Gap Year Spending Month 5 – $2.895.11

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching the halfway point of our Gap Year Adventure.  Since leaving Seattle in February, Becky and I have traveled over 12,000 miles in our car and visited over a dozen different states!

While we’ve chosen to slow down a bit during the summer to spend time with friends and family (and avoid some of the summer crowds), it won’t be long until we’re on our way to the east coast to experience many more sights and sounds.

Let’s take a look at where our money went during the month of June and how our budget looks as we approach the middle of our adventure.

Lodging – $825.48

The first half of the month involved bouncing around different hotels (which has become the norm for us), but our housing was covered for the latter half thanks to the generosity of our family!

Lodging Breakdown by Nights:

  • Hotel nights booked with points – 11
    • See below for breakdown
  • Hotel nights booked with cash – 3
    • IHG – 3
  • Nights spent with Friends and Family – 16

The 3 nights that we booked with cash cover the first half of a Q2 Accelerate promotion.  We both took full advantage of our Q1 IHG promotions for a combined ~100,000 points after paying for 10 nights, but will only end up using one of our Q2 promotions simply because we didn’t need as many hotel nights this quarter.

Points Spent by Brand:

  • Hilton – 5 Nights – 40,000 points
  • Hyatt – 5 Nights – 25,000 points
  • IHG – 1 Night – 7,500 points

The sole reward night with IHG was the tail end of a 4th night free booking that overlapped months and we also took advantage of Hilton’s 5th night free.  Our almost unlimited flexibility on this trip has made it much easier to maximize our points by structuring the length of our stays to line up with the best deal.

In addition, we stayed 5 nights at a category 1 Hyatt property.  At only 5,000 points per night, these properties have allowed us to get great value of both our existing Hyatt points and the Chase Ultimate Rewards that we’ve transferred over.

Points Earned per Brand (excluding credit card spend/bonuses):

  • IHG – 8,957 earned
    • 4,207 in regular earnings
    • 3,500 from Q2 Accelerate Promotion
    • 750 from 10% points rebate via the IHG credit card
    • 500 from welcome bonuses

As I mentioned above, the 3 nights we paid for with cash cover 60% of an ongoing promotion.  After a 2 night stay in July, we will earn an additional 36,500 points on top of the points above plus regular earnings.

Points Purchased per Brand:

  • IHG – 100,000 points – $500

For the first time in our several years of optimizing reward travel, we decided to directly purchase points with cash.  This wasn’t a decision made lightly and I crunched a lot of numbers to make sure we should come out ahead.  To see the complete breakdown and math behind this decision, be sure to check out the related post:

Related Post: Purchasing Points For The First Time

Transportation – $262.44

  • Gasoline – $197.23
  • Uber – $45.21
  • Parking – $20

This month marks the fewest miles we’ve driven yet, plus there were no surprises with the car, so nothing unexpected here.

Driving Stats:

  • Miles Traveled – 1,840
  • Gallons of Gas Purchased – 75
  • Average Miles per Gallon –  24.65
  • Average Price per Gallon – $2.63

Our total mileage for the trip sits at 12,439 and we don’t expect July to involve any significant driving.  For August and beyond, we will probably return to 2,500+ mile months as we adventure across southern Canada and down the East Coast.

Our journey as of the first week of July

Food and Restaurants – $956.04

Food remains the largest spending category on this trip, but it’s not too far off of what we used to spend living in one place full time.

  • Eating Out – $835.30
  • Groceries – $120.74

Breaking down the cost ends up just north of $5 per person per meal which has remained consistent throughout the trip.

Entertainment – $690.78

One of our primary goals for this trip was to explore new places and experience new things and there was no shortage of either this month.

  • Attractions – $435.68
    • St. Louis Arch & City Museum
    • Horse Racing at Churchill Downs
    • Graceland
    • Nashville Food Tour!
  • Bars – $196.20
  • Gambling – $15 (see horse racing above)
  • Bouldering Gym – $24
  • MoviePass – $19.90

Visiting St. Louis was a lot of fun and exploring the City Museum has the ability to make anyone feel like a kid again.  Graceland was an interesting (although pricey) experience, but they definitely only focused on the positive years of Elvis’s life.

Attending our first ever horse race with friends was an awesome experience as we were able to watch the races from right next to the finish line!

The highlight of the month probably goes to the food tour we took through the streets of Nashville.  We got to eat great barbecue, Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken, Gumbo, and freshly made pecan pie all while getting to know some of the history and stories of Nashville.

If you’re ever in the Nashville area, I highly recommend checking out the A Little Local Flavor walking food tour!

Be sure to follow our instagram page for even more highlights of our Gap Year Adventure!

Everything Else – $160.37

  • Cell Phone Plan – $74.50
  • Storage Unit in Seattle – $46
  • Household Goods – $12
  • Mail Forwarding – $3.87
  • Gifts – $19.35
  • Health and Fitness – $4.65

No unexpected expenses popped up during the month, but we did get a notice that our storage unit was going up in price starting next month.  There’s not much we can do about the jump from $46 to $57 per month, so hopefully it doesn’t continue to rise while we’re thousands of miles away.

Checking In After 5 Months

At the end of the 5th month in our gap year adventure, we’ve spent a total of $17,727.22.

At our current monthly average of ~$3,200, we’re on pace to spend right around $40k for the entire year.

The last couple months have been less expensive than the first few of the trip and I expect July and August to follow suit below the $3,000 mark.  However, our spending may ramp up higher as we put more miles on the car and spend more nights in hotels in September and beyond.

Regardless of how much the remaining 7 months cost us, this trip has been absolutely amazing in just about every way.  Setting ourselves up on a solid financial base during the pursuit of financial independence over the past ~5 years has not only made this trip possible, but also gives us numerous options once we finally settle down somewhere.

We remain grateful for all the amazing opportunities we’ve had and for all of the amazing people we’ve met on the journey and we can’t wait to keep living life to the fullest for the rest of this adventure and beyond.

Thanks for coming along for the ride 🙂

A post shared by Money Metagame (@moneymetagame) on

10 thoughts to “Gap Year Spending Month 5 – $2.895.11”

  1. I can’t wait for you 365 part series of hotel reviews. Do you only use points at category 1-2 properties? Any great deals along the way? Any terrible hotels you would not recommend? Keep up the traveling and enjoying life 🙂

    1. Haha, I’ve never done hotel reviews and don’t plan to start now! We’ve mostly stuck to category 1-2 for Hyatt, cat 2-3 for Hilton, and cat 1-3 for IHG. We mostly start with a general destination and work backwards to the best points deal. At least for now, we have a pretty good variety of hotel points.

      No out of this world deals and no terrible experiences yet. One Hyatt Place lost our mail and our do not disturb sign disappeared a couple times at another, but I’d still go back for the same price.


  2. Interesting that you put bars under entertainment spending rather than restaurants. For us, those are usually breweries, not bars, but I stick them under restaurants (then again, I don’t actually have an entertainment line item, so that could be it ?).

    1. I’m currently separating them by whether or not we ate food. If we go somewhere for a meal and happen to have drinks, then it stays in restaurants, but if we go to a bar, brewery, or similar and only drink then I count that under entertainment.

      The actual large categories (Auto/Transport, Food/Dining, Entertainment, etc.) are a byproduct of using for our spending tracking over the years. I’ve adapted their default categories to fit our own habits, but the large splits are mostly the same.

  3. That’s nice you got to stay with family for a couple weeks. Not only for the good company but saves you money too! That’s a great plan to wait the summer months out and resume later. You’re gonna love going down the east coast and seeing all the colors of the leaves change in the fall!

    Let me know if you’re planning to go through the northern Virginia/DC area, would love to meet up!

    1. Thanks Young Fire Knight, the summer has been great so far. I can’t wait to visit the east coast, neither of us have ever spent any significant time in that part of the country.

      I’ll try to keep you in mind as we make our way to the DC area, we love meeting up with people on the road!

  4. Great to see some love for Nashville. 🙂 Isn’t our food scene impressive!? We may not have a lot of fun attractions like Graceland, but our food is awesome!
    I am so envious of your gap year! I can’t even imagine how much time, sacrifice, and saving it took to achieve, but it is paying off.

    1. The food in Nashville was great! We’re not big foodies and don’t usually go too far out of our way for the local fare, but the food tour we took was amazing!

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  5. I would love to take a gap year but with my expenses, I can’t at the moment. I hope I can do it someday.

Comments are closed.