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Budgeting for US Spending


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#1 lozoodle

Posted 24 April 2019 - 06:41 PM

Hi, I was wondering if anyone could help me rough up a bit of a spending money budget for the US?

We will be spending 4 nights in anaheim, 1 night LA, 2 nights San Francisco and then 6 in Honolulu.

I'm thinking mainly in terms of just day to day stuff and food for a family of 5 (kids are 6, 8 and 10).  How does the cost of eating out compare to here? I don't need anything too fancy but I also don't want junk food constantly. We do have breakfast included for all of the mainland places with our accommodation which is a help.

All tours, transfers, various park entries and activities and car hire have been paid for all ready so that can be out of the equation.

Have you done a similar trip? Any hot tips? How much roughly do you think I should try to factor in for a daily food / ad hoc budget? In Honolulu we have an apartment with a full kitchen and I am more than happy to eat in most of the time apart from DP's birthday which is when we will be there.

#2 Apageintime

Posted 24 April 2019 - 06:49 PM

Cost of food is lower, but I find we eat out much much more

We budget $100AUD each, per day whenever we travel.

#3 lozoodle

Posted 24 April 2019 - 06:55 PM

Thanks! I was thinking $100-$150 so that sounds good to know others have done similar! I guess there will be ad hoc stuff like parking and things to consider too.

#4 Oriental lily

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:13 PM

I found eating out in downtown Disney fairly expensive . Especially when you add on tax and tips. These were just family type restaurants and found prices on par to a decent pub here .

There is a place called Mimi’s that’s just outride the Disney parks ( not part of downtown Disney ) that’s lovely . Very homely and good service .

When are you going ?. Me and my eldest daughter are going to California and Wisconsin at the start of October ! I went by myself in 2016 but going to love sharing with my daughter . She turns 16 while we are at Disney ! Make sure you go to Goofys kitchen . It’s very cheesy and the food is basic buffet but it’s heaps of fun with great interaction with Disney characters . Kids will love it !

#5 Leopard Cub

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:13 PM

I found eating out in the US really expensive (remember to add tax and tips to any advertised price). Most dinners I had recently were $23-$28 USD (tax and tip included), which once you convert to AUD, isn't cheap!

Their fast food is a lot cheaper, but obviously you don't want to eat that all the time.

#6 lozoodle

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:19 PM

Oriental Lily thanks for the tips! We are heading in just over 2 weeks, its getting exciting now :) Its DP's big 40th birthday present / celebration.

Leopard Cup I agree - I remember that from when we went to Canada, the adding of tax and bloody tips for everything! So annoying.

I'm so glad we opted for our own kitchen in honolulu. I know by then I'll be so sick of eating out anyway!

#7 Oriental lily

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:24 PM

Oh deffinetly and food in USA seems to be so rich and sweet ! I am staying for a week in Wisconsin at a friends house. She is a fantastic cook and cooks great traditional American meals . So much better than restaurant food !

Traditional burger joints  are pretty good . Just stay away from the franchises .

#8 littleboysmum

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:36 PM

Eating out at Disneyland is very expensive. No idea how you’d manage on $100-150 per day. Bottles of water, snacks, even a basic lunch/ breakfast at Starbucks was easily $80 for our family of 5. Then add in dinner and you’d easily be looking at 200 plus every day. We Spent a lot more, quite a lot more, but we also liked to eat at the nicer restaurants. Character meals will be a minimum of $200 for a family of 5 and that’s US.

#9 littleboysmum

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:37 PM

Sorry just realised you said $100 per person! That’s a much more realistic budget. The food is so expensive!

#10 dadwasathome

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:42 PM

Eating in for meals is expensive, but a bowl of chilli is good and filling (but what’s with crackers rather than bread, and sandwiches have so much protein you can possibly do one between two people.

I agree that $60AUD per day per person is reasonable for food.

And Five Guys isn’t bad for a burger chain.

Edited by dadwasathome, 24 April 2019 - 07:42 PM.


#11 2bundles

Posted 24 April 2019 - 07:53 PM

View PostApageintime, on 24 April 2019 - 06:49 PM, said:

Cost of food is lower, but I find we eat out much much more

We budget $100AUD each, per day whenever we travel.

ETA - oops just reread $100pp. That will be enough.

We did 4 weeks in the US 3mths ago. It was bloody expensive. I doubt you will get out of a single meal for 5 for for under $100Aus. Tipping is now 15-20%, exchange rate close to 30%, tax approx 15%.

I would be budgeting $250 aud /day for food, transit and incidentals. I would be surprised if you spend much less.

Edited by 2bundles, 24 April 2019 - 07:55 PM.


#12 lozoodle

Posted 24 April 2019 - 08:38 PM

Oh yeah I know Disney is another world and is like any of those places - captive audience and all that. we have 3 days there, we'll probably do our usual and load up at buffet breakfast (which is included where we are staying) and then just have something smallish in the day, dinner later on afterwards. But, who knows we shall see. I'm happy to spend a bit more there obviously as its an experience and all that, but I'm sure other days will work out cheaper and we can average that overall (eg Honolulu mostly home cooking).

They're good now at least they're not young and need snacks every 5 seconds like toddlers which is good. I think they'd drive me nuts if any younger haha

#13 ~THE~MAGICIAN~

Posted 24 April 2019 - 08:53 PM

I thought food was super expensive in the US. We visited 5 states and it was all much of a muchness really. The tipping now is suggested at 18% minimum. Such a pain after awhile.

Not to mention the food didn't measure up to our expectations. We had a few nice meals, but overall, the food was not great.

#14 José

Posted 24 April 2019 - 08:57 PM

agree that eating out is expensive in the us.
honolulu will be expensive also!

#15 dadwasathome

Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:01 PM

Out of interest, how do Hawaii prices compare to the mainland? DP and DS11 are flying over Friday week, admittedly meeting up with family and staying in big houses in Honolulu and Kona.

Not that I’m envious or anything....

Edited by dadwasathome, 24 April 2019 - 09:01 PM.


#16 lozoodle

Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:34 PM

Honolulu is pretty expensive for what it is... effectively the Gold Coast in the USA. Its why I was deadset against eating out every night. Still expensive but home cooking will be better (plus I'll feel better too!)

#17 dadwasathome

Posted 24 April 2019 - 09:41 PM

View Postlozoodle, on 24 April 2019 - 09:34 PM, said:

Honolulu is pretty expensive for what it is... effectively the Gold Coast in the USA. Its why I was deadset against eating out every night. Still expensive but home cooking will be better (plus I'll feel better too!)

Thanks. Currently trying to overcome my envy by planning an interesting trip or road trip around Christmas in Boston. Not sure yet that I want to risk snowy driving - May need to fly south after Christmas

#18 jayskette

Posted 25 April 2019 - 11:58 AM

do a rough estimate based on travel forums and cost of living websites, then double.

#19 beccaj

Posted 25 April 2019 - 12:13 PM

My tip would be grab snacks from Safeway and get a Safeway card for great discounts often BOGO. Also walk a couple of streets away from the main tourist area, smaller places for meals which are often cheaper and better.

Meals are often huge, we can get away with sharing a main between 2 sometimes 3, food quality is hit and miss and not as good as here.

#20 Coffeegirl

Posted 25 April 2019 - 12:47 PM

How long is a piece of string?   It’s really going to depend on what sort of food you eat and how much.

Buffet breakfasts are the best, and I will often grab an extra couple muffins or pieces of fruit for snacks during the day.

We find that we skip the entrees and desserts in most restaurants and just have mains (servings are usually huge).  Then grab an ice cream cone or a magnum type ice cream from a convenience store if the kids still want dessert.  

Disney will be the most expensive.  Last time we were there we found a small kiosk near the jungle cruise that sold fruit salads at a really reasonable price,   Those were our midday meal.     The LeBrea (sp) bakery out in downtown Disney had good sized sandwiches that you could split between two adults as well.

Honolulu - prices seem a bit higher than the mainland.  If possible get away from the main tourist traps.   If you have a car and drive to the Nth Shore, there are some awesome little fish taco shacks where you can get a great feed for cheap.      
WholeFoods is good for premade foods like whole chickens and salads that you can eat in your apartment.  



We’re headed to Maui in July and I’m already cringing at the food costs there.  Even higher than Honolulu.     We’ll be filling up at the buffet breakfast every day, that’s for sure!

#21 carls888

Posted 25 April 2019 - 04:01 PM

We are going in October for 35 nights and I am budgeting 10k-15k for extras. That is after flights, tours, accommodation, theme park tickets, hire cars etc.
In my mind it breaks down to around $300 per day for food and 5k for shopping, petrol and miscellaneous stuff. We are not big on trinkets and the children will have their own $$ to spend on that.
We are going to buy some shoes, I want a few things from Levis, and a few from Banana Republic (as i love that brand). But with the exchange rate unless the clothing is cheaper than here we will leave it.
We also only buy main meals and don't drink alcohol or soft drinks out.
Our breakfasts are included in hotels and we have about 12 nights in apartments so we will 'cook'. (easy preparation as I don't actually cook on holidays!)
We will also have another 5k spare, just in case!




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