Budget Travel in 2021

Alright we are back home in Hawaii, nearly caught up with reclaiming our home from the Jumanji-like jungle that had taken over. Twenty-seven nights away from home and I had really started to miss it. But now that I’ve been back for a few weeks, I’m ready to start traveling again. Van-life is the current obsession. I think I might have a problem.

This last trip was REALLY great! We started out on the West Coast visiting family and friends. We hadn’t seen these friends or family for years because of the pandemic. Then we flew to Cancun, rented a car, and road tripped around the Yucatan for 12 days. We stayed in beautiful colonial towns, swam in cenotes, ate incredibly delicious food, hung out on the beach, and visited Mayan ruins. It was seriously amazing. Lastly, we flew back to the mainland to attend a CampFI. It was our first time meeting FIRE friends after being on this path for 2 years. I can’t recommend it enough. A whole weekend among people that share our philosophy of frugality- it was a breath of fresh air.

But since we are money Nerds, we NEED to know how much we spent. This trip was a lot of flying, staying in fancy Airbnb’s, eating at really nice restaurants, and renting cars when they are seriously expensive. Overall, we spend 49 person days traveling- this is an awkward way to put it but my trip was 5 days longer than Mr. Nerds. The cost per person per day was $97.40 and 2,622 miles. In total the trip was $4,772 and 128,463 miles. Not including travel miles, that’s about double what we normally spend at home. So if we travelled like this 100% of the time, we would need double our FIRE budget plus a good strategy for travel hacking. Wow!

There are a few reasons why I think full time travel could easily cost us much less than this.

  • Many places we travel to, don’t require a rental car- like most cities and countries with good public transportation.
  • We would be traveling slower, taking less flights, getting a discount for long term rentals, and living like a local.
  • If we did Vanlife, we wouldn’t need a rental car, flights, and accommodations.
  • If we did Housesitting, we could get free accommodations.
  • We sort of went all out on this trip. We normally don’t eat at restaurants more than a couple times a month- if that- but on this trip we were dining out most of the time. Although the prices were seriously amazing because much of the dining out was in Mexico- it was still more expensive than it needed to be. We pretty quickly got sick of eating at restaurants so much and I got to shop in the amazing Mexican grocery stores.
  • We also got a fancier place in Tulum because we were planning to split the cost with family but they ended up canceling and we ended up paying the full price for it.
  • CampFI also increased the regular cost significantly, $990 for the tickets, and a lot of travel points for accommodations and rental car to get there. It was definitely worth it, but it was more than we would normally spend on a 3 day trip.
AccommodationsDollarsTravel Points
Family (6 nights)0
FS Campground (3 nights)68
Vallodolid (2 nights)39.21
Merida (5 nights)174.92
Tulum (4 nights)441.17
More Accomodations
LA (1 night)010085
HNL (1 night)139317
Camp FI (3 nights)990
Home To Mainland (2)548.42
Family -CUN (2)1122.68
Cancun – LAX (2)025491
LAX – HNL (2)458
HNL- Home (2)11.210656
Rental Cars
Family Visit (9 days)041692
CUN (11 days)140
LAX (4 days)031222
Food, Gas, Incidentals
Cash in Mexico324.42
Credit Card purchases341.58
Cash with Family100
A breakdown of our expenses, in dollars and miles.

What do you think? Am I being delusional thinking that we can spend less on full time travel? Should I be congratulating myself for having spent so little on such an epic vacation? Let me know in the comments.

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