Easy Tips For Tracking Expenses on Vacation

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When you are on vacation, you can often get caught up in the excitement and spend more many than you would like to. It’s hard to say know why you see your family so happy. In order to prevent vacation budget disaster, it is important to know what you are spending. Here are some tips for tracking expenses on vacation so you can avoid any monetary surprises.

tips for tracking expenses on vacation

I am extremely guilty of getting caught up in the excitement of a trip and tend to overspend on souvenirs from whatever our vacation destination is. This is especially true when we are visiting the Caribbean islands and I am on my favorite all-inclusive resort. While it is great at the time, the bill afterwards is not.

tracking expenses on vacation beach

My Father-in-law is the master at managing the expenses when we are on our annual trip to Wildwood, NJ. How does he do it? You would be surprised! Nothing fancy, just a simple notebook and pencil he can slip in his pocket to jot down what we have spent.

Let me tell, it may be a simple solution, but it ALWAYS works!

Sandals Ochi Beach tracking expenses

Ok, let’s get started on what you need to know about tracking expenses on vacation so you can have a great trip without breaking the bank.

Determine What You Can Comfortably Afford To Spend

Start by estimating an overall budget, then deduct the upfront costs you have already paid to see how much you have left. Many people prefer to set a per-day budget once they get to their destination, but sometimes this is not always practical because there can be hidden costs, forgotten costs, and cost of living issues. All those can make it difficult to track your expenses, but you can do it. 

What Upfront Costs Have You Already Purchased?

Tracking expenses on vacation actually starts before you ever leave the house. When you determined your vacation budget, did you include what things you already purchased? You will have already purchased the tickets such as the airfare, or committed to train, bus or driving costs. You’ve also usually had to pay for the accommodation up front, and a car rental if you opt for one.

If this is separate from your actual vacation budget, then it just makes it easier for tracking expenses on vacation. Leave these items out of your total vacation budget and move on to the next point.

Wildwood Boardwalk tracking expenses

Are Meals Included In Your Vacation?

This is probably the biggest chunk of your vacation budget, and often the hardest to stick to. Especially if you are at a place where you have to eat out for every meal. If you have a large family, it is often harder to manage this expense. My best advice is to plan heavy on meals and then add an extra $200 to cover things like snacks and drinks.

Here are some tips to track your spending on food:

  • Give each person a daily food budget. Use bank envelopes with each person’s name. Subtract each meal and put that number on the envelope.
  • Have a money binder with a folder for each day. You can decide that each day’s food budget is different depending on what your plans are for the day. You can decide that two meals with suffice because you are engaged in an activity.
  • Determine that each person is responsible for their own meals. If you travel with a group, then decided that each family unit is responsible for their own meals and that makes tracking expenses on vacation even easier.

Consider An All-Inclusive Experience

While the initial expenses for an all-inclusive resort are higher, the fact that once your feet hit the resort and everything is included (depending on the resort), you can put your notebook away and just enjoy yourself.

Sandals Dunn's River All-Inclusive

Places like Beaches Resorts included just about everything in their price. From meals to the waterpark, to watersports, you don’t need to pull out your wallet. And since tips are included in your room price, you actually save a lot of money, and you can avoid tracking expenses on vacation.

We are taking our adult kids there in Fall 2024, and I am really excited about that. We can just enjoy our time there, without having to constantly worry about food & drinks and fun activities.

Remember To Plan For Emergencies When Tracking Expenses On Vacation

As much as we don’t want to think about it, always remember to plan for emergencies. Have a high-limit credit card with you in case of a medical emergency. Consider getting a travel medical insurance plan. Check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover anything.

One expense you may want to plan for is additional money for a hotel room if you miss your flight or even enough to cover plane tickets home if you missed your flight. Ask me how I know this.

LeVoyageur Motel Wildwood NJ hotel expenses on vacation

Go Digital When Tracking Expenses On Vacation

If you don’t like use pencil and paper or the envelope system, then a digital vacation expense tracker may be what you need. There are simple apps on your phone, or you can have a handheld version as well. Whatever method you decide, stick to it so you stay on track and on budget.

Monitor Your Expenses Each Day Before Going To Bed

Write everything down in your handy notebook or whatever paper method you are using. Tuck your receipts into your notebook and do your tallies at the end of the day. By doing this you will know if you are on track with your spending or you need to cut back with a few things. Doing it at the end of each day will avoid any surprises.

vacation activities tracking expenses

Be Prepared To Adjust The Vacation Budget Based On Your Daily Spending

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we do make mistakes or overspend. Don’t beat yourself up over it, just make the decision to cut back. You may need to cancel an excursion or adjust where you are eating. While it is not always a fun decision it can be a very responsible one. Make sure you are open and honest with your family about it, so there are no hard feelings.

These are my best tips for tracking expenses while on vacation. Here are a few more ideas to keep your expenses in line.

I hope that you found this post helpful. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know your best tips for tracking expenses on vacation! I will leave you with a few more easy travel tips.

Easy Travel Tips

staying safe during hotel stay
Things To Do On The Day You Leave

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One Comment

  1. Thanks, Jennifer for all the tips and for participating and sharing at SSPS 292. See you again next week!
    Whoop whoop see you as co-host next week at SSPS. Super exited to have you on the team.

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