Monday, January 19, 2009

Budgeting for Vacations

This post will probably be a bit rambling. I hate budgeting for vacations. Case in point: while budgeting for our upcoming trip to Costa Rica I started nickel and diming it. I had us taking the El to the airport instead of a taxi. However, our flight leaves at 6 am (ouch ouch ouch!) and comes back at 10:30 pm (and we have to work the next day). The $70 for taxis both ways will be well worth it at those hours as opposed to walking to the El at 4 am. Then I had us bringing snacks with us instead of getting an overpriced lunch in the airport. I also think I underbudgeted on gas and insurance for our rental car so we haven't even left on the trip and I'm pissed we're over budget.

I work much better with a vague idea of what we'd like to spend (or what we plan to spend after booking hotels and flights) in mind and if we go over by a couple hundred, that's okay. The extra $300 we might spend is worth it compared to feeling like I need to account for every penny for 10 days. I also hate to feel restricted if we come up on something really cool to do or to buy or to go out to eat. After all, when's the next time I'll be back?

One thing I need to work on in advance is budgeting for activities. I tend to underbudget in this category. We tend to do a lot of activities on our trips and they really add up quickly. For instance next week in Costa Rica we're doing whitewater rafting, canyoning, hot springs, a zipline, and ATVing that are all costly. Plus some inexpensive nature hikes. That's $1000 right there.

Another category that tends to sneak up on me is travel within a destination. One would think that the big flight to Rio would have been the real expense (well ours were covered by air miles). But then we had a flight Rio to Buenos Aires round-trip for $800. Then a flight Rio to Salvador round-trip for $600. Then round-trip car transportation to Buzios for $300. That's nearly as much as tickets from Chicago to Rio would be. We're running into the same thing with our potential trip to Thailand. Flights within Thailand are pretty cheap but if we want to go to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, it's $800 for 2 tickets.


Liz said...

I am similar where I underbudget in the same areas for every trip.

There are ways to get less expensive flights between BKK and REP.

You can buy a "Discovery Airpass" from Bangkok Airways. You need to book three flights, but we just didn't use the third flight. We saved a lot, tickets were about $260 each.

We flew into HKG, out of BKK on our free tickets. We then purchased the Discovery Airpass for HKG to REP and REP to BKK, plus one unused leg.

Just an idea. I have a feeling you would love HKG if you have an extra few days!

WeezerMonkey said...

So fun!

Trace said...

Visiting from the Nest - how have I not seen your blog before?!! Sounds like we've got very similar interests - fashion and travel! =)

We're actually trying to decide between Thailand and Costa Rica for our anniversary in July! Been wanting to visit Thailand for a long time - but the cost of airfare is holding us back a little right now. Especially when airfare to CR is less than $400 bucks on sale on Frontier! So hard to decide what to do...

Anyway, I'm having fun checking out your blog - just added you to my feeds. =)