Almost a year ago I budgeted our trip (as we were steadily saving up!), and my estimate was roughly $7500. I was obviously keeping track of how much money I was withdrawing, but between kroner and cards, I really didn't know how close we were to matching our budget. I was amazed to find the final tally matched so closely:
Item Estimate Actual
4 flights to DK $4-5000 $3991 (on Icelandair)
Rental car $800 $910
Lodging none $388
Gas/ferry/parking none (whoops!) $350 (almost a hundred for ferry)
Sightseeing (Legoland) $500 $220
Meals/groceries $800 $650 restaurants, $450 groceries
Trains none $93 (just 5 days in Copenhagen!)
Souvenirs $200 $193 (included anything for us)
Gifts $150 (anything for family/friends)
Phone none $38
Transaction fees none $72
Total: $7300 $7505
While our expenses didn't mirror my estimate exactly (we saved on the flights and spent more on the rental car), it was pretty spot on. I was especially astonished because it's been 12 years since I lived there and I've never fed a family of four. The accuracy more of a fluke than a precise calculation, but I was sure happy to see that we spent what we predicted (we had saved more just in case too!) We also spent $515 on our passports, and I spend around $250 on gifts for family and friends.
There's a huge caveat to our budget, and I don't want to give you the impression that this is the typical budget for 3 weeks in Denmark. We stayed almost entirely with my host families, which saved us a ton of kroner. We stayed in youth hostels for 4 nights, and the rest of the time we stayed with some of the most beautiful Danes you could imagine. Our groceries covered breakfasts and lunches while we were on the road or at summer houses, and we only ate out for 7 dinners. This was really lucky, because restaurant meals cost us almost $100 (although we did have several pizza nights which cost closer to $50).
While we weren't extravagant, we were able to travel generously and without undue worry. Knowing upfront that we had saved for a few expensive meals made them more palatable (although truly the best meals were made by my lovely host families...yummy!)
Although we saved the full budget, we also had a little wiggle room due to our typical family budget. For example, we usually spend $650-750 a month on groceries and dining out, so our vacation expenses weren't too much higher. We also saved $900 on preschool tuition by having our Big Guy end a month early before starting Kindergarten.
In the end, I'm most satisfied that we were able to reach our family goal. The trip brought our family even closer together and created many fun stories and beautiful memories. But the part that Hubby didn't quite anticipate was how much he enjoyed getting to know all my host families and friends, and those relationships are worth everything!
How do you budget your family trips?
Do you account for costs that you would normally spend, like a grocery bill?
Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.