You want to enjoy your vacation and take your mind of your daily worries. In order to do that it usually helps to budget beforehand, so you have a good idea where your money needs to be spent and what you can use for "fun.." A little bit of advance planning means that you can come back from your holiday well rested without your credit cards unexpectedly overdrawn.
Take your length of vacation and multiply by an average daily rate: $15 for camping, $50 for a budget hotel, $80 for a mid-range hotel, and $150 for a luxury hotel (of course, these rates can be higher in some cities). Popular bed & breakfast accommodation includes breakfast for a price of a budget to mid-range hotel. You may be able to save 10 to 20 percent by using your company's corporate rate, using your frequent flyer miles or your automobile club.
The cost of a meal depends on where you are travelling, the level of service, and the meal itself. You might et a breakfast for $4 - $6, lunch for $7 to $11 dollars and dinner for $12 to $17 dollars, excluding drinks. To cut back on food costs, eat lunches in fancy restaurants instead of dinners, eat at fast food restaurants for some meals, or cook your own meals ( or get fresh deli meats and have a picnic).
Use your mileage for your car to estimate your fuel efficiency. Don't forget to pro-rate highway miles versus "city" miles, but also add about 10 percent for side-trips. gas prices vary around the country (see our Road Conditions page for price comparisons) but are generally lower in the more competitive larger cities.
You may wish to give your kids a special allowance, say $10 a week, which they should not spend on things they can get at home.
Stock up on film before heading on a long trip. Many discount or grocery stores may sell film for $5 or less a roll of 36 exposure 35 mm film. This price can easily double when you need to buy film at a popular resort or attraction. Don't forget to budget for developing, which can average $9 a roll. A good rule of thumb is that each finished photo has cost you $1. You can save money with pre-paid processing milers, which let you mail each film as its finished and your developed photos are often ready when you return home.
Plan your entertainment options before leaving. Many tourist bureaus have web sites with up-to-date information. Many festivals charge $5 to $10 at the gate, and many amusement parks can cost $20 or more per person (per day). If you want to head our without the children, you'll need to budget for a babysitter (which most hotels can arrange). Don't forget the little things like reading materials and in-car games for the kids.
These pop up on every vacation and can make a vacation more memorable or in some cases a disaster. You may have car trouble or bad weather may ruin a camping trip, for example. Credit cards may help in most cases, but there are times when only cash will do, so keep $100 or $200 in cash or travellers cheques on hand. Be sure to divide emergency cash amongst the adults to minimize the risk of loss.