This is the last post about our vacation and is an expense recap. Shane was able to borrow a camera from his sister that takes much better pics than our own camera, so I've created a separate page for those shots. You can click HERE, or under "Pages" in my sidebar
Mostly to satisfy my own curiosity, I've compiled a quick breakdown of our vacation costs. I don't know how other people like to spend their vacation, but we like to keep busy, with a little down-time mixed in. We weren't on the go every waking moment, but we ended up doing most of what we wanted to do. Two things we might have done -- a zip-line activity and rafting -- would have required a lot more time and a little more money than we were willing to spend, and that lovely swirling, swooping helicopter ride through the Royal Gorge was just out of the question financially.
Before we left, I was guessing $1000 as a reasonable amount to spend for this particular trip. Here's how it went and how I think it would compare to an "average" family vacation:
Sleeping accommodations - $30. We spent four nights at my sister-in-law's house and two nights in a motel. Our first motel stay was free because of their hot tub problems and our second night was only $30 because of a discount voucher we had. We definitely came out ahead on this. Had we spent all six nights in a motel, it could easily have cost us $500 or more.
Meals out - $344. We were away from home for 19 meal times. We ate in restaurants for 10 of them. Except for Subway on our last day, we avoided fast food places and except for three of our meals, we avoided chain restaurants all together. We didn't eat "health foods" by any means, but I think we avoided most of the really worthless junk. We also tried a few new and unusual foods. Had we taken some of our own food or eaten more meals at the in-laws' house, we could have saved a little money. On the other hand, if we'd eaten every meal out, even at fast-food joints, we would have spent as much or probably more.
Snacks and drinks - $28. Sometimes when we travel we have a lot of snacks or drinks, either in the van or at the attractions we visit. We didn't do much of that this trip, because we took our own bottles of water and cans of soda -- $12 of the $28 dollars here was for ice for the cooler. In addition, we were eating so well (mostly in quantity, but also in quality) that we didn't feel the need to snack between meals.
Gasoline - $227. We traveled approximately 1400 miles. Gasoline prices were, on average, $3.45 a gallon, and we still had about 1/3 of tank of gas left when we got home. It's hard to compare this to other families because of vehicle differences, destination differences, etc. Also, the in-laws drove us around to some attractions, so there were about 500 miles that were on their vehicle.
Activities and Attraction Admissions - $205. We paid to get into the parks at Cliff Dwellings, Pikes Peak, Royal Gorge, Cave of the Winds and Prairie Dog Town. There was no charge to get into Garden of the Gods or Pulpit Rock Park. Other families may have remembered to grab the discount coupons to many of these places; we absent-mindedly left them sitting on the dresser. Also, most of these attractions are available as part of a package deal. That, too, could have saved us money, but because of time restraints, we didn't want to lock ourselves into a package deal.
Souvenirs - $165. Does that sound like a lot? It does to me, although in our defense, none of it was cheesy shot glasses, snow globes or chunks of fool's gold. $10 of it was a gift for the little boy who (with the help of his mom) watered our garden while we were gone. $25 of it was toys and trinkets Kat bought with her own money. We bought some post cards to send to Kat's great-grandparents. Shane bought a bill cap (the only souvenir we bought that has the word "Colorado" printed on it) and some ocarina flutes that he's wanted and passed up in other places. For myself, I bought a sterling-dipped aspen leaf pendant, a sterling silver ring and some fridge magnets. Not the kitschy kind with the state or park name printed on them, but some nicer magnets with strong holding power to replace some of the ugly, weak ones on our fridge right now. In comparison to other families, I think our spending on souvenirs was probably moderate.
Incidentals - $105. This includes turnpike tolls, an extra birthday gift for Kat that probably wouldn't have been purchased had we not been on vacation, a few pool toys, sunscreen for Shane, Redbox movies for Kat to watch on the long drive home, and two replacement swimsuits thanks to the motel's blunder. Other families may have been better organized and not needed any incidentals. On the other hand, other families may have included shopping as a main feature of their vacation.
Grand Total for 7 days and 6 nights - $1104 or about $158 a day. All in all, I think we did fairly well. When I asked Shane how much he thought we had spent, he said $1100. I'm not sure if he was tracking expenses in his head, or if he just got lucky.
So, what do you think? Considering all we did and all we ate, did we do ok? Or do you think we spent too much?