If I go to a restaurant while traveling for fun, should it be travel or restaurant - what's your philosophy?

If I go to a restaurant while traveling for fun, should it be travel or restaurant - what’s your philosophy?

I am wondering how you all categorize these “dual” expenses? I tend to think they should be travel, but I am wondering how others do it?

Thank you!

1 Like

Oh thats a good one @staciefrerichs .

I run into this when I go on Vacation and go out to eat.

Since I don’t need to track how much I spend on eating out on vacation, I just categorize it all as Vacation.

Interested in what others say.



I don’t travel all that often, but when I have, I’ve to think of it this way:
If I was home, and might have eaten out at a restaurant, then I’d categorize the meal as ‘Restaurant’.
If eating out at a restaurant is more of a feature of the travel event, then I’d categorize it as ‘Travel’.
Maybe figure out how much you would have normally spent on food for that time period, and give yourself a ‘Per Diem’ for that amount (kind of like how business per diems work) which is categorized as Restaurant or Food, and any more than that goes to the ‘Travel’ budget.


I generally put all travel transactions, including food, into my travel category, then use tags for exactly what the expense was for. My eating out category is pretty much for at home use, where it needs to be monitored more closely than travel eating out. I consider travel eating separate from home eating out.


I figure that i would be eating either way so i use the typical restaurants category and then use tags for travel for the specific trip to add up and realize the impact on that particular trip

1 Like

Hadn’t thought of this way of thinking about transactions - thanks for sharing!

This is the way I have thought of this in the past . . I am new-ish to tiller and will have to explore the tag feature. Thanks!

This method is intriguing, I had not thought of this before. Thanks!

I personally put that all in my “travel” category - down to the stop for food on the way home from the airport! To me it is all considered “costs because of travel.” It would run up my restaurant budget since sometimes with traveling comes eating out 2+ times per day and that’s a major outlier on my normal restaurant habits and I want the clearest picture possible of my restaurant spending. Same with stopping to/from the airport since the only reason we are eating out is because we cleaned out the fridge for this trip.


Thanks - seems like your way is an actual reflection of travel costs!

I’ve adopted a new system for food that some of you may find helpful. I have one category, “Restaurants” that I generally reserve for normally scheduled meals (lunch breaks at work, takeout or fast food for dinner if I don’t feel like cooking, etc). I use this total alongside my groceries budget to get a good feel for what my normal food spend is.

Then I have another category I call “Dining Out”. Like someone else mentioned, I use this for more of a feature-event type meal. Nice restaurant date nights, birthday dinners, pizza parties for the kids, travel meals. I keep these separate because I consider this more entertainment and discretionary type spending. The bill is higher than normal meals because it’s out of town, or alcohol is a large part of bill, or I’m footing the bill for our guests.


My wife and I had a similar conversation recently. We decided to mark these under “Travel” since they occurred during the trip when we had to eat out. It wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t traveling.



This is a fun question. I think it’s easiest to keep things in their same categories - restaurants stays in restaurants regardless of vacation or not. And then use tags to classify the Travel Event itself - Summer Spain Trip 2022, for example, can then be tagged to the restaurants, the hotel & flights, the cost to board your dog, the extra shopping, etc. Doing it this way makes it easier I feel to analyze the sub expenses of your total travel…of course there are cons too, but that’s my preference!

1 Like

Both. I’ve created duplicate categories in a “Travel” group (like Restaurant, Parking, Transit), plus other categories that are specific to travelling (like Accomodation), so that I can see the detail.


I always categorize these as “vacation” synonymous with your “travel” category because when I’m traveling I budgeted for eating out at restaurants.

If it’s work related travel, I get reimbursed for that so it goes into a different category.

I keep food specifically in the Restaurant (or “ice cream/coffee/etc”) category, then I use tags for trips that may be larger in nature to hone in on that specific trip cost. I find that seeing my food expense relative to my food budget over time is easier to manage and think through when there are not “dips” where those similar expenses exist in a travel or other category. I view the food component differently than airfare, hotel, etc since it is a relatively constant expense in one’s budget whereas travel tend to be blips in trended data. But you know, opinions are like a&*(&oles…everyone has one so it is just one guy’s opinion.

I do however slightly deviate from this for business related travel and expenses where I keep all of that in a “reimbursable” category and that category is excluded/hidden from my reports. Again, along the lines of the trending, if I travel more or less in a given time period for work, where I expect reimbursement, those numbers do not cause noise in personal expense analysis. This will widely vary for everyone’s individual situation I imagine.

Great question! If I am traveling on a personal vacation, I categorize EVERY expense related to the vacation as travel, so I know how much the whole vacation cost.

Until a few years ago, I used to categorize everything under Vacation separately, so Vacation: Food, Vacation: Gas, Vacation: Activities etc. The problem is that it inflates the apparent cost of a vacation and doesn’t really add any value for me. I have to eat whether I am hiking in Chile or going to work in NYC… and given a sandwich in NYC probably costs the same or even more than a meal in Punta Arenas, I’m not spending more on my vacation. So it just goes under the eating out / groceries etc categories.

So now I only capture the travel and accommodation as my vacation expense.

1 Like

I capture all expenses including restaurants as ‘travel’ when dining out on a trip for fun. The reason is because I want to know how much a trip cost, all in, for budgeting travel in the future, and I do travel to some of the same places repeatedly. Here’s how I do it: I have an expense category called Travel. Each month I save the same amount, say $250, towards future travel by transferring that amount from my checking to savings account. Instead of categorizing that transaction as Transfer, I categorize it as an expense under “Travel”. Then when I spend for a trip, I categorize all transactions as “Transfer”, put “Travel:” in the description along with a note about what the transaction was, and use a tag specific to the trip, such as “2023 Hawaii”. Then after the trip I total all expenses with that tag and pay back my checking account from the savings account with a single transaction categorized as Transfer. This may seem like more work than necessary (and there are easier ways as others have described in this post), but I do it because it allows me to set a travel budget for the year, smooth out monthly cash flow, preserve my zero-based monthly budgeting and provide a way via tag reporting to see how much I spent on each trip for future budgeting. This method does not easily facilitate reporting on a trip’s expenses by airfare, hotel, restaurants, etc but I find I don’t really need that level of detail.

I categorize any expense that occurs while traveling or vacationing as Vacation. I suppose if it were a medical emergency of some sort, maybe not. This results in knowing the true cost of a vacation for me.