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

I have a group called Travel with categories for Travel Expenses and Travel Food. We eat out a lot more when we travel so I like to track it.

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I do this too! I also separate hotel and transportation under “Travel”. It’s a bit more work and only really useful for me when looking at yearly expenses because hotel and airfare are usually paid well ahead of the trip itself.

I just glad I’m not the only one who obsesses about this. I try to think about things in terms of what they cost me at the margin. But that’s tricky for your example - I’d still have to eat if I were on vacation - but I’d do it more cheaply. Sometimes I just have to take a breath and remind myself it doesn’t much matter.

I record it as restaurant but also use a “vacation” tag to tag for filtering out later!

I am retired. I eat out a lot and travel a lot. I track expenses with broad categories. I use 2 categories Travel & Entertainment and then Restaurants & Pubs whether I am at home or on the road. Works for me.

I have done it many ways over the years. I have found that I don’t need the granularity of tracking things as closely as I used to. Currently, I track restaurants from my Household budget category (Restaurant is the description). Hotels and other things specific to the travel are in my Travel category.

If traveling, it is travel.
If home, it is restaurant.

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What a great question, @staciefrerichs!

For me, similar to what @Wooloomooloo2 is saying, categorizing as Travel inflates the cost of the trip for an expense that is already accounted for in my budget. And also, what am I to make of the cratering expenses for my typical eating categories: Groceries & Eating Out? Categorizing as Travel would seem to create a problem of shuffling budget dollars around with low value add.

The flip side of this is:

  • The Groceries budget is probably going to plummet while traveling (i.e. it won’t capture travel food effectively)
  • Dining out is likely to be more frequent and more expensive (so the Eating Out budget is likely not an accurate proxy)

If I had a single “Eating” or “Food” budget (rather than splitting between eating in and out), categorizing food the same as at home would probably be relatively accurate.

That struck a chord! I used to have a LOT of budget categories, but in my older years, trimmed them down considerably. I found they were not furthering my goals to know how much shaving cream was costing me, or if the body wash budget was being over spent. This is where my “Things Not Budgeted For” category came from! It’s now much less complicated for me and I still have total control over my finances!

I do the opposite. I categorize it for what it is, then tag it to a particular event. This way, I can see my overall expenses for a trip and what I paid for in food, lodging, etc.
I travel 2-3 weeks out of the month, so lots of travel, but I have a corporate card for business expenses that I do not need to reconcile, so it isn’t in Tiller. Tagging allows me more flexibility for me. I only pay for non-reimbursable travel expenses when I opt to treat myself to a restaurant beyond my per-diem.

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Not sure if you’ve investigated the Community Solutions, but I just discovered the amazing Travel Planner, which does a lot of this work for you, using unique tags for each trip! So I can now categorize for meals etc, but also tag for specific trips.

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I put everything under vacation. Including dog boarding. From the moment we leave the house, unless we need to get gas on the way to the airport but we don’t tend to cut it that close, until we get back home goes under vacation.

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I went through a similar simplification years ago, @jemmoa7. For example, auto repairs, car loan, car insurance, gas, Uber rides, and bus cards all became “Getting Around”. In the end, I was curious how much I spent getting around (as a fraction of my expense budget) not necessarily what I spent on gas or insurance. (I do use a tag for “Auto” for all things car related to differentiate that from other forms of transit.)

We have two dozen categories and I think the simplification keeps us sane and isn’t meaningfully lossy.

I used to go through this debate and would track eating on vacation in a vacation category or travel category. These days I prefer simpler Categories that don’t change and they mean what they mean. So, restaurants are restaurants regardless of why I ate there.

If I want to know it was part of a vacation, then I use Tags to see what the vacation cost. That makes more sense to me in order to keep your Categories clean and consistent and to not overload two different categories (Restaurants and Vacation) tracking the same type of expense…in this case food.

And I don’t have a Travel category. I have a Travel Group. Within that group I have the categories: Airfare, Car Rental, Hotel, Parking, and Ride Fees.

I put it into “Vacation” and then in detail what vacation, e.g. “Vacation May Wellness” etc. So I do know what my vacation expenses are and what vacation had which expenses.