Weekend Finance: Quarterly Update on Travel Spending in Jan, Feb & March 2019

Welcome to Weekend Finance, a series peeling back the curtain on the finances behind The Weekend Jetsetter. Following the overwhelming popularity on my post about how much I spent on travel in 2018, I decided that spending updates probably deserve more than an annual recap. So I’m going to be doing them quarterly!

The first three months of this year were pretty crazy – I celebrated my 30th birthday, took my first weekend trip to Asia and spent a lot of weekends locked in my apartment studying for my microeconomics and statistics MBA classes. It was definitely a balancing act to manage it all, on top of a busy quarter at work.

By the Numbers: 2019 Trips (Q1)

  • One-way Flights: 4 (including 2 for work)
  • Road Trips within California: 2
  • Nights Away from Home (Including Red-Eye Flights): 9
  • Nights in hotels, hostels, campsites or vacation rentals: 9
  • Foreign Countries: 1
  • US States & Territories Outside CA: 0

How Much I Spent on Travel in Q1 2019: Month by Month Spending Breakdown

January

January was a month of spontaneity. Not only did I take a last-minute weekend trip to a coastal CA town called San Luis Obispo, but I took the plunge and decided to arrange my first weekend trip to Asia. Now that I live on the west coast of the US, it was bound to happen right?!

Nick and I booked a hotel in SLO that was around $405.80 for two nights. Definitely more than we normally spent on the hotel front, but after so much holiday travel I was craving a mini vacation. If you’re traveling on a holiday weekend in coastal CA, the only affordable options are grungy motels which were not on the itinerary this time around. I paid for the hotel myself and Nick picked up the tab for some of our other activities throughout the weekend. We split around $100 for gas round trip since we spent much of the weekend in the car, driving around sightseeing.

Watching the surfers at Pismo Beach was free!

My flight to Hong Kong was paid for with points earned through my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, so I spent $0. The flight was surprisingly affordable at around 30k points – similar to a domestic trip within the US. I also booked a private room in a hostel for three nights and made the initial deposit of $40.

Finally, had to make the final deposit on the Lake Tahoe house I rented for my 30th birthday in February. Since it was a group trip, my payment should have totaled around $150 but because we were a couple people short of who had initially RSVP’d I ended up with more like a $400 bill. Definitely an unexpected wrench in my travel budget and a tad more than where I was at this time year (only $6!).

Total Travel Spending: $895.80

February

February was a little bit of a better month for me on the travel spending front, even with a few curveballs.

I’d booked a house in Lake Tahoe for President’s Day weekend, but there was a massive storm on Friday night that prevented us from getting up there on time. Our group ended up staying in a motel in Sacramento for $139, which I covered as I assumed I’d be able to get some sort of travel insurance for. We woke up bright and early (5:45am!) the next day and made it to Tahoe.

Once we got to Tahoe, we were met by a winter wonderland!

Fortunately, Airbnb was willing to refund our first night at the Tahoe house due to the weather emergency, which amounted to $465. Since I’d already paid $400 for the house plus $139 for the Sacramento motel, I pocketed the refund to help even out my January spending spree. In terms of transportation, we drove there in our own car and Nick paid the gas since it was my birthday.

I also traveled to Los Angeles in February for a day for work, but didn’t have to spend any of my own personal money.

Total Travel Spending: ($326) or $0

March

The view from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong

In March, I paid the balance on my Hong Kong hostel when I arrived ($229). And that’s it!

This series looks only at what I spent on actual travel and accommodations vs. activities, since I usually argue that I spend roughly the same amount when I’m traveling vs. not for a weekend. I love going out to eat and doing fun activities where I live so unless I’m booking some sort of wildly expensive tour, which is rare, I don’t count those expenditures as “travel spending.” But it’s worth noting that my weekend in Hong Kong was ridiculously cheap – I took out approximately $400 USD before going and was able to get 3 massages for the price of 1 in Berkeley, eat out at restaurants for every meal, take the subway everywhere. It probably helped that I took two free walking tours!

Total Travel Spending: $229

Total Travel Spending in Q1:

  • January: $895.80
  • February: ($326)
  • March: $229
  • Total: $798.80 (Slightly less than the $821.60 I spent this time last year)

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