Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 279 - Trying to Vacation On A Budget

The $60K Project is currently on vacation with a poor attempt at shutting down all electronic devices for most of the week. I'm starting to get the shakes so I'm logging in for a brief update on our vacation expenses. Side note: I borrowed this grading format from Travis @DebtChronicles. He recently posted a Resolution Report Card so I'm using a similar theme with a Vacation Report Card today.

Mike and I have wanted to go to Durango, CO for a very long time. It is an outdoor lover's playground. A few months ago we decided it was finally time to take the plunge. We were ahead of schedule with our debt payoff goal and had some extra money we could use to pay cash for a trip to somewhere. So here we are in Durango for a week. Below is a breakdown of what we have spent and also money saved by using coupons or lower priced options. Yes, I do realize that we could have saved a lot of money by not going on this trip altogether. But we're here, we're vacationing and we're trying to not go crazy.

Lodging. We rented the bottom floor of a pet-friendly house (with separate entrance and kitchen) on the outskirts of Durango for five nights. The remaining two nights we are staying at a Residence Inn. Mike's company owns a bunch of Marriot's so we get an employee rate when we stay (yay!). Total cost of lodging for the week: about $750 bucks. After we booked the house, the Residence Inn rates dropped to $45 a night which would have saved us about $300 on lodging for the week. But it was a last minute rate drop which is tough to wait out when you are trying to plan ahead. Lodging Grade: B

Entertainment. This is probably where we have splurged the most. We took a trip on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Mike is doing a river rafting trip tomorrow. Total cost for both: $422. Yowsa. Given that there are many free and low cost things to do in Durango (mountain bike, hike, road bike - which we have done), I would say that our entertainment expenses have been kind of a bust. But we also knew that these were two things we really wanted to do. So we're sucking it up and just admitting defeat on this expense. Entertainment Grade: C-

Food. We have generally been trying to eat out only once a day. Since we have a kitchen, we stocked up on breakfast, lunch and snacks at the grocery store. Plus our most expensive meal out cost $20 bucks. Total cost so far: $280. This amount seems a little high, but given what it could be if we were eating out every meal I don't think this is too bad. Plus our usual budget for food is $340 every two weeks and we are still under that. So we really haven't dipped into any of our vacation expense for food yet. Food Grade: B+

If we left Duke at home we would be paying $60 a day to our dogwalker. That comes out to about $540 for the week. So we threw Duke in the car and saved some money. So far we spent $28 for a day at doggie day care during our train ride (about an 11 hour day), and we also spent $80 bucks at a vet in Flagstaff due to a sore paw (he's ok, folks!). Total savings: $430. Dog Grade: A 

Flights to Durango from San Diego run about $400 a person. Plus car rental for the week would probably have been another $200 bucks. By driving instead of flying we will probably end up saving around $700 bucks. I'm not including general wear and tear on the car in this amount. Gas Grade: A

Summary of expenses to date:
Lodging:         $753
Food:             $280
Entertainment: $460
Dog:               $108
Gas:                $133
Total:           $1,734

Ways we have saved money:
Driving vs. Flying  ($700)
Bringing Duke       ($430)
Coupons                 ($15) 2-for-1 Tuesday at Trimble Hot Springs
                              ($17) 10% off code for train
Eating in vs. out     ($200) Estimate of extra money spent if ate out every meal
Total Savings:   ($1,362)

Final Exam. I think our trip to Durango will end up costing about $2,500. Would this money have been better spent if gone towards our debt? Probably - that amount is about half of our remaining debt balance. This has been kind of an eye opening experience for both Mike and myself. Yes, we did find ways to save some money, but I don't think either of us realized the true cost of a vacation - even when you are attempting to do it on the cheap. Final Grade: B-

Going through this exercise has been helpful and really forced us to realize what we spent. We were budgeting/guessing this trip would cost around $1,700 total and it looks like we have already spent more than that! Still have a lot of financial learning to do.

Stay tuned,

Have you gone back and reviewed your vacation expenses after a planned trip? Were you surprised to find out how much you spent or were you right on track with what  you expected? Any tips and tricks you can share would be great!



Jackie said... Best Blogger Tips

I do review my expenses after trips. I cringed at the total after this last one, but it actually wasn't that bad considering we had 4 extra days unexpectedly tacked on to the end of our vacation. (Flights out were cancelled due to a volcano.)

Robert said... Best Blogger Tips

I thought of driving versus flying for my last trip to Vegas, and it turned out that flying was cheaper!  I got a great deal on airfare, and it worked out well.

Ken @ Spruce Up Your Finances said... Best Blogger Tips

So far, I have not really tried flying when going to Vegas. It's always been driving since there are always a lot of us when we go so it is much more cost effective driving. Besides, the road trip is fun when you have company

Miss T said... Best Blogger Tips

We find we save a lot of money staying at hostels. It is amazing how nice of  place you can get for a cheap dollar. We also use our feet a lot and save on transportation costs- if we can walk we will. Third, we shop at grocery stores and limit our eating out. I think food costs are one of the most expensive on a trip-especially if you are eating out all of the time.

60kproject said... Best Blogger Tips

Miss T - that's good advice. I always think about hostels in Europe but never at home. I will have to do some research next time.

Jennifer said... Best Blogger Tips

Wonderful content..! Few things that should take care of before going for a vacation. Make a list of things you’re willing to sacrifice on a vacation. Maybe you’ll avoid meat during your next trip, pass on drinking more than 1 glass of wine, or avoid crap souvenirs. It may be only one or two things and it’s not like you have to completely rule out anything. Just cut back on the things you think you can do without.

Jennifer Goldblum

Sarah said... Best Blogger Tips

Great ideas, Jennifer. By creating these boundaries, it's almost like you've created a mental roadblock that will prevent you from those "on a whim" purchases. Love it!

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