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What you spend (per day) on travel?
Old 01-20-2012, 11:09 AM   #1
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What you spend (per day) on travel?

Travel can be fun but expensive. Whenever we go somewhere I total up everything (including dog boarding) to get a per day number. It's one way to compare expenses. Some travel numbers for 2 adults:

Road trip from home to San Diego in 2011 (1500 miles roundtrip)
Visited: Crocker Museum and capital building in Sacramento, Yosemite Valley, San Diego (DS in college, Balboa Park attractions, Sea World, etc,), Getty Museum in Santa Monica area
Cost per day: $220

Road trip to Utah Canyonlands in 2010 (2500 miles roundtrip)
Visited: Zion Natl Park, Bryce Natl Park, Capital Reef Natl Park, Arches, North Tahoe
Cost per day: $190

Europe - France & London in 2007 (24 days, on our own)
Visited: Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley
Cost per day: $380

Hawaii - in 2006 (11 days, on our own)
Visited: Hawaii (big island), Maui; stayed at Sheraton which is a bit pricey
Cost per day: $470

So you can see why we've been doing road trips while DS is in college and after the crash of 2008. They can be lots of fun and one feels a bit freer, not locked into a set itinerary. For air travel vacations the number of days divided by the plane costs can affect the total a lot.

Any insights into vacation spending you want to discuss?
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:16 AM   #2
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Some random thoughts:

- When the kids were small and we would drive to our vacation destinations, I used to budget €250/day for hotel, lunch, dinner, and gas. Haven't done that since kids went to college, but I guess DW and I probably get through almost as much, with inflation and higher expectations (we didn't often take our kids anywhere fancy to eat).

- I used to be allergic to paying for one-week vacations with a flight as I always thought that this represented poor spreading of the flight cost. (We Europeans generally have enough vacation time to take two weeks.) These days, with low-cost airlines all over Europe, a week is not too bad.

- Yesterday I booked flights, a week's all-inclusive accommodation on Gran Canaria, the airport transfer, and a three day car rental, all directly with the respective providers, in about an hour. Even five years ago I'd have had to go to a package company and pay them an unknown markup (OK, maybe they were getting a slightly better deal on the room rate). Travel agencies are dying, but tour operators are also going to have to find a specific niche in order to survive.
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Old 01-20-2012, 12:00 PM   #3
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I tend to focus on the overall cost because that's what matters budget-wise, but that's an interesting exercise. A few examples for 2 adults (based on Quicken records):

Europe (Switzerland/France) - 2011 (12 days):
$240 per day - free lodging/meals/car/entertainment, main costs are airfare (including upgrade/airport lounge) and pet sitting.

Kansas City, MO - 2011 (3 days):
$112 per day - free flight, cheap hotel, lots of free food (wedding/rehearsal dinner), lots of walking around and visiting free or cheap museums.

Road trip to Charlotte, NC - 2011 (3 days)
$92 per day - free lodging/food/entertainment, gas/gifts for the host were our main expenses.

San Francisco - 2009 (5 days):
$312 per day - free flight but we went all out on the hotel and the food.

Road trip to Southbend, IN - 2007 (4 days)
$190 per day - The hotel was our main expense (football weekend at Notre Dame). Tickets to the game were free.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:36 PM   #4
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I think some of our road trips come to $100/day.

My new idea is to drive to a city not too far away and stay at a really fancy hotel, and go to interesting restaurants. That is, avoid flying, long drives, and campsite generators, and spend the money saved on the nice hotel and good food. Think SF Fairmont and Ruth's Chris steakhouse.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
.
gas/gifts for the host...
So you did the cooking.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:43 PM   #6
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I try not to think about it.

But I do think you can logically deduct the costs for food--you're eating whether you're sitting at home or on a trip.
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Old 01-20-2012, 02:48 PM   #7
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We're currently traveling in Mexico. Got great open jaws RT tickets (Phoenix into Puerto Vallarta, returning home from Guadalajara) for $420 each. We've been in Puerto Vallarta for about a week with more beach time to go before heading inland to San Miguel de Allende and Lake Chapala. Current daily "burn rate:" $350 pesos ($27) a night for basic but comfortable hotel with TV and wi-fi in the Zona Romantica, local meals out (fixed price lunch and tacos or quesadillas with a cerveza for dinner most nights) at an average of $10 for two for lunch including tip, $8 for two for tacos and beer. Mostly walking but occasional bus trips and splurge meals and we figure $50-70 a day for the two of us.

Back home in the U.S. obviously there's no way to remotely approach such numbers. We use Priceline and Hotwire to get 2.5-3.5 star hotels for $50 or less, often eat breakfast in the room but lunch and dinner out, entertainment, gas etc. invariably puts us in the $100-150 range. We try to keep our U.S. trips short so we can spend a couple of months down here each winter.
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Old 01-20-2012, 03:10 PM   #8
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I am a destination person, so I would never drive anywhere for a trip. That being said, the places I go are nice, but I have to be able to see significant savings on a sale before I go. For example, I was always told it was way too expensive to fly to St. Thomas and stay at St. John, but thats not true if you can catch air fare sales and plan your trip around that. Get on the VRBO site, and negotiate downward, and avoid resorts. I get on forum sites that discuss the ins and outs, and I already feel like Ive been there before I do anything. I dont even let the taxis dig into my wallet. Whenever I go to Vegas, I tell them exactly where to go and how to get there, because they will try to swipe you for an extra $15 by going the roundabout way. Like to drink a bit too when on vacation and that can really push your costs up. Even in high cost St. John, I know where the dollar bud lites and $3 wine happy hours are at. And believe me it tastes a lot better than the $7-$10 ones that are the exact same brand at a different watering hole!
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Old 01-20-2012, 03:54 PM   #9
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On most of our trips, to the best of my recollection, we spend an average of around $200 per day....give or take a little. That is all inclusive for gas, lodging, meals, snacks, activities or attraction (concerts, shows, sight-seeing, etc), and any shopping we do while we're there. Our annual Florida trip in February/March runs at right about the $200 per day average, as do the three bluegrass festival trips that we take each year. However, like T-Al said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
.....My new idea is to drive to a city not too far away and stay at a really fancy hotel, and go to interesting restaurants. That is, avoid flying, long drives, and campsite generators, and spend the money saved on the nice hotel and good food. Think SF Fairmont and Ruth's Chris steakhouse.
We have taken, and probably will continue to take, occasional trips that have averaged $400-500 per day. Like our trip the week before Christmas of 2010. We hadn't done much traveling that year, and decided to splurge an one really nice trip. So we went to Nashville (one of our favorite destinations that's only about an 8 hour drive form home!) and stayed at a resort for 5 days in a very nice (large) suite. I handed the valet the car keys when we arrived, and didn't see or use our car again until the day we left to come home. We used the resort's shuttles to go where we wanted...shows, downtown to shop or eat, the Grand Ole Opry, and that sort of the thing. We ate most of our meals in the resort at one of the nine restaurants.

It wasn't cheap, but it sure was nice and relaxing!!! We're thinking about going there again this year for Christmas....they go all out with holiday decorations and lights!

Sometime I'd like to drive to St. Louis, stay at a really expensive nice place, and explore the city for a few days, including their botanical gardens.

I think too often we tend to ignore overlook treasures that lie close to home, because we're distracted by some tourist trap shiny object a thousand miles away.
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Old 01-20-2012, 04:37 PM   #10
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...(snip)...
I think too often we tend to ignore overlook treasures that lie close to home, because we're distracted by some tourist trap shiny object a thousand miles away.
Yes, those shiny objects are sometimes quite expensive. DW and I like to drive into San Francisco for the day. We have a membership for the museum, so over the year's time frame it's pretty cheap. Sometimes we'll walk the gardens in Golden Gate Park. Then head over to the Cliff House for lunch on clear days. The window seats there have spectacular views of the Pacific and ships coming through the Golden Gate Bridge. Really quite a modest splurge for what you get.

Sometimes I think day trips are more fun then longer vacations. DW might disagree.
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Old 01-20-2012, 05:05 PM   #11
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From the time our youngest son was around 5 we started taking 2 week vacations every August before school would start again for the year. (and after the soccer season was over) We would save up for the vacation and then budget per day for the extent of our vacation. If we decided to camp for a few days we would spend more money on food and attractions but if we spent $$ on hotels then we would eat cheaper meals and maybe go hiking. And I tracked every day in a journal. I recall one day as I removed the journal from the glovebox to record our spending one of the boys said, "Mom, you have way too much time on your hands"! We laughed about that for years. And at the end of the vacation, if there was money left, we gave the boys 10% of the "savings" and deposited the rest in their college accounts. (fond memories)

Since we've become empty-nesters we still save for the vacations but I can't say I have any idea what it costs us per day.
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Old 01-20-2012, 05:11 PM   #12
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We do not have the "travel bug", and I think we have only been on one overnight trip since retirement - - a four day trip to Springfield, Missouri, by car. I am single so I only have to pay half, and I would estimate that we each spend about $100 - $150 per day on this type of trip.

Currently we are not inclined to fly at all due to our intense objections to the recent security procedures coupled with the wonderful fact that we have free choice.

Like Goonie, T-Al, and Lsbcal, we do enjoy local trips and often we go on "day trips" where we don't have to spend the night. Tomorrow we are driving to Hammond, Louisiana, about a 110 mile round trip. Total cost for gas would be about $15, and I doubt we would buy anything else except for lunch.
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Old 01-20-2012, 05:51 PM   #13
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DW and I are travelling very frugally and have gained extensive travel experience in the US and Europe. Probably one of our cheaper costs per day was a ~4000 mile, 31 day road trip from NYC to NOLA and back, in 2009: price for gas ($400), accomodation ($950), tolls + groceries + occasional eat out ($300) for both came out to about $55/day Accommodation included cheap motels and sleeping in state parks for 6 nights (although @ $20 a night this is only marginally cheaper than motels in the south). If you don't move that much and stay in a place a week at a time costs are lower for sleeping and obviously less for gas.

Even when we fly internationally to Europe and rent a car our costs are kept under $200/day for 2 week trips. Using miles for flights makes it way cheaper than that ...

On our 2008 trip to Tahiti / Moorea (supposedly among the most expensive places in the world), costs were limited to well under $100/day by finding cheap accommodation, renting a scooter to go around Moorea and using miles for flights.
(This is the place to get off-topic to recount our most memorable encounter with a local on the main Tahiti island. We were walking around town and happened to ask a local for directions to the nearest supermarket. Since she was driving in that direction she decided to give us a short ride but after we got off, we realized that my DW forgot her purse in the car... After a few tense hours we were finally able to get in touch and the local not only apologized profusely but invited us to visit her home. After knowing us for just a couple hours she suddenly decided (to our utter shock and disbelief) to just give us the keys to one of her cars to drive around the island, no strings attached. Amazingly relaxed people )
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:01 PM   #14
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I don't keep track of that much detail. When traveling to more expensive locations for more than one night, we often book a condo or extended-stay hotel with kitchen facilities and save a lot of money (and stress) by only eating a few special meals out and cooking the rest (I enjoy cooking as well as exploring unfamiliar supermarkets so it doesn't take away from the enjoyment at all.). HomeAway and VRBO make this much easier than it used to be.
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:07 PM   #15
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Currently we are not inclined to fly at all due to our intense objections to the recent security procedures coupled with the wonderful fact that we have free choice.

Like Goonie, T-Al, and Lsbcal, we do enjoy local trips and often we go on "day trips" where we don't have to spend the night. Tomorrow we are driving to Hammond, Louisiana, about a 110 mile round trip. Total cost for gas would be about $15, and I doubt we would buy anything else except for lunch.
This is increasingly our tendency as well.
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I think some of our road trips come to $100/day.

My new idea is to drive to a city not too far away and stay at a really fancy hotel, and go to interesting restaurants. That is, avoid flying, long drives, and campsite generators, and spend the money saved on the nice hotel and good food. Think SF Fairmont and Ruth's Chris steakhouse.
Al, do you realize someone is posting on your account because this does not sound like the T Al we all know !
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:36 PM   #17
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I should add that my purpose for estimating per day cost is to try to decide, in advance, what the length of the trip should roughly be. Helps to set DW's expectations . One doesn't want to be too rational about what is basically an emotional experience.

I do not keep any detailed logs. It's easy to get the totals by adding up the prepaid reservations, the VISA statement billings, and the cash outlays (starting cash minus ending cash).
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:45 PM   #18
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Yes, I remember reading about T-Al's last road trip and his unpleasant experience with a camp host with a loud generator that scarred him for life. That's too bad, because we ourselves did not run into trouble with people running loud generators, nor made it troublesome for any neighbor. There are usually restrictions on when generators can be run.

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I think some of our road trips come to $100/day.
On our long road trips, I think we averaged something like $120-$130/day. About half of it was for the gas-guzzler RV (9.2mpg towing a car). Campground fees run $20-$30/day, and we were on the road and boondocking at Walmart about 1 every 4 nights. We have not truly boondocked in the wilderness outside of federal or state campgrounds; the missus is still scared of the unknown...

So, compared to tent camping expenses by T-Al, we do not do too bad. And we have a lot more comfort. Of course, there is the sunk cost of the RV and the toad, but as they were paid with cash, the more we travel this way, the more we "save".
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Old 01-20-2012, 07:17 PM   #19
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$300 to $600/day sounds about right for travel involving flying, rental car, hotel, food, etc. for our past major trips. Nowadays we're living with a very old dog who just can't be left in a kennel. So we also do day trips, though we take a week off cooking two weeks a year or so. We do fun things during the day, and then out to a very nice restaurant every evening. Kinda nice for 9 days straight once in a while, probably averages $100+ per day.
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Old 01-20-2012, 07:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lsbcal View Post

Europe - France & London in 2007 (24 days, on our own)
Visited: Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley
Cost per day: $380

Hawaii - in 2006 (11 days, on our own)
Visited: Hawaii (big island), Maui; stayed at Sheraton which is a bit pricey
Cost per day: $470

So you can see why we've been doing road trips while DS is in college and after the crash of 2008. They can be lots of fun and one feels a bit freer, not locked into a set itinerary. For air travel vacations the number of days divided by the plane costs can affect the total a lot.

Any insights into vacation spending you want to discuss?
Thanks for sharing your data Lsbcal.

I'm intrigued by how much more expensive Hawaii was per day compared to Europe. Was this due to the airfares amortized over twice as many days, or was were the costs once in Hawaii just more expensive than Europe? I would have expected the opposite.

I will start keeping this data now that we will probably fly more to distant locations.

Audrey
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