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One thing that I enjoy doing is keeping track of my expenses.  It’s one of the reason why I was interviewed over at Budgets Are Sexy about my family budget

(SEE ALSO: What does a budget for a family of 8 look like?)

(SEE ALSO: How I eat for less than $1 / meal)

Naturally, this continues while we’re on vacation.  I do try to relax (a little) while on vacation, but I do think that you can have a successful vacation without breaking the bank

2015 Yellowstone trip: Expense report

Here are the expenses from our Yellowstone trip

PlacePoints UsedTransportationFoodGasEntertainmentLaundryNotes
TOTALSHow I spent 350,401 miles and points$100.00$238.99$111.28$99.29$15.99
Little Caesars$10.00
Holiday Inn Express27,000 IHG Points15,000 points * 2 rooms with 10% points rebate
Amtrak50,000 Chase Points ( transferred to Amtrak)$30.00$10 for breakfast tip, $20 for dinner
(SEE ALSO: Tipping on Amtrak
Mcdonalds$8.93
Amtrak$5.00$50.00$15 for breakfast tip, $15 for lunch, $20 for dinner, $5 for sleeping car attendant
Wynkoop$45.00Parking Garage 3 cars * $15 due to having to have my brothers-in-law get my car because my Amtrak train was so late
Hyatt House10,000 Chase Points (transferred to Hyatt)$5.00We got free laundry soap from the Holiday Inn Express in Perrysburg. This was $2 for washing 2 loads and $3 for drying 3 loads (one load wouldn't dry all the way)
King Soopers$11.99Birthday cake
Mcdonalds$14.09
Kum and Go$29.44
Kum and Go$26.93
Little Caesars$15.75
King Soopers$2.36
Quality Inn5,333 Chase Points (transferred to Amtrak and then Choice)8,000 points * 2 rooms
Shell$23.978.268 gallons
Shell$18.66
Smith's$23.46
Smith's$5.30Sunglasses for Carolyn as she left hers in the van in Toledo 😀
Holiday Inn Express36,000 IHG Points20,000 points * 2 rooms with 10% points rebate
Yellowstone NPS$60.002 $30 car passes
Rodeway Inn and Suites5,333 Chase Points (transferred to Amtrak and then Choice)16000 points * 1 room
Cenex Kremers$32.73
Cenex Kremers$38.3913.019 gallons
Cenex Zip$32.4910.173 gallons
Walmart$30.37$5.99
Econo Lodge6,666 Chase points (transferred to Amtrak and then Choice)$5.00
Cenex Zip$25.38
Dairy Queen$18.65
Econo Lodge5,333 Chase Points (transferred to Amtrak and then Choice)8,000 points * 2 rooms
Loaf N Jug$23.009.432 gallons; saved 30c / gal with Kroger fuel points
Loaf N Jug$27.9011.44 gallons; saved 30c / gal with Kroger fuel points
Mt. Rushmore$22.00$11 / car
Little Caesars$16.05
Holiday Inn Express36,000 IHG Points20,000 points * 2 rooms with 10% points rebate
Avis10,229 Barclay Arrival miles$113.66 - 11,366 Barclay points - 10% rebate
Avis10,229 Barclay Arrival miles$113.66 - 11,366 Barclay points - 10% rebate
Denver Museum of Nature and Science$0.00Our ASTC membership saved us $89.60
Corner Store$37.3614.265 gallons @ $2.619
Corner Store$29.4711.253 gallons @ $2.619
Wendy's$19.33
Amtrak50,000 Chase Points ( transferred to Amtrak)
Holiday Inn Express27,000 IHG Points15,000 points * 2 rooms with 10% points rebate

So total cash expenses were $799.99 (I swear it just came out that way!  Sounds like the price of a new couch :-D).  Though I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that while on our trip we also found 3 quarters, 8 dimes, 4 nickels and 28 pennies for a total of $2.03.  And, while we were in the parking lot at the Yellowstone Visitor’s Center, there was a group that was ending a week-long hike and wanted to get rid of stuff that they didn’t want to ship back, so we got a free tarp, tent and volleyball/badminton set

Points used on the trip

We used 350,401 points for this trip – (SEE ALSO: How I spent 350,401 miles and points), broken down as follows:

I’m noticing that the math doesn’t seem to add up, but… I’m just going to go with it ;-).  Part of that is probably due to the rebates from Barclay and IHG, and then there’s the question of whether you count that as 25,000 Chase points or 75,000 Choice Hotels points.

The value of points

So, looking at the points that we used, let’s compare that to the cash cost of what we would have spent.  As I booked each of our 8 hotels, I also wrote down the cash cost of a booking on the night(s) we stayed there.

(SEE ALSO: Ranking the 8 hotels we stayed at on our vacation)amtrak-6500-fare-big

  • Amtrak trip – our 100,000 points saved us $6540 – (SEE ALSO: My (free) $6500 family train vacation on Amtrak)
  • Holiday Inn Express Perrysburg.  2 nights * 2 rooms * $151.23 cost = $604.92
  • Hyatt House Colorado Springs. 2 rooms * $112.99 = $225.98
  • Quality Inn Rock Springs – 2 rooms * 89.99 = $179.98
  • Holiday Inn Express Idaho Falls – 2 rooms * $197.74 = $395.48
  • Rodeway Inn and Suites, Gardiner MT – $290 for 1 room
  • Econo Lodge Miles City – 2 rooms * 107.78 = $215.56
  • Econo Lodge Belle Fourche – 2 rooms * 101.13 = $202.26
  • Holiday Inn Express Torrington – 2 rooms * $131.71 = $263.42
  • Avis – 2 cars for a week * $113.66 = $227.32

Total cost saved by our 350,401 points was $9,144.92.  Not bad!

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