with no regrets. Try and accumulate travel points for us to use later. Then next year keep travel costs lower and it should even out.
I think $4k per year is probably more reasonable. But I expect some years could be closer to $10k. This will set our FIRE plans back a bit. But we are both happy enough in our jobs (DH never wants to retire) and I think making memories with the kids is pretty important.
That spot between YOLO and FIRE is a tough one.
IMHO and without knowing very much about the cancer condition of your mother or your relationship with her:

Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, it would be a good idea to give in to the dream vacation of your mother, even if it will move FIRE two months further away.

BeanCounter

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2017, 08:03:08 AM »

Cruises can be had for relatively low prices if people want to buy a "whole package." You can get them cheaper if you bother to buy stock in Carribean or Royal, too.

What do you mean by "whole package"?
I think my cruise cost is high ($1,035 per day for five people or $207 per day per person) because we are traveling during peak. I have to be willing to take my children out of school to do otherwise.

Hargrove

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2017, 08:05:41 AM »

Cruises can be had for relatively low prices if people want to buy a "whole package." You can get them cheaper if you bother to buy stock in Carribean or Royal, too.

What do you mean by "whole package"?
I think my cruise cost is high ($1,035 per day for five people or $207 per day per person) because we are traveling during peak. I have to be willing to take my children out of school to do otherwise.

Taking kids from school or not is a personal decision, but you already know the answer is not to travel peak. By "whole package" I mean the cruise is usually all-expense-necessary in one bill. It's a little harder with 5, too, of course.

BeanCounter

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2017, 08:47:25 AM »

Cruises can be had for relatively low prices if people want to buy a "whole package." You can get them cheaper if you bother to buy stock in Carribean or Royal, too.

What do you mean by "whole package"?
I think my cruise cost is high ($1,035 per day for five people or $207 per day per person) because we are traveling during peak. I have to be willing to take my children out of school to do otherwise.

Taking kids from school or not is a personal decision, but you already know the answer is not to travel peak. By "whole package" I mean the cruise is usually all-expense-necessary in one bill. It's a little harder with 5, too, of course.
Ah, I see what you mean now. Yes. We will be paying for a lot that we probably won't use, most of us won't really eat enough to cover that portion of the cost, and there will be lots of activities on the ship that we likely won't benefit from.
I am looking forward to NOT having to plan anything. Not having to bring snacks, or find affordable dining or even look for cheaper ways to see stuff. I plan to fully take advantage of paying the one price, getting on the plane and just showing up.
If I could back time up a few months I think I would have figured out a way to take my 2nd grader out of school and gone off peak. Live and learn I guess.

Le Poisson

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2017, 09:54:58 AM »
Ours vary widely.

A week of camping in a national park ran $800. A week in Cuba was around $3500. We just got back from 2 weeks in Atlanta/ Savannah /Myrtle Beach and it ran just over $2000. A week long canoe trip up north is under $300.


nick663

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2017, 10:03:01 AM »
We budget $2400/year for vacations which usually gets us a 1 week, fly away vacation along with a 4-7 day summer road trip (or two).  That budget has been enough so far although we do use some airline miles and hotel rewards from promotional offers/work travel that allow us to travel like we have a higher budget than the dollars show.

This is for the 2 of us with no kids.

BeanCounter

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2017, 05:13:53 PM »
Ours vary widely.

A week of camping in a national park ran $800. A week in Cuba was around $3500. We just got back from 2 weeks in Atlanta/ Savannah /Myrtle Beach and it ran just over $2000. A week long canoe trip up north is under $300.
Oh! Cuba is exactly what got us talking about a cruise. We were originally planning to take a cruise there as Mom has it on her list, but the ship isn't a good fit for us so we're doing the Virgin Islands. I'm hoping I can find a way for just her and I to go to Cuba.
Savannah is where we went for our first anniversary, and one of my favorite places of all time. I prefer Hilton Head to Myrtle. Hopefully you found a nice spot there though.

Le Poisson

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2017, 09:04:03 PM »
Cuba is a cheap destination from Canada (Not sure where you are) - You can often find deals on www.tripcentral.ca (prices are in Canadian Dollars) - we went for three years back-to-back and hit lower end hotels for around $700 - 800 pp. The last time we went conditions had deteriorated considerably at the hotel, and we decided that we'd not be back.

We cruised fairly cheap with Carnival, and now get offers all the time. I should check if there is a referral bonus. Maybe I can refer you if there is. In any case, the cruise was great for us as the kids could all have thier own fun time (we had toddlers and a teen at the time) and we only insisted that the family be together for breakfast, dinner, shore excursions, and after 10:00 PM (teen!). Everyone LOVED it. FWIW - we didn't pay for any of the shore excursions we went on. Instead we read up on the destinations and put together our own. We had a blast.

We have also cruised in the Med, but it was on my in-laws' budget. No idea what it cost. It was really nice.

We really enjoyed Myrtle - we were there the week before spring break, and it was great. For this trip we booked hotels on Airmiles and Groupon deals. Most nights were around $35 - $50.


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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2017, 09:39:55 PM »
I have penciled in $2600 USD ($3500 CAD) for yearly travel.  Maybe $300-400 of that gets used on gas to see my inlaws. Since having kids, it seems every other year that's the only "travel" we do.

Last year was a no-travel year, so this year I'm looking for the mythical unicorn vacation that will meet a pretty picky requirements list.  I'm looking up to ~$4500 USD.  I don't know if I'll find the right thing but if I do, I'm going to take a deep breath and just spend the money.  If it's the right vacation it will be buying things I'm lucky to get for just money (happy times, happy memories, strengthened familial relationships, relaxation). 

From your mom's health situation it sounds like the cruise is one of very few choices that will fit the bill for what your collective wants and needs.  If you're open to it you could start a thread asking for other suggestions or advice on how to reduce the cost.  But if this may be your family's last holiday with your mom you need to definitely ask yourself if you value the money more than the opportunity.

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2017, 11:06:33 PM »
I just checked, and since April of 2013, we've spent $4629.46 on vacations.

I started travel hacking with credit card rewards a year ago, and in the last 6 months have been able to start applying some of the rewards. Im comfortable with ~1200 out of pocket per year.

We are a family of 4, my kids are 9 and 13. We just returned from an 8 day trip to Arizona. We rented a car, visited multiple national parks and monuments, stayed 3 nights in hotels, and 4 at a friends house.

Two years ago I took the kids to Seattle and Portland to visit family for a week, no hotels (crashed at friends/family) but we did rent a car.

Obviously, not lavish, but our priority is saving as we neglected that for a long time. If we had means, Id love to travel more, but like others mentioned, would rather spend some time looking for deals and compromising on luxuries to make the dollars go further towards activities and experiences.

mamagoose

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2017, 11:37:36 PM »
We budget $250/month for a family of three. It makes us get creative and explore local options first (we already explored a lot before becoming parents) & are not the type to bring our toddler on international vacations. That said, we acknowledge this is our short term travel budget and when we reach FI in a few years (and kid is older) we are removing the lid on that budget and planning to celebrate with an extended vacation to Hawaii and Australia for a summer.

researcher1

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #28 on: April 24, 2017, 07:11:55 AM »
We just got back from 2 weeks in Atlanta/ Savannah /Myrtle Beach and it ran just over $2000.

Could you please detail how you spent only $2000 vacationing in Atlanta, Savannah and Myrtle Beach for 14 days?

How many people are in your party?
What types of lodging did you stay in?
What types of activities did you partake in?

nereo

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #29 on: April 24, 2017, 07:42:52 AM »
We just got back from 2 weeks in Atlanta/ Savannah /Myrtle Beach and it ran just over $2000.

Could you please detail how you spent only $2000 vacationing in Atlanta, Savannah and Myrtle Beach for 14 days?

How many people are in your party?
What types of lodging did you stay in?
What types of activities did you partake in?

Can't speak specifically about Prospector's trip, but we'd vacation in the Outer Banks for 2 weeks for a similar amount; there are loads of rentals available and we were always able to find a 3+ bedroom house to rent offseason for <$600/week.  We cooked most meals at the rental (so we considered food a wash, since we'd be doing that anyway) and would enjoy a few meals out and some other low-cost activities (mini-golf, beach fishing, hiking and bird watching).
This doesn't work very well during peak-season, but its' great if you can go offseason or during the 'shoulders' of the season.

Another idea (not mentioned here) is to rent out your home on BnB while you are gone. In our current locale we could probably rent out our apartment for more than what a nice off-season beach rental would cost. Depends a lot on where you live but for us we could make as much renting out our place as we'd pay to stay somewhere else.

Le Poisson

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2017, 08:14:50 AM »
We just got back from 2 weeks in Atlanta/ Savannah /Myrtle Beach and it ran just over $2000.

Could you please detail how you spent only $2000 vacationing in Atlanta, Savannah and Myrtle Beach for 14 days?

How many people are in your party?
What types of lodging did you stay in?
What types of activities did you partake in?

No Trouble researcher.
We are a family of 4 with a 6 yr old and a 9 yr old.
We drove down from Toronto

We keep a plug-in cooler in the van and bring along road food, so no cost for food on the driving portions of the trip. We booked hotels that included breakfast, and usually skipped lunch. Portions in the US are larger than we are used to, so any extra food goes in the cooler, and we usually find that a dinner out lasts us for two meals. We do not buy alcohol at restaurants, but will get a bottle of wine (or rum) at a package store and enjoy a drink on our balcony after dinner. Also we are big fans of water with dinner (even at home) so our meals out do not usually include drinks.

By Using a combination of Airmiles, BMO Rewards Points and Groupon deals, we were able to keep our hotels under $50 per night. We stayed for 11 nights - accommodation is about $550

Day 1: drove Toronto to Ring Gold GA - Stayed at a Holiday Inn - AAA discount - $130 for the room. (Not prebooked - this was a how far can we get before we need sleep day.)

Day 2 - 4: Atlanta

In Atlanta we toured World of Coke, Fernbank Museum, and the Zoo - these were our most expensive outings. Each was about $100 for the family - $300. We prebought tickets and compared the citypass to online priced and hunted for coupons. Turned out we were able to beat citypass by a wide margin since we weren't interested in all the venues on the pass, and didn't care for add-ons like iMAX movies that we can get locally anyways.

Our Atlanta Accommodations were at Stone Mountain Inn for 2 nights - bought through Groupon. Our first day was spent hiking the mountain and enjoying the park after a long drive.

Day 5: Macon Ga

We spent one night in Macon at the world's crappiest no-tell motel. It was gross. And the pool was closed. Walked around town, but there was nothing there to do. We had ice cream. I got boiled peanuts.

Day 6-8: Savannah

In Savannah we stayed at a Best Western with a pool for 2 nights. When the kids got tired of walking they swam. We bought a walking tour book for $5, and paid to tour Mercer house and Davenport house. Mercer house cost us $45, and Davenport was around $50. - We'll say $100 for house tours. Meals included a dinner at a Korean BBQ (pricey!) and a chicken dinner from a take counter at a downtown grocery store that cost us about $20 and lasted for three meals. They ran out of sides so doubled our meal portions on everything and gave us macaroni salad instead of a side. We ate a LOT of chicken tenders.

We visited Tybee for a day. Free!! The beach was fun! I got Boiled peanuts. Toured Fort Pulaski - Free! Kids loved hearing about slaves escaping - asked loads of UGRR questions. Dinner was Fish Tacos at a restaurant near the beach - Momma had wine and I had a beer. It was so beachy we had to. Dinner was $60 - Pricey!

Day 8 - 10 Myrtle beach

Drove to Myrtle beach and stayed at Doubletree (Hilton) for 2 nights - no breakfast - had breakfast at Shoneys. It was bad and expensive. Vowed not to do that again. Played at beach all day. Had a round of minigolf. Cost us $60 to play golf. Momma won by 1 stroke. I think she cheated. Went to a buffet for dinner, skipped the $30 per plate all-you-can option and had the $15 per plate a-la-carte menu instead, kids meals were $6.50. Still brought home leftovers.

Day 11 Still Myrtle beach
Moved to the hotel next door with waterslides (Crown Reef Resort) - unit came with a kitchenette. Bought food at WalMart and cooked in unit. Corn on the cob, Pork tenderloins and Pillsbury rolls! Baked goods for breakfast! Yum - real food not laced with salt and sugar!! Spent ENTIRE DAY on waterslides/lazy river/pool/hot tubs. Bought boiled peanuts.

Day 12 Drove home.
Stopped on the way and got hermit crabs for the kids. Also gave each kid $5 to get a souvenir. Bought boiled peanuts. Got home at 04h00.

BTW - if anyone can tell me where in Canada you can get peanuts to make boiled peanuts, I'll be forever indebted to you. I think I may have a chance at Picards, but I'm not sure what to ask for.



« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 08:52:36 AM by Prospector »

nereo

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #31 on: April 24, 2017, 08:25:14 AM »
Quote
BTW - if anyone can tell me where in Canada you can get peanuts to make boiled peanuts, I'll be forever indebted to you. I think I may have a chance at Picards, but I'm not sure what to ask for.

As a boy who grew up in Virginia now living in Canada, I want to know this too....

boarder42

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2017, 08:26:28 AM »
Travel Hack
Travel Hack
Travel Hack

And when you get done

Travel Hack some more. 

2016 for 2 people here is what we spent and what we did

Hawaii - 10 days 1k total cost
first class flights - free
2 nights grand hyatt maui - free
2 nights sheraton maui - free
1 night airbnb hana - 150
5 nights Grand wailea - free
Jeep rental car - free
scuba was the expensive part 400
whale watch - 60
sunset dinner cruise with booze 120

European cruise 12 days plus 2 nights in venice - 1500.
booked cruise thru super deal - balcony cabin with booze and specialty dinners 2800 - travel hacked this down to 800 real cost
excursions booked off ship(dont book the ship excursions off ship is much cheaper) 500
Hotel - free
flights - free
various other spending ran that up to 1500

3 nights New orleans - free
flights free
lodging with a friend


3 nights camping at state park - 150 including gas roundtrip

3 nights las vegas 200 bucks
rental car 80
various things 120
hotel free
flights free

chicago 3 nights - 500
family trip didnt have control over spending here as much as i'd have liked.

researcher1

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2017, 08:54:49 AM »
We are a family of 4 with a 6 yr old and a 9 yr old.
We drove down from Toronto
We keep a plug-in cooler in the van and bring along road food, so no cost for food on the driving portions of the trip.
We usually skipped lunch.
By Using a combination of Airmiles, BMO Rewards Points and Groupon deals
We spent one night in Macon at the world's crappiest no-tell motel. It was gross.

This is why it is extremely unhelpful to post supposed vacation expenses without providing any details.
- You have 2 active, growing, young children...yet you "usually skipped lunch"???  That is certainly an interesting way to save money.
- You drove 2500+ miles during your trip from Toronto, but no fuel costs?
- You say "no cost for food on the driving portions," but you obviously spent money buying the food you ate.
- Staying in the world's crappiest hotel doesn't sound like a vacation to me.

And the most misleading part is that miles & rewards points were used for your hotels. 
Those points/miles have monetary value and should be added to the total cost of your trip.

For example, I use my credit cards rewards every month as a statement credit, to reduce my payment owed. 
- Instead, I could save those points for 5-10 years, then take a luxury 2 week vacation for "FREE."
- Yet that would be misleading and inaccurate, as that "free" vacation caused me to pay an extra ~$5000 from unused statement credits.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 08:57:49 AM by researcher1 »

Le Poisson

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2017, 09:09:19 AM »
We are a family of 4 with a 6 yr old and a 9 yr old.
We drove down from Toronto
We keep a plug-in cooler in the van and bring along road food, so no cost for food on the driving portions of the trip.
We usually skipped lunch.
By Using a combination of Airmiles, BMO Rewards Points and Groupon deals
We spent one night in Macon at the world's crappiest no-tell motel. It was gross.

This is why it is extremely unhelpful to post supposed vacation expenses without providing any details.
- You have 2 active, growing, young children...yet you "usually skipped lunch"???  That is certainly an interesting way to save money.
- You drove 2500+ miles during your trip from Toronto, but no fuel costs?
- You say "no cost for food on the driving portions," but you obviously spent money buying the food you ate.
- Staying in the world's crappiest hotel doesn't sound like a vacation to me.

And the most misleading part is that miles & rewards points were used for your hotels. 
Those points/miles have monetary value and should be added to the total cost of your trip.

For example, I use my credit cards rewards every month as a statement credit, to reduce my payment owed. 
- Instead, I could save those points for 5-10 years, then take a luxury 2 week vacation for "FREE."
- Yet that would be misleading and inaccurate, as that "free" vacation caused me to pay an extra ~$5000 from unused statement credits.

Thanks for challenging my post. It is unfortunate that you reject my answer categorically. I hope it was helpful to those who understand math. I am pleased that your psychic powers let you know what is best for my kids, what time we ate breakfast, and how much snacking took place through the day. I am equally impressed that you know the source of my airmiles and how much they cost me - whether through personal spending, business accounts, or travel hacking.

It would be rude of me to quote George Carlin here, so I won't.

You are a troll, I will not entertain your responses.

BeanCounter

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2017, 09:34:43 AM »
Prospector,
I really appreciate your detailed response. The whole reason I started the thread was to get lots of opinions on different ways to travel and associated costs.

FWIW- we just returned from a long weekend in Chicago where despite lots of opportunity, my four year old refused to eat. Car snacks for him would have been better!

*he did manage to put down a ridiculously overpriced milkshake at Ghirardelli though.

researcher1

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2017, 09:51:37 AM »
You are a troll, I will not entertain your responses.

Not sure why you think I am a troll.

My only point was that posting about a $2000 2 week long vacation is only helpful if you provide the additional information I asked about. 
It provides necessary context to your original post.

The $2000 figure makes more sense now that I know your family skipped daily meals, stayed at the world's worst hotel, and used credit card points/miles to pay for lodging.


boarder42

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2017, 10:03:16 AM »
We are a family of 4 with a 6 yr old and a 9 yr old.
We drove down from Toronto
We keep a plug-in cooler in the van and bring along road food, so no cost for food on the driving portions of the trip.
We usually skipped lunch.
By Using a combination of Airmiles, BMO Rewards Points and Groupon deals
We spent one night in Macon at the world's crappiest no-tell motel. It was gross.

This is why it is extremely unhelpful to post supposed vacation expenses without providing any details.
- You have 2 active, growing, young children...yet you "usually skipped lunch"???  That is certainly an interesting way to save money.
- You drove 2500+ miles during your trip from Toronto, but no fuel costs?
- You say "no cost for food on the driving portions," but you obviously spent money buying the food you ate.
- Staying in the world's crappiest hotel doesn't sound like a vacation to me.

And the most misleading part is that miles & rewards points were used for your hotels. 
Those points/miles have monetary value and should be added to the total cost of your trip.

For example, I use my credit cards rewards every month as a statement credit, to reduce my payment owed. 
- Instead, I could save those points for 5-10 years, then take a luxury 2 week vacation for "FREE."
- Yet that would be misleading and inaccurate, as that "free" vacation caused me to pay an extra ~$5000 from unused statement credits.

on going credit card rewards are not how you use credit cards to create a free vacation.  sign up bonuses are how you use credit cards to make a free vacation. 

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #38 on: April 24, 2017, 10:29:06 AM »
Being from Georgia, it's funny to read the places that you were able to get your hands on some Boiled peanuts (at the beach??!).
While this is a 'generally southern' thing, to me there is a nuance to it that it is more an 'Appalachian' thing. Growing up boiled peanuts were always associated with the mountains, windy roads, little roadside farmer stands, and cooler temps. Not sure why. I think of getting boiled peanuts only when I am in the North Georgia Mountains, (or mountainous parts of tennessee, north carolina, virginia etc. for that matter.)

Naturally, if you love them you should partake in them wherever you can :)
And honestly I don't know if they are made any 'better' in the mountain towns than anywhere else.
Glad you were able to explore the area!

A few more notes:
agreed, there is very little 'to do' in Macon, despite it being a pretty large city for the state.

To Researcher, why so harsh? The crappy hotel they stayed in sounds like it was a surprise..it seems safe to assume they were shooting for something on the lower end of the budget, but of course they weren't trying to stay at the world's crappiest hotel. Then you show up and realize the place you booked sucks.

okits

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #39 on: April 24, 2017, 12:04:57 PM »
Thanks for the break down, Prospector.  It helps to see what goes into the total.

I think of travel costs as what one pays out of pocket (sure, you could have saved those Air Miles to spend on a kitchen appliance, so technically they had an opportunity cost).  Opportunity cost is clear with something as fungible as loyalty points from a really flexible program (like when you can redeem for travel, merchandise, or gift cards).  Less clear is stuff like freebies or discounts won as prizes (did you have to spend time or money towards winning them?), employee discounts (how much are you really saving if you could be earning more working elsewhere?), and credit card bonuses or rewards (they have an opportunity cost but you got them for free, so how do you show the value of that gain?)

Similarly, we normally spend $X on groceries, $Y on eating out, and $Z on entertainment, so on vacation do those amounts count as vacation/additional expenses given that we'd have spent them in the normal course of our everyday lives, anyhow?

researcher1, you launched into criticism and pointing out negatives without acknowledging the time and effort Prospector took to write a lengthy response to your request.  You might not like his accounting, but your rudeness and combativeness suggests you want to argue, not share, learn and discuss.

catccc

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #40 on: April 24, 2017, 12:40:53 PM »
We spend $$ on vacations, and we do it w/o guilt.  FI is $1.2M, we are currently at $762K (close to OP's stats, it seems?)  We have two kids, ages 5 & 8.  We just started travel hacking and have a trip (no kids) planned for HI for the fall (tickets for $11 in taxes only!), and we'll use points we are earning now for future vacations.  But our other recent (last few years) big vacation spending has looked like this:

A week at Turks & Caicos, $5,874
$5,186 for 4 flights and 6 nights hotel at beach front resort (maybe $500/night?)
$244 for tips, bag fees (we pack light, but checked a suitcase of groceries- food is very expensive there), taxis, and 1 day car rental
$242 groceries
$202 restaurants

A week at Disney, $3,985
$3,057 for 6 nights in-park resort, 5 day park tickets, and meal plan.  (believe me, we made the meal plan worth it.  $700 of the $3K)
$928 for flights for 4

A week split between London & Paris, $3,801
$3,094 for flights for 4 (to from US and from London to Paris) and 6 nights at 4 star hotels (they were nice!  a far cry from the hostels DH and I used to visit.)
$707 meals, admission activities, tickets, etc.

We also do smaller vacations more locally, and visit family on the opposite coast, which doesn't cost a ton because we have a free place to stay.

Road trips to destinations a couple hours away, a sweet Air BNB, camping, etc.  I like little getaways.

Really looking forward to more travel hacking in the future.  DH and I currently have about 272K chase reward points between the two of us, plus another 85K due in a couple months.  These points should help us out with some nice vacations, for sure!


farmecologist

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #41 on: April 24, 2017, 01:00:56 PM »
Quote
What kind of vacation is this? This wouldn't even get us airfare to, well, pretty much anywhere for 2 people.  $300 is extraordinarily cheap to fly anywhere.
If we drive somewhere for the week, this would barely cover 5 nights in a hotel, much less anything else.

I mean, somebody has to give a counterpoint to the half-year's-budget vacations on here...

I drive a ~30mpg car on road trips, and don't fly whenever I can avoid it. Book hotels a little further from the Biggest Thing In Town™ or AirBnB instead of rent a hotel, or vacation places with hotels that don't charge tourist-trap prices, or stay with friends. Free museums from Bank of America, free hiking from the US Gov, free community events everywhere. Beaches aren't hard to find, just cheaper if they're not in the Bahamas. Conventions are cheap and a lot of fun if you're not trying to buy everything, and nobody wants to book a hotel more than 1 mile from the place, usually.  If you want to drink, bring a couple cases of beer.

I did a trip to Utah a couple years ago in a standard-name hotel that charged like 40-50 or something a night, four or five days, 10 minutes from rolling canyons and endless mountain trails (2 people). Visited museums and saw the canyons and spent time with friends. The same friends did Hawaii on three digits for around four days with a family of three, AirBnB and careful airfare a year or two ago.

Cruises can be had for relatively low prices if people want to buy a "whole package." You can get them cheaper if you bother to buy stock in Carribean or Royal, too.

We did a road trip to Utah and northern Arizona last year.  Took our Prius so obviously got by cheap on fuel costs.   Extremely inexpensive hotels/motels...even in high season ( $40-$50 ).  I looked into AirBnB but on this trip the hotels/motels were quite a bit cheaper than that.  Was also able to take advantage of a choicehotels points promotion and because of that we have enough points banked for 3-4 nights for our road trip this summer.   Did mostly hiking in park areas and such.  Awesome time.

As for cruising, look for cruise discounters like vacationstogo.com, etc... Also, look for repositioning cruises - some incredible deals there...however, you will be at sea longer than a normal cruise.  Repositioning cruises also often visit locations that are seldom visited by 'normal' cruise ship routes.   


researcher1

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #42 on: April 24, 2017, 01:07:29 PM »
researcher1, you launched into criticism and pointing out negatives without acknowledging the time and effort Prospector took to write a lengthy response to your request.  You might not like his accounting, but your rudeness and combativeness suggests you want to argue, not share, learn and discuss.
You are right.  I should have used gentler wording as to ensure I didn't hurt anyone's feelings.
However, I routinely see these unusually low vacation costs without any explanation or detail.  I had predicted aspects of Prospector's response before he posted, which is why seems as though I immediately "launched into criticism."

My overriding point is that the OP wanted to get a feel for how much people spend on vacation....
 
As you point out, if someone has $5000 worth of credit card points, they can choose to spend those dollars on vacation, a kitchen appliance, or whatever. 
But it is misleading to say I took a 2 week vacation and only spend $100, without explaining that I also used $5000 worth of CC points (that could have been used to pay other bills).

How is that helpful for anyone?

nereo

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #43 on: April 24, 2017, 01:22:06 PM »
Thanks for the break down, Prospector.  It helps to see what goes into the total.
...
Similarly, we normally spend $X on groceries, $Y on eating out, and $Z on entertainment, so on vacation do those amounts count as vacation/additional expenses given that we'd have spent them in the normal course of our everyday lives, anyhow?
...

Personally, I discount whatever we'd normally spend while not on vacation.  For example, our food budget is ~$75-100/week.  If we spend $150 while on a week long vacation it's at most $75 more than we would have spent. YMMV

deborah

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #44 on: April 24, 2017, 04:11:47 PM »
I have been on vacations when I spent less than I normally do at home. Road trips where I camped or stayed in cheap or expensive places as the whim took me, and was away for a month. I have also been on very expensive vacations. You need to decide what sort of vacation you want, and go for it. I usually do two months of international travel a year, and two months of domestic. The domestic costs almost nothing, and allows me to appreciate this "wide brown land" - which is the same size as the contiguous US. International is always very expensive, as we are at the end of everywhere and plane trips cost an enormous amount. That's why I travel for two months - it makes it worth the 28 - 54 (so far the longest) hours it takes to get home by plane.

mm1970

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #45 on: April 24, 2017, 06:23:04 PM »
Varies a lot by the year.

This year, $5900
Trip 1: short weekend away, Legoland, 3 nights/ 3 days: $1500
Trip 2: four days for spring break: $800 (gas and 4 nights in a cabin) (could have been worse, we didn't ski!)
Trip 3: weeklong trip involving air fare, rental car, hotels: $3600

When we fly to visit family, it's usually $2500+ (four cross country plane tix, rental car)
A week in Hawaii, which we've never done with all four, is $4k to 5k

Some years we travel more than others.  Last year was pretty cheap because we were sick a lot.  About every 4 years, my husband has enough miles for us to fly for free on our every-two-years trip home.

ElleFiji

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #46 on: April 24, 2017, 07:48:30 PM »
Right now my vacation costs are for one. I budget about $250/year for camping, including travel, $500-2500 in years that I do a non camping vacation, and food and souvenir money for when I go to a cottage with family.

I also mustache math my way into extra vacation travel by counting some things as work trips.

I appreciate all of the responses, including travel/points hacking. One of the benefits of mustache math is that we can do as much creative accounting as we want to optimise lifestyle and happiness. I don't do either, because currently I don't have the energy, but I love seeing the options. Like that trade lines thread. I won't do it, but I like that people share what works for them.

I think working in a side gig could be another future option for travel, and being able to write it off as a blog business expense.

Capt j-rod

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #47 on: April 24, 2017, 07:51:41 PM »
Wow! I'm a hardcore cheap ass! I rebuilt a camper four years ago... Total cost...$3500. We usually vacation 4-5 weeks a year. It usually costs between $500-750 per week. Our food, drinks, and stuff from home comes with us, so it really only costs us money if we decide to eat out. Campsites in state parks are $30-$40 per night. The bikes come with us and we generally ride those around. It ain't the holiday inn, but the kids love it. I bring the canoe on the roof and we usually fish and take it out. My truck is what I work out of, so I'm fortunate to have a tow vehicle. I can't do hotels with all the bed bugs and lack of cleanliness. It makes my skin crawl. I have determined that I am the last Clark W. Griswold dad in America! I have now literally made money with my camper from the travel savings and I can sell it for more than I have in it.

FLBiker

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #48 on: April 25, 2017, 06:52:11 AM »
on going credit card rewards are not how you use credit cards to create a free vacation.  sign up bonuses are how you use credit cards to make a free vacation.

+1000

We've been doing this for years, and I can't remember the last time we paid for a flight.  For the past year or so, we've had a SW companion pass (good through Dec of this year) which has been very nice.  And with Ultimate Rewards and an IHG card, we've gotten some free hotel rooms, too.  It's tightened up a little with Chase's 5/24 rule, but it is still a very good way to get free flights.

All that being said, I'm certainly willing to spend some money on vacations as DD gets older.  In fact, I'm considering switching from my current admin job to 9 month instructor in 4 years or so (she's 2), which would be a pay cut of about $40K but would give me much more time off (which we'd use to travel).  We'll see.

StarBright

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Re: Family Vacation Budget?
« Reply #49 on: April 25, 2017, 08:02:53 AM »
We're at 4-7k a year for a family of four.

We are locked into travelling peak because DH's job is in education. Most of the cost is just airfare as we fly cross country to visit family twice a year.

Years that we are closer to 7k are years when we take an actual fun vacation (and don't just visit family at holidays):)