Step 1 – Do the exact opposite of everything we did on our most recent vacation.
Hopefully, it won’t actually be that bad but I haven’t taken full stock of everything since we got back. I *think* we went over budget by about $400.
We were pretty up in the air about when and if we would take a vacation this year. Since we were so iffy about it – instead of continuing to fund our vacation savings I applied the money to debt – definitely not a bad thing. When hubby started talking last month about getting away and needing to use his vacation time early in June, I put saving for vacation on top of the list of things to do.
I checked our three favorite beaches (Panama City, Orange Beach & Myrtle Beach) and checked price ranges on all three beaches. Myrtle Beach was going to cost a little more in gas for the trip but hotel prices were cheaper. After another couple of days of checking hotel prices on expedia, orbitz, bookit, priceline, hotels.com & travelocity, then comparing all the prices on our chosen hotel & factoring in online rebates, coupon codes and cash back available, we finally booked a hotel for 6 nights (for $798 after a 10% off coupon code. We have another 2.5% coming with an online rebate & another 3% cash back already applied to the card we used.)
I think I’ve said before that in a couple of areas we are more comfortable using credit cards those areas are online purchases and traveling.
We put the hotel on the card knowing it has to be paid off before we go so that we don’t start with any additional debt. We paid off the hotel with a combination of vacation savings, overtime pay and CC statement rewards. Once that hurdle was jumped, we continued saving for vacation. We really only budget for about 4 areas on vacation (this is where we almost don’t look cheap or frugal) hotel, gas, food & golf.
I’ve already covered how we did the hotel and we make sure we pay for it before we leave the house.
Gas doesn’t really end up being a big deal either because in a normal week we fill up 3 times and the trip required only one more tank then we are already used to.
Golf (I realize that this seems like an area that would be easily skipped but for me getting it covered is important – hubby works long days, long weeks with lots of overtime and then longer days with little relief on the farm so if he wants to play a couple of rounds of golf on vacation, I’ll make it happen). Hubby plays two late afternoon (cheaper than morning rounds) for $30 and he takes our future pro golfing little man with him (juniors play free). We also took the kids for one round of mini golf (indoors because it was raining) the 3 oldest kids played (little man was free).
Not seeing the big screwups in our planning yet? Don’t worry it is coming…
Food. We eat everyday. How hard is this one to mess up? Apparently, not very hard. Our other form of entertainment is eating on vacation. We plan for eating out several meals on vacation. Sometimes lunch, sometimes supper but generally once a day. We plan for it and we plan for it to cost more than McDonald’s. We eat nice but we still use all of our regular cheap tips for eating out (drinking water, skipping appetizers & desserts & drinks, using coupons, kids sharing meals & staying out of the real touristy places). From about the 2nd meal out, we went over budget every. single. meal. Live and Learn. We paid for it this trip but our next trip the only oceanfront dining we’ll be doing will be on our own balcony.
So this is the post on how not to plan your food budget for vacation. Our whole over budget amount wasn’t on food though, I spent about $125 on school stuff (workbooks & math manipulatives) for the kids so that isn’t actually a vacation expense.
I think next year we’ll go ahead and plan for vacation even if we don’t think we’ll take one.