Real-life money lessons

How Much Does Your Vacation Really Cost?

Back in March, we went on a road trip and J calculated how much we spent. I thought it was great for him to be able to see exactly how much a vacation really costs.

So when we went to Virginia Beach a few weeks ago, I wanted to have him calculate the cost again, with a few tweaks.

During the trip, we collected all receipts in a folder. We didn’t attempt to do any worksheets or calculating while we were away! A few days after we got home, we sat down and filled out our new and improved trip log (once all of the EZ Pass transactions posted).

This time, we divided all of our receipts into categories. We ended up with seven groups: gas, tolls, groceries, eating out/snacks, household items and lodging.

He labeled each green box with the category. Then he used a running total approach with the register. This involves:

  • Writing the date, description and amount on the white line
  • Adding the amount to the subtotal above
  • Recording the new total on the green line



All in all, we spent $1,129.06.

A few notes about our vacation:

  • Three of us stayed for four nights for this amount. We split the condo with another couple (and their two kids) who stayed the entire week. (The condo was great — four bedrooms, on the beach, three pools — totally worth the cost in my mind.)
  • We made all of our meals at the condo. It was easier and less chaotic, not to mention cheaper, for us to hang out at home. Plus more relaxing!
  • I tried not stress so much before the trip, which is why we ate out on the way down. It was less work for me ahead of time — I didn’t have so many meals and snacks to prepare AND clothes to pack, etc. Plus, I do like to stop in little towns at recommended restaurants and I like to enjoy the journey, so stopping was worth it for us. Three of us ate for about $30, not great but not terrible — that included three meals, one drink and a tip. No appetizers or desserts.
  • We also did stop for treats — snow cones on the way at $3 for three of us and donuts on the way back at about the same price.
  • We took what was left in the fridge and ate it on our way home, so we didn’t have to stop for lunch.
  • The costs above don’t include one toy that J got on the way home with his own money. He wanted a “souvenir” but we never got around going to a souvenir shop, which I’m not unhappy about! He bought a regular toy (Legos!) so I know he’ll play with it in the future and it won’t be broken or garbage really quickly. (I love this article from Four Pillar Freedom about why souvenirs aren’t really necessary.)

Want to try it with your kids? Download our trip log here!

And what do you think? Any thoughts or ideas on what we can add or change?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *