4 reasons why my holidays often cost more than expected

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I’m the type of person who is careful about what I spend. Not only do I stick to a monthly budget, but I make it a point to budget for every vacation my family takes. This way I can try to work more up front and divert those extra funds to travel to avoid getting into debt.

Now, thankfully, I haven’t run up a credit card balance yet that I haven’t been able to pay in full as a result of a vacation. But did I go over my budget on a trip? That would be a resounding “yes”.

In fact, more often than not, I find that the amount of money I spend on travel is more than I budgeted for. So I thought about it and found out that these are the top four reasons.

1. I find it hard to say no to my children.

Please believe me when I say my kids aren’t spoiled. They help around the house, they only really get gifts for birthdays or during the holidays, and they don’t tend to make unreasonable demands when it comes to wanting new things. (When it comes to staying up until midnight on a school night or asking for junk food for dinner, that’s a different story.)

So when we’re on vacation, I don’t like to say no when my kids ask if they can buy a modest souvenir or if we can stop at a nice candy store (even though we have access to lower prices). costs candy at our Costco or local supermarket). For me, being on vacation is having a little fun. And so I tend to incur small but significant expenses that didn’t necessarily fit into my travel budget to begin with.

2. It’s easier to cook in my own kitchen than in a rental kitchen

These days, when we travel, we rarely stay in hotels. It’s easier for my family to spread out in a private vacation rental, and since we have a dog, renting from a private owner often means being able to take him along.

Because we tend to end up in rental homes with full kitchens, I often underestimate our food budget by assuming I’ll be doing a lot of cooking. Only, I realized that I can’t remember the last time I cooked in a kitchen that wasn’t mine.

The reality is that getting used to a new kitchen can be difficult. And when I’m on vacation, I don’t always feel like stopping at the supermarket or rummaging through someone else’s cupboards for the right pots and pans. But because I tend to assume I’ll be cooking more, I often break my vacation budget when my family inevitably ends up eating most of our meals out.

3. I like to taste local food

Along the lines of misjudging my vacation food spend, I happen to enjoy sampling local dishes and checking out the best bakeries, cafes, and ice cream parlors in town. And so I often end up spending more on food because exploring local restaurants actually serves me as entertainment.

4. I like to think outside the box

It’s pretty easy to budget for entertainment while you’re away if you’re going to a place like Disney World, because chances are your theme park tickets will be your only expense in the “stay busy” category. Because my family likes to visit random places, we don’t always know what entertainment is on offer until we get there. As a result, I will often end up spending more than expected.

Lesson learned

At this point, it’s pretty clear that I need to start increasing my trip-by-trip budget. But I’d rather do that than keep spending too much and scrambling after the fact (ie dipping into my savings).

Now that I am more aware of the above factors, I can take them into account and compensate in other ways, such as renting a slightly cheaper house to reduce this cost. Or, I can force myself to save more before my trips to give us more breathing room. Either solution seems reasonable to me – as long as it means enjoying our holiday to the fullest.

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