Get Started Here!

Exploring the Finances of a Family Vacation

As I write this post, Selenid and I are about a week back from our first real family vacation. And it was a ton of fun. But, being back, I thought it would be a fun and worthwhile exercise to take a look at the finances involved in (what I think) is a generalizable, typical family vacation for a physician.

Some background on the trip

Every year, the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgeons holds an amazing meeting. It’s always been one of my favorites and they always host it in a warm, nice location.

This year it was being held in the Bahamas at Baha Mar.

I’ve had this on my radar for awhile and thought it was a perfect opportunity to go on a trip with the whole family. The conference only lasts a few days but we booked to stay 1 week overlapping with the conference. It was official, Selenid and I would take our first trip with all 3 kids, Samuel (6), Emery (4), and Camilo (9 months).

family vacation finances

My two partner decided to take their families with little kids as well so we were all really excited.

With that in mind, let’s break down the finances of this family vacation!

Analysis of the finances of a family vacation

I’m going to go through this in a way that makes sense to me and hopefully does to you as well. So let’s work through the finances by each component of the vacation…

The hotel

This is obviously important.

Baha Mar is composed of three hotels that share a common ground including a bunch of pools, a water park that is free for hotel guests, a flamingo cay, beach, etc.

There is the Rosewood which is a really fancy and nice, but not super kid friendly hotel. Plus it’s much more expensive. Then the SLS which is like a single’s/young person’s hotel (yup…I’m getting old). Then there is the Grand Hyatt which is the largest of the hotels and most kid-friendly. That’s where we stayed and used the conference rate.

Now, the biggest financial factor here was figuring out how many rooms to get

We initially chose to get just 1 ocean view room with 2 queen beds. Plan was to have the baby in a crib, the older kids in one bed and me and Selenid in another. It would be cramped but we could make it work.

However, as we began to think more and more about the trip, we decided it would be really nice if we could have someone there to help with the baby. He still was taking 3 naps a day and going to bed around 6. Having someone there would allow me and Selenid to stay and enjoy more time with the older kids during the day and ourselves at night. We asked Selenid’s mom if she was up for the task and she agreed.

And initially we still planned to stay in 1 room. But as the trip drew closer, Selenid finally was able to make me realize how tough this would be. We looked for a second room but the conference rate rooms were gone and anything was really expensive.

Luckily, two nights before we left, we checked again and found another room and booked it at the conference rate!

When we got to the hotel, the front desk was able to accommodate us with joining rooms. So it all worked out awesome!

The rooms themselves were very nice and clean. Lots of water bottles included. Plus big bathrooms which helped as we turned one of them into Camilo’s bedroom with the crib in there.

Final cost

Two rooms at the conference rate of $300/night plus taxes and resort fees and all other sorts of add-ons ended up totaling…


It’s a lot. And it would have been cut in half if we just fit everyone in one room. But you know what, in the end that extra space and beds really helped us (and especially the kids) enjoy more room while also making for a better sleeping arrangement. And well rested kids are way better all the time, but especially on vacation.


We booked our flights through Delta, most because I have status with them. But I also like them a lot and they are pretty consistent with things. Plus they pretty much always have a seat back TV which is great for kids.

Going there, we would go from Buffalo to Atlanta to Nassau. Coming back would be Nassau to LaGuardia to Buffalo (more on that fiasco below).

We got seats in Comfort+ and had the baby sit in our arms rather than his own seat.

That should be the end of the story. But there was a hidden cost involved. Of course, the day that we were to return, there was a major storm that hit the Northeast including a huge snowstorm in Buffalo.

This meant that our flight from Nassau to LaGuardia was delayed by 3 hours to 7 PM. And then, mid-flight, we learned that all flights to Buffalo were cancelled indefinitely. So, after arriving in LaGuardia at 11:30 PM and waiting for our bags for another hour or so, we rented a car and drove to Buffalo starting at 1:30 AM.

It was brought. But amazingly the kids did amazing and mostly slept.

Final cost

In all, the flights and rental cars totaled:

$3,692.55 ($644 of which was rental car)


This part is pretty easy to account for.

We drove to the Buffalo airport and parked there for 7 days. Then we needed transportation from the Nassau airport to the hotel and then back again at the end.

In all, this cost:


Food and Activities

Ok, I think we all know this to an extent. But if not…(insert Dad voice) this is where they get you…

I’m not going to go through each charge but will go through at a semi-granular level to demonstrate what we got for the final cost below.

And I’ll start with food

The food and drinks are ridiculously expensive. They have a ton of restaurants at the resort ranging from fine dining to food trucks. But with 3 kids and 3 adults, the bill racks up. Even one slice of cheese pizza comes out to $13.

Now, you just have to accept that a bit when you are there. Most days, for breakfast we either ate at a buffet where kids 5 and under eat free or a little bistro place with bagels and stuff like that.

For lunch, we usually ordered at the pool or at food trucks.

And for dinner, we either ate at a kids friendly restaurant as a family or, a couple of times, Selenid and I went on a date night dinner at one of the nicer restaurants.

But even the casual kids’ restaurants added up to at least $150+ with basic meals.

And the drinks…were even more expensive. But we did enjoy a lot of fruity drinks. Don’t judge.

Now for the activities

A lot of activities were included. Obviously the multiple beautiful pools and beaches. Even the really great water park was included for any hotel guest.

But a lot wasn’t.

We spent extra on a touch tank and shark/turtle/ray feeding experience. They fed, we watched. Also on a feeding experience (twice) at an aviary. There were honestly not that bad.

But we did spend a decent amount on cabanas for three days. Once at the water park and two times at two different pools. I have to say, this was really worth it for us. Having a cabana means that we didn’t have to fight for seats together at the pool, that the kids had a designated area to chill and rest when they needed a break, and we got ideal seats to be able to watch the kids in the pool if/when Selenid and I got to rest.

In the ends, these totaled…


Breaking these charges up between for and activities would be really tedious. But in aggregate, they each accounted for about half of this charge.

The conference

Yeah, the conference was great. But I’m proud to say that I went to the important parts and learned what I needed, but spend most of the time with my family.

That’s what matters.

The total damage

Add up all of these components and our family vacation ended up costing $13,131.65.

My estimate going into this vacation was that we would end up spending around $10,000. And like many things in life like time, I underestimated. No surprise.

We paid for some if it straight up. But we did put some on our credit card for points which we will pay off aggressively. Plus, I will get CME reimbursement for a my portion…which really made this a smart move.

Was it worth it?

But this is the real question, right?

I’m not going to beat around the bush. The answer is a resounding yes!

Now, I still did get sticker shock, especially after the fact. There were times (many times) where our kids drove us crazy. We came home arguably as tired if not more tired than we left. But it was worth every second!

Selenid and I want to prioritize experiences with us and our kids. This was a big step in that direction. And the kids held up really well. And we held up really well. It was a great proof of concept. Many times in our lives we have discussed a big family vacation, only to be scared off by the finances or analysis paralysis.

I’m really, really happy that we made this one happen!

Was there any trick?

Really just a trick in terms of mindset.

The price tag is big. But we are blessed and worked very hard to afford it. Plus, we didn’t need it to reach financial freedom. Because we know from our written financial plan that we are already on the path and just need to keep following the plan.

Plus, thanks to our real estate investments, we know we could pay for this vacation with about 1 month’s worth of rents.

How could we not do it?!

Now, as our kids are already asking for, we have to plan the next one!

And, since you’ve seen an inside look at the finances of our family vacation, here are some other insider looks into my financial life:

What do you think? Have you have a vacation lately? What were the finances of that family vacation? Was it worth it? Let me know in the comments below!

Love the blog? We have a bunch of ways for you to customize how you follow us!

Join the Prudent Plastic Surgeon Network

And accelerate your path to financial freedom with my free FIRE calculator!

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Join The Prudent Plastic Surgeon Facebook group to interact with like-minded professional seeking financial well-being

    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

    4 thoughts on “Exploring the Finances of a Family Vacation”

    1. Jordan, great post breaking things down for a young family on a “CME Vacation”! As you said, it’s always worth it to spend special time with your entire family!–including the bump out mother-in-law room (glad you could make it adjoining). In our family, with 5 kids and 7 of us total–the 1 room suite vs 2 rooms was a question for a frugal person like myself. I always reasoned that I slept on many floors as a kid–so who needs a bed when it can feel like you are camping out in a hotel room? That’s a blast as a kid! Eventually, we joined a vacation club with 2 and 3-BR condos that worked great for our family trips. If our vacation club had nothing for the location we were traveling to–we would just source something on VBRO or AirBnB. If we were on an employer-reimbursed CME trip, they would reimburse us the cost of the hotel room at the CME, but we would choose to stay in our vacation club condo. The financial arbitrage of this was we would come out ahead–in a much more comfortable family setting.

      On a side note, I have to believe you did some networking for the PPS while you were rubbing shoulders with other doctors and may be able to expense out some of the costs (if documented properly) through PPS–beyond what your employer reimbursed you for the CME portion. It may be worth checking with your CPA–just saying.

      When it comes to CME, W-2 employees typically have limitations, and when your CME costs exceed the employer’s reimbursement–those out-of-pocket business expenses are not tax deductible:( Self-employed doctors have greater flexibility with this and I cover this in my blog post: If a doctor is job stacking- meaning they are combining W-2 income with 1099 side job income, it also opens the door for greater CME expense flexibility as well.

    2. I loved the Baha Mar as well. I also suffered from sticker shock with the prices and the VAT tax for the restaurants and hotels but it’s unavoidable. The water park was awesome too. Sorry to hear about the trouble getting home. It seemed like alot of the people got stuck on the island another day. I think traveling with your family for these conferences makes a lot of sense. It’s a win-win situation! Can’t wait to see how you plan and budget for Hawaii next year for ASRM!! Love your posts always.


    Leave a Comment