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  1. Default Daily budgeting for family of 4


    I was hoping to draw on some "local" knowledge to try and put my daily budget together for our trip next month.

    Coming from Scandinavia, we have previously just thought that our outlay on gas and food will be "cheaper than home", but I'm trying to put together a list of normal daily expenses for a family of 4, and don't really know the average US prices.
    Can anyone give me a pointer as to if these prices are way under/over estimated?


    Gas average $20 daily (2500 miles in a Grand caravan at 21 mpg average)
    Breakfast/Lunches - $30 for breakfast,sandwiches, water bought in supermarkets
    Dinner and other food - $120 per day including tips
    Hotel $130 per night (family rooms)

    Our trip takes us from SFO to LA, then Sedona, Grand Canyon, Vegas, Yosemite and back to SFO over 22 days.
    I know that we will have to allow extra for hotels in San Francisco and LA, and also extra for trips like Universal, and park fees, but anyone know if there is anything way off in my guesstimates so far?

    Thanks in advance


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Fuel - there is a fuel cost estimator on this website. Gas is crawling up in price again, so if it were me, I would use $3/gallon.

    Breakfast - a lot of hotels offer continental breakfasts, these days. Not all of them, but quite a few.

    Lunches - I would agree that getting sandwich makings from a supermarket would be a great thing for a family of 4. Sandwiches from the store -- if the store has a deli, they often sell a footlong or 18" sandwich that can be shared by a family for $6-9.

    Dinner - about right.

    Hotels - you're probably right on unless you are sharing a 2-bed room with a rollaway, which might be less expensive. EXCEPT anywhere near the national parks you mention (GC, Yosemite) and the resort towns (Sedona, Vegas). You may be able to find cheaper in San Francisco and LA, though I doubt it. You will need to budget higher, there. You can check some hotel costs using the Lodging feature on this website.

    Park fees -- GC and Yosemite will set you back $30 each. Universal -- well, count on about $400 for the family for just entrance fees, around $100 per day per person. It's just gone up in price due to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Oh -- expect big crowds there, because it's a new attraction, this year.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A family of four can mean many things.

    I'd tend to agree with Donna, if the children are primary school age. However, if the children are teenage boys - who typically have *hollow legs* - I would up the food costs more than a little.


  4. Default

    Thanks both.

    Seems that I'm not too far off. Thinking about it, I know the prices of the hotels in LA and SFO are a lot higher, so being as I booked them already, I can probably take them out of the daily budget, along with the price of the Universal tickets (then I won't feel that I just blew 4 days budget in 1 day!!)

    The kids are 11 and 8, and given the price of food here in Scandinavia, they are not used to seeing big plates of food! - But I will probably add $20 a day for small icecream and drinks stops I guess..

    1 other question. I've heard about Motel 6 as being affordable motels. I also saw they got an app for booking, which looks like it can be useful. What other reliable chain motels would be good to bear in mind?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Basic Motel Options

    If you're looking for 'reliable' nation-wide hotel/motel chains there are several, but some of the largest are: Accor (Red Roof, Motel 6, Mercure and others); Choice (EconoLodge, Comfort Inns and Suites, Quality Inns and others); Marriott (Marriott, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield and others); Hilton (Hampton, Homewood Suites, Hilton and others); and Holiday Inn. Each of those chains offers brands that cater to a different portion of the traveling public from the budget-conscious to those seeking luxury. Best Western is another large 'chain' that works on a somewhat different model, franchising the national 'brand' to locally owned and operated properties. I usually suggest that people do a bit of research on the prices and level of services of those chains and if they find one that meets their needs, sign up for that chain's reward program so that they have the possibility of earning themselves a free night's stay along the way. They should all offer web-based booking.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-03-2016 at 12:14 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You forgot Wyndham (Super 8, Days Inn, Travelodge, Ramada, Knights Inn, Baymont, Microtel, and others). Accor no longer owns Motel 6 or Red Roof, they have very little US presence these days.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    My husband and I are members of both Choice and Wyndham property chains. For Choice, we like the Econo Lodge and Quality Inn. With Wyndham, our "go-to" is usually Super 8, with an occasional Day's Inn. But when choosing something on the fly, with a coupon, we've also tried Comfort Inn (Choice), Ramada (Wyndham) and Travelodge (Wyndham). Very occasionally, particularly around the tourist areas, we have stayed in some mom-and-pop's. Those have been a "mixed bag", occasionally getting a really good deal, and other times, not so much. We've tried America's Best Value Inns, which are often older properties that may or may not be in the best shape. Yes, occasionally Motel 6's, though not very often.

    Lifey, I have to giggle. You're right, I had assumed not-so-big eaters, kids like my grandkids. However, I have students (elementary students) that can out-eat my husband!


  8. Default

    Hi again,

    Based on your excellent feedback yesterday, I put a budget together, which might be useful for anyone else (just ignore our currency conversions at the end)



  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Is your rental car already covered?


  10. Default

    Yes, car and flight is already paid up front. I also took an external insurance cover, so the cost oIs known. As I understand, US Car rental cover is different to The European version (we normally just pay a premium to waive the excess in case of a crash)

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