One of Andrew’s most significant concerns, when we decided to visit Hawaii for our babymoon, was how it would affect our budget. Obviously, babies are expensive, and he was concerned that maybe this isn’t the right time for us to take a big vacation. Like with our Dominican Republic vacation last summer, I knew we could “travel hack” our way to a more affordable trip yet still have the babymoon of our dreams!
To start: we currently save $200 per month for an annual vacation, so our goal budget was $2,400. This money is automatically transferred from our checking account to our savings account every month. When I am setting our monthly budget, I don’t even remember it! (We will increase this amount once Baby C arrives since family vacations for 3 will be more expensive!)
When picking a travel destination and calculating our budget, I always consult a website called Budget Your Trip. It gives you a sample budget based on your destination, travel style, vacation length, and the number of travelers. From there, it breaks down the budget into different category costs, such as lodging, food, entertainment, etc. For reference, I tend always to budget our trips somewhere in between the “cheap” style (which estimated $1,293 for 2 people to spend a week in Oahu for 2) and mid-range (which suggested a $3,729 budget.) Since my goal budget of $2,400 fell in the middle of this range, I felt confident that with a little hard work in searching out deals, we would stay within budget.
What We Spent:
Hotel: $386.36 plus 132,678 Chase Sapphire points
Parking for our rental car in Hawaii and gasoline: $193 (We parked at a parking garage across the street from our hotel for $100 a week and filled up our cars on-post at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter for discounted gas!)
Flights: 69,657 Southwest Rapid Rewards points plus $22.40 for taxes
Spending Money/Souvenirs: $250
Minneapolis Airport Parking: $152
Pet Boarding: $440 (For a hot minute after paying the kennel, we contemplated being a pet-less family. Not going to lie, that thought still tempts us now and again 😉 )
Miscellaneous: $375 (We had to buy a new suitcase, new swimsuits and swim sandals, reef-safe sunscreen, an SD card since my dog ate the other one, etc. We shouldn’t need to buy any of this on our next trip!)
Yes, this trip was a little over the $2,400 we had originally budgeted, but we are 100% okay with that! We know that just as life requires flexibility, so does a good budget!
(We also opted to have professional maternity photos done in Hawaii by Stephanie, but we accounted for those in our baby budget category instead.)
By using travel points + military discounts, we saved:
Rental car: $425.88 (We booked through USAA’s portal to get a military discount and then reimbursed ourselves through Barclaycard travel points, making our out-of-pocket cost $0!)
Flights: approximately $1,800
Excursions: $86 (We bought our USS Missouri and luau tickets through the MWR at Fort Shafter and also used a military discount at Iolani Palace)
Food: I’m not sure how much we saved, but we tried to remember to ask for military discounts if possible
Gasoline: I’m also not sure how much we saved in gasoline since I didn’t keep track of the off-post versus on-post prices, other than recalling that on-post was about 20 or 30 cents less per gallon.
Total saved: $3,970.36
When I shared about our Dominican Republic vacation budget last year, a few people commented that our trip budget was unrealistic for civilian families since we booked our hotel and excursions through the Armed Forces Vacation Club. I understand that viewpoint, but travel discounts for everyone exist through sites like AAA or Groupon Travel. And of course, travel rewards points don’t discriminate 😉
This time around, for our Hawaiian vacation, I booked nearly everything through “normal” websites like Chase Ultimate Rewards’ travel portal and Southwest Airlines’ website. Although I did book our rental car through USAA, you can easily get a similar discount by booking through AAA. I’d estimate that we saved $100 at most through military discounts, which… don’t get me wrong, we’re grateful for but isn’t exactly a massive chunk of change.
Overall, my goal in writing and sharing these vacation budget posts is to show you that you can travel on a budget. Life is short, and we want to experience as much of it as we can while we can. For our family, travel and experiences are a higher priority than having a beautiful house, fancy cars, or expensive clothes. Instead of waiting until we could afford it “someday,” we arranged our budget to make “someday” today.