My wife and I first came to Florida on our honeymoon. It was only the second time either of us had travelled on a plane. I booked the trip through the travel agent at our favorite department store for about $800. That included airfare on Northwest Airlines, a Pontiac Sunfire rental car, and 7 nights stay at the beautiful Westwood Winfield Inn near Orlando.
All week long we tracked every expense on a trusty index card. How much we paid for meals, gas for the car, and theme park tickets. No expense – regardless of how small – escaped the accounting. I have that card at home in a box of keepsakes and can confirm it includes every ice cream bar, orange juice, or souvenir magnet we bought at a tacky Kissimmee gift shop (still there).
Some of the items were recorded with the cents, not a dollar sign!
This year’s extended vacation to Florida is completely different. I told my wife when we got down here that we are not even going to discuss the cost of park tickets, dinners out, or day trips. We’re just going to enjoy ourselves, as if everything was offered to us as free. Any spending we do will be covered later with “fun money” from paid board work that I’ve done.
I thought it would be fun because while we haven’t tracked expenses on an Index card for some time, we do have the habit of mentally noting (and talking about) how much we spend as we go. We’ve never allowed ourselves to vacation ‘without limits’. This time, I just wanted to be able to say “let’s do this, let’s do that, and we’ll see what it adds up to later … if at all”.
I don’t honestly worry that we will get back and find we’ve spent way too much of our retirement savings. I don’t see we have suddenly upgraded our ‘vacation lifestyle’ just because we aren’t tracking our costs. When we got our rental car (a Toyota RAV4), I briefly considered upgrading to the Mustang GT Convertible, but it was the lack of space – not cost – that prevented the switch.
Like everything, there is a time and place for daily budgeting, tracking, and being a responsible adult. When you are just starting out, those actions are especially important.
Thankfully, for us, that time has long passed. Now is the time to just enjoy our time together – without the worries of planning and saving for the future. We are so blessed to be able to do so!
Do you still carefully track vacation expenses?