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Monthly vacation budget

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  • Monthly vacation budget

    I wanted to take an informal poll on how much everyone's monthly vacation budget is. We have a family of three and average $500/month. We still have student loan debt to pay off and need to work on building our nest egg so I'm wondering if we should budget even less. Our daughter is only two and we have another one on the way so I'm guessing it's ok if we don't do any international trips for the next few years. Thanks!

  • #2
    This year we're budgeting $2500 a month toward vacations. But we're at a very different stage of life than you are- no debt and already a pretty good nest egg. Plus we are a family of six with plans for two big internationalesque trips for all six this year (just returned from the second one.)

    This is just one of those values questions. What do you value? If international travel is really important to you, then cut back somewhere else. Try to avoid ever feeling deprived. You might also look into travel hacking.

    But if you've got a plan to be rid of your student loans in less than 5 years and are saving 20% of your gross for retirement, I wouldn't feel the least bit guilty blowing the rest on a trip to Vietnam.
    Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011


    • #3
      We were trying to stick to 500/month, but we're finding that to be difficult for as much as we travel. I think a more realistic number is probably 1000/month at this stage. We travel pretty cheap, but often. However, we're cutting back a bit on big trips (like hawaii, europe) until we pay off some debt.


      • #4
        We are a family of 5. We've never made a family budget. I think WCI's post titled "budgets are for rookies" is pretty spot on. We typically spend $10-15k on vacations per year, but we are also in a different situation than OP. Generally I think vacations are "worth it." I would rather spend on experiences than objects. That said, assuming no real retirement and taxable savings, I probably wouldn't spend $6k / year as a family of three in OP's shoes.


        • #5
          Timely post. Just a few hours ago I booked a trip to Maui for our family of 5, sparing little expense in our accommodations. Without food or activities will be almost $14,000 for a week, but we value travel and experiences as a family highly. I'm also claiming this as a celebration trip for having student loans completely paid off ($336,000 in 3.5 years). Prior to this year our vacation/travel budget has been right around $1500-2000 per month, but we also meet WCIs 2 criteria above, so I guess j shouldn't feel guilty about it anymore...

          I also did some retirement calculator work tonight and found that assuming 6% growth (I'm between 85-90% stock/10-15% bond) at my current savings rate I could walk away from medicine in 20 years at age 58 with a nest egg over $5.8 million. My oldest kid may only be around another 8 years before she's off to college so I'd rather spend some of the extra money now.


          • #6
            We haven't budgeted, but I have tracked it, and the travel category has come in around $10,000 a year. It's tough to nail down what expenses count as travel expenses. How do you count food and dining when traveling? Is that the vacation budget? Food budget? You've got to eat no matter where you are. What about second home expenses and wear and tear on the car traveling to and fro?

            We've kept our travel budget within reason with travel hacking, tacking on extra days after CME trips, visiting family and friends, etc... But we love to travel and do so often.


            • #7
              We are about at ~ $500 a month, likely more (we have student loan debt, saving more than 25% towards retirement + extra student loan payments). We take at least one international trip a year and one trip that is combined with CME (so highly subsidized). We use cc points to get things like free flights & hotels. This year, I don't think we actually paid for any flights and we have gone to Hawaii twice and Paris.


              • #8
                We don't like to travel so our budget is probably much lower than everyone else

                We still like to return home 2x/year so the major cost there is the airline tickets which we try to minimize via credit card bonuses. Housing and food is usually covered by our very generous parents and in laws ????

                We will also travel 2x/year for various CME events but luckily that is all covered by our employers

                Will probably have to break out of our comfort zone and travel more as the kids get bigger to broaden their (and our) horizons


                • #9
                  OP, I take it you are in the Pacific Northwest. A great place for outdoor vacations. I would do local trips within a 500 mile radius until the student loans are well under control and the kids are 5-7 years of age. Then I would start exploring longer trips, maybe international ones.

                  We have made vacations a priority and so we tend to travel twice a year ( 3 of us), mostly internationally. Last year was expensive and I think we spent $40K for our Amsterdam/Africa trip and a trip to India. Airfares at peak times kill us since we can only take our vacations when the school is off. Peak holiday prices factor in that. But I figure I have about 10 more years when I can travel without worrying about medical issues restricting me, so I have decided to splurge for those years.


                  • #10
                    I never strictly had a budget, nor have I tracked expenses. When I retire and have a fixed income, I am projecting about $40k per year to travel. That gives us a large cushion should unexpected expenses arise or sequence of returns are not in our favor. I have never spent that much in a year on travel, but I would sure like to give it a try!

                    When we were first married, we limited our travel to visiting friends and family and such, with an occasional splurge. I was focused on paying off my wife's school loans, concerned about starting a new job, etc. If I could do it over again, I would have taken some big international trips then, but at the time felt that we could not afford it. I was short-sighted and wrong.

                    Then, the kids came along, and we made sure everything was paid first (retirement funds, deferred comp, 529s, mortgage, etc.) and used excess cash flow (i.e.. discretionary funds) to travel. When they were younger, we did family visits and Disney and beach trips. When they got older, we did some national park and (expensive) ski trips, some of which were CME trips, which helped defray some of the net cost. Later, family trips to Hawaii, Mexico, and then Europe.

                    This year was relatively light for travel cost. Our family's "big trip" was spring break in Costa Rica. This summer, my wife went on a subsidized girls trip to Israel, and later this meeting, I am attending a Wilderness Medical Society, er, course boating the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, glamping for a week and earning 12 hours of CME.

                    As the kids get older, their activities and schedules, as well as being tied to the school calendar, have increasingly limited our opport, choices and locations. I am looking forward to a few years from now when I will be able to do all of the cool trips of my dreams, at much lower cost and with smaller crowds, in April, September, and October.


                    • #11
                      @PNWskindoc,   with a toddler and a newborn, just stay home.!!


                      • #12
                        I am glad this was posted as I was just thinking about this as I came up with a monthly travel budget a few months ago. I do put a priority on travel but haven't felt like I could spend much as I was paying off student loans but just recently have dedicated about 1k per month for travel and will probably make upward adjustments over time as my net worth increases.


                        • #13
                          Currently, we're building a home, so that money is on hold right now.  Previously, it was around $500/mo.  We're just using CME money for hotel trips and frequent flyer miles for the other person in the meantime.


                          • #14
                            We have a 1 year-old. May be pregnant again soon so tough to plan really big trips (I'd rather not have some sort of early pregnancy complication in a foreign country).

                            Our vacation this year was with my family at my parents' beach house. Spent maybe $100 total, between gas and a dinner out ourselves. Going to a conference later this year with CME money, just have to pay airfare for my husband. Would love to spend more on nicer trips in the future!


                            • #15
                              Depending on how your finances look I wouldn't say $6k/yr is too much, in the long term it probably won't make a big difference and even if you go over $6k it probably won't be a big deal.  Some people are throwing out some monster travel budgets, but $6k for travel is still pretty good.  If you're in the PNW like your username suggests, there are so many awesome things to see and do that's driving distance away (depending how bold you are in driving long distances) and likely low cost, in fact there's a few trips I want to take in the near future that are probably driveable for you but a $300+ flight for me.  One could argue that with little ones the value and effort of certain types of travel is not worth it, and I wouldn't disagree with your thoughts on no international travel for awhile.  You could even create a tradition of going to the same vacation spot each year, which I think could be more memorable and meaningful as a family.