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When you factor in all the obvious and hidden costs of a vacation, and then express that as an hourly cost for the 'quality hours' of your vacation, the hourly rate is very high.

This part of our series gives you some worksheets so you can accurately cost out your own planned vacation.

 
 
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How Much to Spend on a Vacation part 2

Work out the total true cost of your vacation and the value of your time while traveling
 

Time to put on your accountant's shade and get out your calculator, so as to best figure out your vacation costs and the value of your vacation time.

Part two of a five part series on how to budget and plan for a vacation.  See also :

1.  An introduction to the philosophy of travel cost budgeting

2.  Understanding the true cost of your vacation and what this means

3.  Using the true cost figure and knowing when you should spend a little more on travel costs

4.  Balancing the time and cost of your vacation - how less can be more

5.  What quality level to choose, and the importance of including a special highlight in your vacation

 

 

The true and total cost of a vacation is almost certainly very much more than you think.

But the greater than expected cost is not necessarily a reason to economize on the components of your vacation.  Rather, it provides a benchmark to understand what you're paying, and to contrast that cost with what you're getting in return.

Use the forms in this part of our five part series to work out what your vacation will be costing you.

Understanding the True Cost of Your Vacation

The results of this concept might astonish you, and perhaps because of the surprising nature of what follows, it is a key issue to understand.

Let's say, as an example, that the two of you are off to London for a week. Perhaps you bought a couple of bargain airfares that encouraged you to go to London for a week; but now let's consider what your actual total cost of that one week vacation will be, and then express that in terms of each hour of 'quality time' in London.

For this example, you travel to London on a Friday evening after first working that day, getting in to London on a Saturday mid morning, and you fly home again on Saturday the next week early afternoon, getting home also on Saturday (this means you have only five days off work, but get to enjoy a week in London and still have Sunday at home before returning to work again the next Monday).  This is a typical and sensible schedule that many people choose.

Let's first look at the costs of your week away.

Here's a table that you can write your own costs in and do your own calculation as well.

Table 1 :  Total Cost of a One Week London Vacation

Item

Example

Your Cost

Air Fares (bargain airfare at $300 roundtrip)

600

 

Air Fare Taxes

400

 

Getting to and from your home airport, and perhaps airport parking as well

100

 

House sitting, animal sitting, any other extra costs incurred at home while you're away

100

 

Getting to and from the airport and hotel in London

120

 

Passenger 1 - cost of one week off work
(sure, it might be paid vacation, but it is also time you can't use for anything else and which can only be replaced by leave without pay)

1500

 

Passenger 2 - cost of one week off work

1000

 

Six nights standard quality hotel in London

1000

 

Six days basic food and drink

500

 

Six days of sightseeing

500

 

Six days of traveling around London

250

 

Six days of miscellaneous minor costs

300

 

Souvenirs, gifts, etc

300

 

Total cost before additional expenditures
(note that this comprises $2500 in 'opportunity costs' and $4170 in real cash costs)

$6670

 


Those $300 airfares that encouraged you to go on this vacation ended up with a vacation costing you, in total, $6670!

But that's not the real shocker of the calculation.  Let's look now at how this $6670 translates into what you're paying per hour of vacation time in London.  This is the key measure of your vacation time, and the key factor to consider in deciding what to do and how much to spend on doing it - the value to you per hour of quality vacation time.

Table 2 :  Actual Quality Time on a One Week London Vacation

Item

Example

Your Cost

Actual time in London in hours from when you arrive at the hotel on Saturday afternoon until when you leave for the airport on Saturday the next week)

163 hrs

 

Time spent asleep (six nights)

48 hrs

 

7 days of time for essential activities - eg showering, dressing, basic meal time, etc

21 hrs

 

7 days of time wasted on traveling to places, or just spent in the hotel room, or otherwise nonproductive

21 hrs

 

Packing and unpacking, getting ready to return home

3 hrs

 

Unproductive low quality time due to jetlag

10 hrs

 

Miscellaneous low quality and wasted time

7 hrs

 

Net 'Quality Time' on Vacation

53 hrs

 


And now for the shocker.  Divide the total cost of your vacation by the number of quality hours you have.  What is your answer?

Table 3 :  Cost per Quality Hour of Your Vacation

Item

Example

Your Cost

Total Vacation Cost from first table above

$6670

$

Net Quality Time from second table above

53 hrs

hrs

Your cost per quality hour
(total vacation cost divided by net quality time)

$125.85

$       /hr


Wow!  You're spending $126/hr in the example above for the actual quality time on your vacation.

What does this mean, and how can you use this information in planning and budgeting your vacation?  Read on!

Part two of a five part series on how to budget and plan for a vacation.  See also the other articles in this series :

1.  An introduction to the philosophy of travel cost budgeting

2.  Understanding the true cost of your vacation and what this means

3.  Using the true cost figure and knowing when you should spend a little more on travel costs

4.  Balancing the time and cost of your vacation - how less can be more

5.  What quality level to choose, and the importance of including a special highlight in your vacation

 

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Originally published 14 Nov 2008, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
Related Articles
Vacation Budgeting Strategies 1 - Introduction and Overarching Philosophy
Vacation Budgeting 2 - The True Cost of Your Vacation Time
Vacation Budgeting 3 - When to Spend a Little More
Vacation Budgeting 4 - Balancing Time and Cost Constraints
Vacation Budgeting 5 - Spending Enough
Vacation Planning Strategies
Packing Tips
 

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