I will be on vacation this summer, and although we thought we might go to Washington, DC or some other location, it simply won’t work out to be gone for long given all the other activities that the kids have going. Our daughter has a soccer game on Sunday of one weekend and something the following weekend. We didn’t want to drive all day on Friday and expect her to have to be somewhere on Saturday, so we would have only had from Monday to Thursday at best.
Of course, wanting to pay off debt and keep costs reasonable is another consideration so only taking a few days away should help on that front as well. Ultimately, we decided that we would head to Cedar Point in Ohio and enjoy the roller coasters for a few days. So, with that in mind, I want to estimate what the cost might be for the trip.
Outlining the Costs
The plan will be to leave after the soccer game and drive to Cedar Point, so gas expenses will be one cost. We will need to have a place to stay Sunday night. We plan to spend two days at Cedar Point and won’t want to drive home on Tuesday late, so that means Monday and Tuesday night lodging as well. Since we have 6 kids, that either means two rooms or a large enough suite. We will have to look into suite options.
Of course, entry into the park is an expense as is food. Breakfast will be at the hotel before leaving for the park. Dinner can be had after leaving the park with either lunch or snack type foods in the park. It might be possible to pack some sandwiches or something as well. We will have to see how that works out, but will budget otherwise.
The final cost will be to have someone staying at our house to watch the dogs and the two puppies that are there. This shouldn’t be as costly as boarding them, but will have to be considered as well.
Knowing what I know about hotels and where we might end up, I am estimating $150 per night per room or $300 per night for 3 nights of lodging. We will probably stay somewhat close to the park so will be in a resort area which is why I have added some cost. Plus, I have to figure that there might be some sort of special hotel tax or something.
I am estimating $50 per person per day to get into the park so that would add up to $800 for admissions. Hopefully, there might be a way to snag a discount.
Knowing the cost to feed 8 people on the road, I am figuring $200 per day for food or $600 total. Breakfast can often be the hotel breakfast. We will probably eat a little in the park and try to find something better afterwards for one good meal each day. Hopefully, this is an over-estimate.
Gasoline prices have come down (I saw it at $3.45 per gallon this morning), but I will still use 15 miles per gallon and $4.00 per gallon cost in my estimates. It looks like it is 300 miles one-way. Of course, the soccer game will add some miles so let me figure 800 miles. That means I would need 53 gallons of gas so fuel costs will be $220.
Finally, I will be having someone stay at the house with the dogs and caring for them. It will be easier than boarding them. That will cost $150 or so.
Total for Trip
Park Tickets: $800
Grand Total: $2670
That is about what it might have cost to rent a house for a week had we gone elsewhere. And the good news is that I won’t be putting it on credit. I may use a card for convenience, but I have the funds available to pay for the trip whereas it might have been a stretch to do something bigger.
I will keep the receipts and update you on the actual cost of the trip when we return.
In the meantime, do you have any vacation plans for the summer? Any big trips? Feel free to share in the comments.
I have some vacation time at the beginning of June, and the plan was to drive to Washington, DC with the family and take in some of the sites and monuments in the capital of the United States. We were planning on driving since flying with 6 kids is a non-starter. The round trip mileage to the city from our house would be about 635 miles. I would estimate another 60 miles per day running around since we would likely stay in the suburban area. The grand total mileage would then be estimated to be about 1700 miles when the trip is completed.
Again, having 6 kids means need room for 8 people plus the associated luggage. We have a Chevy Suburban which would get about 17 miles to the gallon on average. So let’s assume 100 gallons of gasoline would be needed to complete the trip. At $4 per gallon, that would be $400 in fuel costs.
The alternative might be to travel to Mackinac Island in Michigan. The mileage to travel there would be 510 miles one way. Furthermore, there would be minimal additional mileage to get around in the main part of town. The island itself does not allow cars so we would take a ferry across and commute by bicycle or walking. So, I would estimate about 1100 total miles for the trip which would require about 65 gallons of gasoline. At the same $4 per gallon estimate, the fuel costs would be $260.
I am not sure that this would be a make or break difference overall, so another determining factor may very well end up being lodging or the expense of activities in the area.
Doing the Math
I am glad that I undertook this exercise because it really doesn’t seem like the distances are enough different to warrant a change of plans. However, I must confess that no firm plans or reservations had been made.
The other suggestion was going to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. This is only 300 miles away so the fuel cost could be decreased even farther to about $165. This might be worth considering provided a decent place to stay could be found.
With such a large crew, we often will rent a house on vacation so that we can shop at the grocery and cook meals. This saves quite a bit of money versus eating in restaurants. Saving money where possible is key since the cost for attractions can add up rather quickly.
Ultimately, I want to make sure that we have some fun but, at the same time, control costs and not add any debt to fund the trip.
My family and I recently returned from a trip to the Dallas, Texas area. While we were there, one of the things that we did was went on a “money factory” tour meaning that we went to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) facility in Fort Worth, TX and saw how paper currency was printed. I found it quite interesting and almost disturbing that the website for the US BEP is at moneyfactory.gov.
Fortunately, the tour was free which was a nice change of pace from having to pay admission prices for 8 people at some of the other attractions in the area. The security to get into the facility is much like that in an airport although I could keep my shoes on. There were no cameras or any other electronic devices allowed (like cell phones).
We started by watching a 15 minute film that explained the production and printing process. Then a tour guide took us through the facility to look down onto the printing floor and watch how the bills are made. We were counted at each stop along the tour even though we were in a contained hallway and not even close to the money. There were also plenty of security cameras.
Afterward, we took the time to look through the exhibits on the two floors outside the production area. It was a small little museum that had some history and explained the printing process in more detail. There is also a little gift shop as well.
All in all, it was a fun afternoon and very educational. I would recommend it if you are ever in the area. I would leave about 3-4 hours at most. It is not something that would require all day, but when the temperature is over 100 degrees outside, free indoor activities are great!
Now there are probably a lot of things that could be said about fiat currency, the Federal Reserve, inflation, etc. I plan on saving that for a different post in the future. If you want to offer up any comments on those topics, however, I am certainly willing to discuss.
What are some fun things that you have done on vacation, especially that were free?