Our Vacation Budget: Did We Stick to It?

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Yay! We are back from the beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida! We had a great trip, made some wonderful memories, and we are already planning our next trip back to the Gulf Coast Region. But the burning question that most of you frugal fellows (and females) are here to read about is this: did we stick to our vacation budget?



Yes!  Well, no.  Well…kind’ve???  I guess we didn’t stick to it very well in some ways, but we did OK in others. If you remember, I wrote about our vacation budget a few weeks ago and I budgeted $1,000 for vacation spending.  The categories were:


  • Transportation Budget: $300
  • Restaurant Budget: $300
  • Grocery Budget: $150
  • Entertainment Budget: $250


Our Vacation Budget: Did We Stick to It?



Transportation Budget

We did pretty well in this category as our final total for transportation was around $250.  This basically included gas only. Compared to our last trip, it seems pretty high. This is because we brought our minivan instead of our Prius.  Bringing our hybrid would have cut that total more than in half, but then we wouldn’t have been able to bring our family friend along as a babysitter.  Bringing the minivan cost more but provided us with childcare and some much-needed alone time.



Grocery Budget

I am proud to report that we spent almost exactly $150 at the grocery store on vacation.  We ate all of our breakfasts at home and most of our lunches and dinners. Yay for renting a condo where you have your own kitchen!



Entertainment Budget

We really hit the ball out of the park in this category.  Our entertainment spending was exactly zero.  Yep, you read that right. I said zero. There were plenty of activities available if we would have chosen to partake, but we just never felt like doing any of them.  For instance, we thought about going on a dolphin cruise. However, we didn’t see the need to go on the cruise since we saw tons of dolphins off our balcony every day. For the same reason, we didn’t take the kids to the resorts version of Sea World.  They were very happy just making sand castles and swimming.



Restaurant Budget

Epic Fail!  We spent almost $700 on eating out.  How is this even possible?!?!?  I honestly cannot even explain how we managed to fail so miserably.  Though, I will say, that I had some of the most amazing meals of my life on this vacation.  We had a kid free dinner at a restaurant called Firefly that was probably the best meal I have ever eaten…..and it should have been for $120 we spent on just the two of us!  We ate my Gulf Coast favorite – crab claws – on multiple occasions, and those are always expensive.  You know it’s going to be bad when it merely says “market price” on the menu.  And, although we tried to keep restaurant spending under control on vacation, it just didn’t happen.  Luckily, we had $250 from our entertainment budget to eat up some of our ridiculous food spending!



Yes, we spent a lot of money on vacation.  Yes, we could have done it cheaper.  Would I change anything if I had it to do over?  No.  I wouldn’t.  It was worth every penny.


Our Vacation Budget: Did We Stick to It?


We got up each morning and played on the beach.  My children laughed, made sand castles, and played as best friends. My fearless three-year-old played in waves that seemed huge compared to her small stature.  She squealed and laughed as they knocked her down.  She found shells.  She made friends everywhere that we went.  My one-year-old ate sand and learned to fill buckets with a shovel.  She marveled at the beautiful ocean and seemed completely shocked by how huge it is.  She stood on the shore line and watched her big sister play.  I think she wants to be just like her one day.


Our Vacation Budget: Did We Stick to It?


As we watched the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen in my life, dolphins literally jumped out of the water and put on a show for everyone on the beach.  Amazingly, I caught it on camera and it’s a good thing – I’m not sure that anyone would believe me if I didn’t.





Yes, vacation was expensive…but it was a glimpse into what life can be someday.  It was a reminder of what we really want out of life.  It was a small taste of having financial freedom – where no one went to work and all of our time was spent doing exactly what we wanted. We are working hard to get there. While we don’t want to wish away the time we have, we can’t wait until the day comes where we no longer have to worry about money.

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  1. Welcome back! You are so right about Sea World, they wouldn’t remember at that age anyway. When they are 8 or 10 a trip to Disney or Sea World will be a wonderful memory.

    1. Yeah, I’m sure they would have no idea …especially my one year old. She isn’t paying too much attention to things these days =)

  2. I love the dolphins! A couple of weeks ago I ran along the beach and one paced me out in the water for a good mile jumping up every 10 seconds or so. It was so much fun!
    Glad you guys had a good trip – is it good to be home?

    1. Yes, I’m glad to be home! Already planning the next vacation now though! =)

  3. Sounds like you had an awesome vacation. Even though you had and epic fail on eating out it sounds like it was way worth it,, which in the end is what matters.

    I always spend way more than I should on vacations, but I never regret it – I love living like a millionaire on vacation. I live frugal the rest of the year 🙂

    1. That is exactly how we are. I’m not going to drive across the country to vacation and eat bologna sandwiches!!!

    1. I would agree. There are some things that are worth splurging on.

      I am glad to hear you had a great time. That is what vacations are supposed to be.

    2. I agree! And really since you didn’t spend entertainment money…it was only $250 over budget. Sounds like it was completely worth it. Glad you all had such a great time!

    3. I agree! It is nice to not have to cook and for someone else to do the dishes!

  4. Sounds like you had a great vacation. Even though you went over on your eating out budget, you really did not go much over as a whole, plus you have the great memories. It’s great fun to watch kids in the water. We went to San Diego last summer and it was awesome to watch our 3 year just love playing in the waves, definitely life long memories…

    1. I agree. Those memories with children are priceless…….

  5. Sounds like a great vacation! I agree, money spent on a vacation should not be regretted.

    1. Yes, as long as it is budgeted for, right? I think we did okay overall!

    1. Wow! My blogging friends are a bunch of enablers! I appreciate it guys =)

  6. Vacations are important for everyone. We all need to get away for a while and have some time to relax. You guys went on vacation for CHEAP imo! We will probably spend only a few hundred less than that just for the two of us to fly to Tampa….and that’s before any of the cruise costs!

    1. Flying is soooooo expensive. We definitely saved money by driving!

  7. Welcome back Greg and Holly. Sure you overspent on restaurants, but if they were some of the best meals you’ve eaten, it’s well worth it. Vacations are for experiencing things like that. Your overall vacation spending wasn’t really too bad, especially considering you brought along a babysitter.

    1. Yes, it was definitely worth it. I really love good food and am not a great cook. I love eating out~ for special occasions of course.

  8. Sounds like a really fun time. Sometimes you just can’t help it but spend a lot at a nice restaurant. Crab claws would definitely do it 🙂 But hey, you kind of compensated for that in your entertainment budget. Welcome back!

    1. Crab claws are my all time favorite gulf coast food- only sauteed though, not fried. I love them!

  9. Eating out on vacations is always the biggest budget buster for me every time I’m lucky enough to take one. You don’t wanna be frugal on vacation! So you get the extra drink and dessert and it all ads up. Glad you had a nice time! Cute kids!

  10. Look like an amazing vacation ! I wonder if your 1 year old enjoyed eating sand? haha. And it was a lot on going out to eat, but it’s not like you spend that much when you’re at home and your entertainment budget was nonexistent, so give yourself a break 🙂

  11. Your youngest must be about the same age as our little one! She’s 14 months and has that same “baby mullet!” It’s soooo cute! What a sweet little family you have, Holly! Looks like you had a great vacation! I’m sure the girls loved the giant sandbox. 😉 In your video, you asked “why is it doing that?” and I actually am a huge geek that knows the answer! Barnacles are madddd itchy! Whales jump up high and belly flop down to smack the water and get some relief from the itchy barnacles. My boys watch a little Animal Planet… 😉

    1. Ours is 15 months old and she is a little stinker!!!

  12. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip! I know my wife and I are looking forward to getting away here in the next month…there is nothing quite like vacationing and not having any responsibilities again.

    The dolphin video was awesome; thanks for sharing!

  13. You had your own private (or semi-private) Sea World with that show. Taking the babysitter along must have been a HUGE part of enjoying the trip. Our neighbor just returned from Europe with a family (how great would THAT babysitting job be?). My parents unfortunately didn’t get so lucky: they brought the babysitter along exactly once and unfortunately, she decided to have a meltdown in the middle of our vacation.

    1. Ugh- that stinks!

      Yes, going to Europe for free would be awesome!

  14. thewildwong says:

    Welcome back, Holly! Loved the dolphin video–who needs Sea World when you can see them in their own natural habitat? Majestic!
    And your last paragraph put a smile on my face 🙂

  15. Sounds like you had a great vacation. Don’t worry about going over budget by eating at restaurants. It’s your vacation, so you’ve gotta live it up! Plus, you were way under budget for entertainment so it pretty much evens out. Glad to hear you had a good time! 🙂

  16. I can’t believe you guys did all this for just over $1,000! I want to go on vacation again. The video of the dolphins jumping was a great touch!

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