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Travel budget for FIRE
Old 10-24-2014, 08:53 PM   #1
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Travel budget for FIRE

Suggestions from leisure travelers out there. I want to budget my retirement numbers for travel. We travel at a 3 star level. Just wondering what people use for planning?
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Old 10-24-2014, 09:16 PM   #2
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I picked a number that I felt would cover one big and several small trips ($10K). I decreased it to $8K in order to meet my overall budget. In the end I spent approximately $10K but saved on other categories, so it all worked out in the end. When I buy groceries and gas on a trip, I count that as Vacation, not Groceries and Gas.

When my car loan is paid off, I may increase my Travel budget. That will certainly need to happen if I am to visit Australia and New Zealand!
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Old 10-24-2014, 10:46 PM   #3
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This answer depends very heavily on the individual. Even the meaning of 3 stars could vary wildly.

Look at your past spending and try to extrapolate from there. How much do you spend on average in a low cost area, mid cost etc. And how much more do you want to travel in retirement & then see what you can afford given your circumstances. Maybe you'll decide to cut back some place to be able to travel more.

Our travel budget varies wildly from year to year, but we do not to let it bust our annual budget.
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Old 10-25-2014, 05:58 AM   #4
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Hi World,
Budgeting $12K. Overspent that last year in Italy & w/e in Boston (flew), but didn't spend that much this year in Ireland & w/e in Kansas City (drove).

p.s. If you like 2 potato dishes, steamed carrots & turnips, with over-cooked meat for every evening meal, then you'll love Ireland!
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Old 10-25-2014, 07:54 AM   #5
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I picked a number that I felt would cover one big and several small trips ($10K). I decreased it to $8K in order to meet my overall budget. In the end I spent approximately $10K but saved on other categories, so it all worked out in the end...
Same here. We budget $10K for one large international trip and two smaller domestic trips. One year into ER and we're a little above that, but not by much. We did a trans-Atlantic cruise to Spain, France, and Italy, with 4 extra days in Rome. Plus two domestic flights to visit relatives and do some site-seeing, and one rather expensive 3-day weekend at one of our favorite get-aways.
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:02 AM   #6
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I picked a number that I felt would cover one big and several small trips
That's our method, too. The numbers vary from year to year, depending on where we want to go, but it's pretty easy to estimate the cost of the next big trip, based on internet research, and the domestic trips are simple based on prior years' experience.

We have an overall budget number for the year, so the vacation travel is just one component of that. If there is a big expense in another category (planned new car, household repair, etc.) then the vacation travel number will be smaller. Otherwise, we max it out in order to enjoy ourselves more (such as with better hotels).
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Old 10-25-2014, 08:24 AM   #7
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My mom, in her mid eighties, gave me some great advice:

Do your big ticket international traveling while you're still working.

Her logic and experience is that when your revenue stream becomes fixed you won't want to drop $10-$14K on France, Italy, etc. We are not yet retired and we went to Paris last June for two weeks for our anniversary, that was $12K doing it reasonable. Then my son wanted us to visit him during High Season in Australia for two weeks over the holidays. Wow, about $13K and that was doing it cheap. We were on the fence about going and that's when my mom gave me this great advice.

So, our plan is to do a few more big ticket vacations to places far away and expensive while we are still working and then during retirement do more modest (and easier) N & S American vacations. I have travelled all my adult career so I know how to get the best value but the popular places are expensive no matter what. My bucket list is short but my wife still wants to see the world. If you can put up with tour groups (we can't) it is a lot cheaper.

I think the one benefit of waiting for certain vacations during retirement is you can time your vacations to the shoulder seasons so you aren't paying through the nose like we had to during High Season, which is also too crowded. We love road trips and can then take the two dogs. So in sum, I have $8-10K for vacations per year in our retirement spreadsheets.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:00 AM   #8
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I'm not sure mom was entirely right Cheesehead. The really wonderful thing about traveling after FIRE is that you can linger, bringing down the cost per day of actually getting to your destination and back. Lodging costs per day can also drop by doing long term rentals via VRBO or airbnb.

Anyhow, like many here, we managed to double our annual travel budget by making cuts elsewhere in our budget. We started with $10,000, but doubled it to $20,000 by reducing our grocery budget (out went convenience foods, in came homecooking), getting rid of cable and our landline, raising our various insurance policy deductibles, and spreading out things like haircuts and cleaning services a couple of additional weeks a year. Amazing how quickly the savings from these changes added up.

We plan on upping it again when social security starts rolling in a few years from now.

Of all the things we've spent money on over our lifetime, travel is the one outlay we have never, ever regretted.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:23 AM   #9
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My original budget was done in 2005. Had $5K per year, not including auto expenses. But I had a 10% contingency on top of all categories. Have not done a budget since so hard to tell now.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:26 AM   #10
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Hi World,
Budgeting $12K. Overspent that last year in Italy & w/e in Boston (flew), but didn't spend that much this year in Ireland & w/e in Kansas City (drove).

p.s. If you like 2 potato dishes, steamed carrots & turnips, with over-cooked meat for every evening meal, then you'll love Ireland!
You must have skipped the west coast. Some of the best seafood around. Dublin has a lot of international cuisine so you aren't forced to eat the standard Irish meal.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:37 AM   #11
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I do not have a fixed budget for travel. After essentials like utilities, insurance, food, etc..., I have more than $30-40K left for discretionary (leisure) or non-recurrent spending such as home maintenance and upgrade, or car replacement.

So, if in one year I spend a lot for one category, I reduce the others.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:38 AM   #12
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We have 8k for non-international years. We'll do international trips every 3-4 years.
But we travel with 2 kids - so the airfare costs alone are huge.

This next summer will be our "blow the wad" trip. Family of 4 to Europe for $25k. It may creep up because airfare is staying stubbornly above $1500/person and I budgeted $1200/person. I've been pricing train, vrbo options, etc. 8-9 weeks, travel by train and ferry.

This past year was pretty typical for a non-Europe trip. 1 week in Santa Barbara with a bigger group - since it was a bigger group - we rented a beautiful historic 5 bedroom place and split the expenses. (Truly fabulous - like out of a movie like Enchanted April). That was in spring. Towards the end of summer we did 4 nights in Sequoia Nat'l park. It helps that we live in a vacation destination and take full advantage of the beach about 8 months a year.
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Old 10-25-2014, 01:38 PM   #13
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I am targeting $5K for travel and $5K for leisure for a $2M retirement portfolio. We plan to visit at least one new country every year.
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Old 10-25-2014, 02:09 PM   #14
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I wonder what my sister and BIL's travel budget is....

Just for 2014 they have been on 2 cruises (Panama Canal and Bermuda) and have a 3rd one planned for late November to the southern Caribbean. They also vacationed in Cancun and Palm Desert, CA. They had non-vacation trips to see family in Atlanta (3 times including a wedding), Knoxville, Chicago and Wash DC. On cruises they've always gotten a stateroom with a balcony but from now on they decided to go with a suite with a balcony for the extra room and more normal sized bathroom.

Their BIG trip this year was Spain and Portugal. Coming up for 2015 is another trip to Cancun, a vacation to Phoenix and New Mexico, another vacation to Florida and a cruise from Southampton, England to the Mediterranean.

They also vacationed in Hilton Head, SC a few weeks ago. They rented a 2 bedroom condo/villa and invited DH and I to come and stay in the extra bedroom. We had a FANTASTIC time! The place is gorgeous and about 1/2 mile from the beach with easy access. The whole trip cost DH and I $682 and that included us treating for an expensive dinner out for the 4 of us.

I don't have large vacation and travel needs, but a trip to the beach every now and then really feels wonderful.

OTOH my sister and BIL don't just travel extensively, to me, they travel excessively. JMHO. I'm genuinely happy for them but I don't know how they do it!

They also have 2 Starwood timeshares, one week in Hawaii and either 1 or 2 weeks in Cancun. They try to do Hawaii every other year and trade the points for somewhere else on the other year.
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Old 10-25-2014, 02:54 PM   #15
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I wonder what my sister and BIL's travel budget is....

Just for 2014 they have been on 2 cruises (Panama Canal and Bermuda) and have a 3rd one planned for late November to the southern Caribbean. They also vacationed in Cancun and Palm Desert, CA. They had non-vacation trips to see family in Atlanta (3 times including a wedding), Knoxville, Chicago and Wash DC. On cruises they've always gotten a stateroom with a balcony but from now on they decided to go with a suite with a balcony for the extra room and more normal sized bathroom.

Their BIG trip this year was Spain and Portugal. Coming up for 2015 is another trip to Cancun, a vacation to Phoenix and New Mexico, another vacation to Florida and a cruise from Southampton, England to the Mediterranean.

They also vacationed in Hilton Head, SC a few weeks ago. They rented a 2 bedroom condo/villa and invited DH and I to come and stay in the extra bedroom. We had a FANTASTIC time! The place is gorgeous and about 1/2 mile from the beach with easy access. The whole trip cost DH and I $682 and that included us treating for an expensive dinner out for the 4 of us.

I don't have large vacation and travel needs, but a trip to the beach every now and then really feels wonderful.

OTOH my sister and BIL don't just travel extensively, to me, they travel excessively. JMHO. I'm genuinely happy for them but I don't know how they do it!

They also have 2 Starwood timeshares, one week in Hawaii and either 1 or 2 weeks in Cancun. They try to do Hawaii every other year and trade the points for somewhere else on the other year.
Hopefully, DH and I will grow up to be just like them.

Life is short. Really, really short. Kudos to them for pursuing what appears to be their grand passion. I doubt they will regret any of their adventuring at the end of their lives.
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Old 10-25-2014, 03:01 PM   #16
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The last time DH and I were on vacation was 3 years ago. We went "all the way" to Orlando (about 2 hrs by car). We spent $2k for 4 days (we stayed in one of the one of the nicer hotels on the Disney property). Before that we went on a 7 day Caribbean Cruise. I think that was 6 years ago. I think we spent $3k on that one (we had a balcony room).

I'm budgeting $5k / year for travel. I also have $70k set aside for 4 International Trips; I am hoping to do one per year the first 4 years of DH's retirement (starting in 2020).

Part of me thinks I'd like to travel more in retirement, but that would mean w*rking longer and since we're not big on vacations anyway I figured "why w*rk ?"
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Old 10-25-2014, 03:20 PM   #17
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It looks like we'll be fortunate enough to have a fair amount of room in our budget to travel when I retire. I would do a lot of it but it's not DW's thing. I'll probably take some trips alone.

However, if it came to ER with little to modest travel or several OMY to ER with extensive travel. I'd take the former!
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Old 10-25-2014, 03:38 PM   #18
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Travel is the biggest single line item in my RE budget by a long shot, at least for the first decade. I want to enjoy a few more exotic trips while I am still physically able.

That being said, during my first (and only) full year of retirement, I spent nowhere near what I budgeted. I found great deals, stayed with friends at various locales, and found I didn't need to spend that much to have all the adventures I want. When I RE again in 2016, I'll keep the budget the same. Maybe I'll spend it this time.

Edited to add: Budget was $24K per year. Max spending was $10K per year.
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Old 10-25-2014, 04:04 PM   #19
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We budget 15K, but will probably increase to 20K next year. We travel about 8 - 10 weeks. This year we will have done: 4 weeks in California, 1 week in Canada, 1 week at an expensive lake house with all the kids, and we leave Monday for a 3 week roadtrip. Generally we think of the budget as covering 1 expensive 2 week, and one less expensive 3 week, and the lake house with the kids. Last year we did Italy.

I watched my family slowly give into inertia and stop traveling as they aged. It made me very sad that they had plenty of money and did nothing. So we are front loading our travel as we recognize this just happens to most people. I think once we downsize we will increase to 30K. My DH loves this house though, it will be tough to get him out of here.
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Old 10-25-2014, 04:06 PM   #20
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Oh also, we moved down to 2 star so we could travel more. We do stay in nice places in special locations - this roadtrip we leave on Monday - we will spend a few nights in New Orleans and splurged on a nice place in the french quarter. But when we are on the road we stay in Microtel, Days Inn, etc. Less than $75 a night is our budget.
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