Spring Travel Budgeting

Spring Travel Budgeting featured by popular DC travel blogger, Monica Dutia

Following our nearly back to back trips all spring, a lot of people have asked me how I manage to travel this much both financially and due to the constraints of a full time job with limited vacation days. In short, we decided to tack on 2-3 more trips once we figure out we were getting a puppy. Otherwise, we’d have spread out the cost and days off over the next few months; now, with Millie, our plan is to be home save for a couple very short weekend trips. While the nearly back-to-back travel was definitely a lot of money spent at once and pretty tiring at times, I’m so glad we took advantage of the time! Below, I’m breaking down three of the trips with a little background, how many vacation days we took, how much the flights cost, and what we did for accommodations. Hopefully it’s helpful as summer planning and travel budgeting kicks into high gear!


This was our steal of the year! We get Scott’s Cheap Flights (which is honestly the best email I subscribe to) and there was a deal last October with $390 nonstop flights from Dulles to Amsterdam on United. It was too good to pass up–there was actually an equally good deal to Paris, and J literally forwarded me the email midday going “Paris or Amsterdam?”–especially once we realized the availability fell over President’s Day, meaning that if we were willing to go for three days (sure, why not!) we’d each only need to take one vacation day. A three day trip to Europe is quick, but direct flights from the east coast are short and we were okay only seeing one city vs. traveling to more destinations like we would ordinarily do with more days. This trip is the perfect example of how a little work can go a long way…sure, you have to subscribe to an email to hear about the flights, and open up a credit card that earns you points, but once you do: budget-friendly European vacay!

Vacation days taken:



IAD –> AMS (RT): $391 on United


10k SPG points for three nights at the Apollo Hotel, so 30k SPG points total


Maine had been on my bucket list for years and years and kept getting pushed off for some reason or another. J spent a lot of time there growing up, and it really made no sense that we hadn’t managed a visit over the past few years. We finally got it together this spring–our friends who lived in DC had moved to Boston, and her parents have a house in Maine. She and her boyfriend were down to make a weekend out of it, so we flew into BOS on Thursday night, drove to Brunswick that night, and spent Friday + half of Saturday in Portland and surrounding towns before heading back to Boston before dinner on Saturday. We caught up with some friends before flying out of Boston Sunday afternoon.

1.5 days in Maine was not nearly enough, but as expected, I fell in love with the state and am happy to have gotten a taste, even in the off-season. There are direct flights from DCA to Portland but they can be pricey, so if you’re coming from the DMV and not meeting up with someone who has a car, consider flying into Boston, renting a car, and driving to Maine if your schedule allows. If the trip is two days or fewer, it probably makes sense to fly into Portland unless you’re staying with friends.

Vacation days taken:



DCA –> BOS: $94 on Jet Blue
BOS –> DCA: $59 on American

TOTAL: $153 per person


Stayed with friends

San Francisco

We’d been talking about a California trip for nearly a year and having grown up in Dallas, the thought of now having to fly all the way east to west for a quick trip was realllly unappealing. However, I have a ton of family out there and J hadn’t been to SF, so we knew we’d need to suck up the higher ticket price and make it happen.

Our ideal plan was to spend five or six full days in CA and head to Napa or Sonoma with a couple of friends for part of the trip. Unfortunately our vacation day allotments did not seem as fond of with this plan, so we had to pick and choose–this trip, family + SF took precedence and we’ll go back for the wine! It was nice being able to see family for two days and then do our own thing in the city…we ate like kings and saw a decent amount in a short time. We did opt to splurge on our SF hotel–there are so many in the city, but we settled on a conveniently located Starwood property to indulge a bit and help replenish our points post-Amsterdam redemption.

Vacation days taken:



DCA –> SFO: $282 on Virgin/Alaska
SFO –> DCA: 12.5k miles on United

TOTAL: $282 + 12.5k United miles


Stayed with my cousins for two nights and paid for two nights at the Westin St. Francis, so $564 total


P.S. A similar post on last summer’s travels.

P.P.S. Ashlee’s four day food tour in Italy and further proof you don’t need lots of vacation days to travel!

How have you done travel budgeting?


The photo above was taking on our flight to CA–yet another reminder that I need to update my iPhone, but also that mother nature never ceases to show off!

Leave a Comment


  1. Ashlee wrote:

    Y’all have had so many fun trips already this year! Love the perspective that it doesn’t take a lot of vacation days to make travel happen!

    Ashlee | http://www.cobaltchronicles.com

    Posted 5.9.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Can’t wait for many more!!

      Posted 5.17.18 Reply
  2. Heather wrote:

    I feel like so many people don’t realize you can absolutely travel on a budget, so it’s so great to see that you actually spelled it out for people!


    Posted 5.9.18 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Thanks, Heather!! Glad we both love taking advantage of weekends to get out of town :)

      Posted 5.17.18 Reply
  3. katie wrote:

    You always manage to find such great deals! Can’t wait to see what else pops up on the travel calendar this year!

    Posted 5.11.18 Reply