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Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

Victoria, Australia
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792 posts
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Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

Hi there!

Looking for advice please on how much we should budget for our spending money on our trip to LA in upcoming April....

We are a family of 4 - 2 adults and 2 kids ages 10 & 8.

We already have our accommodation and Disneyland passes booked and paid for.

Our spending money would be for food (combination of eating out and purchasing food to make into breakfasts and lunch), souvenirs, day tours to see LA sights - Hollywood, stars homes etc.., some shopping and of course tipping.

On the tipping note, can anyone please advise on who/what & how much we should tip??!!

Many thanks

Bec :)

Los Angeles
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1. Re: Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

The main place you would tip is at sit-down restaurants where a waiter or waitress comes to take your food order and then brings you your food. When the bill arrives it will have a sub-total (which is the actual total cost of the items you ordered), a sales tax amount (around 9.5% depending on exactly which city / county you are in) and then a grand total. Its customary to tip 15-20% of the non-tax part of the total (often to make the math easy, people just double the sales tax amount and leave that as a tip, as this usually comes to just under 20%). Sometimes more if you are really happy with the service you receive. Most people will not tip less than 15% unless the service was exceptionally bad. If you pay with a credit card, there will usually be a place to write down how much you want to tip and then the grand total. If you pay with cash, give the waiter/waitress all of the cash and they will bring you change. You can then ask for further change (i.e. if the denominations of cash they bring back to you are greater than you want to tip) and then leave whatever amount you chose as the tip. One thing to be aware of, however, is that some restaurants will add a tip into your bill without making it a point to tell you, if your party is large enough. When this happens there's usually some fine print at the bottom of the menu that says something like "a gratuity of 18% will be added for parties of 6 people or more". Not a big deal except sometimes people don't realise that a tip was added to their bill and then leave a 2nd tip on top of it.

Restaurants with counter service (i.e. you order your food at a counter and pick it up from the counter) you normally would not tip at.

Other services you may use as a tourist where its customary to tip:

a) taxi - usually you would tip the driver perhaps 10% of the fare

b) hotel bellhop or bell man - if they carry your bags to / from your room for you, you would normally tip them $1 per bag - perhaps $1.50 or $2 if they carry your bags an extra long way or your bags are extra heavy

c) if you have a car and a valet parks it for you, you would usually tip around $3 to them when they return your car to you

As for spending money, this is a difficult question to answer. For instance, we have no idea of what types of things you might want to shop for, or how much you would buy. Some activities such as tours you can research online to find out their costs in advance.

As for food, generally a meal in a fast food restaurant is going to be $7-10 per person, depending if you order beverages etc. At mid-range sit-down restaurants, figure around $20 per person with tax and tip. Fancier restaurants exist and they can get expensive, especially if you order any alcohol.

San Francisco...
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for San Francisco
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2. Re: Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

There are links to articles in the top questions of the CA forum on tipping. Please do check it out That would be my suggestion M3 has some good tips above. pun intended

Food per person can be 50-100 per day depending on the type of restaurants one goes to. You could do it for less if you have a kitchen or just grab coffee and sandwiches. Tour companies post their prices online so you can look at them. Shopping ? Who knows ? A souvenir could be a magnet for a few bucks or things for hundreds of bucks

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

You know? We cannot really answer your question.

Food? Depends upon whether you like cheap chain restaurants or more upscale ones, whether you do orange juice and rolls in our room for breakfast or go out for a full breakfast, whether you pick up picnic food for lunch or go to a restaurant.

Souvenirs. Are refrigerator magnets okay, or do you want a sweatshirt or T-shirt or a painting from the Getty?

You can google to choose the tours you want and get their prices.

Shopping. We don't know what you want to buy.

The tipping problem has been beaten to death on this forum. It won't break your bank.

Don't worry, be happy. Spend what you can afford. You will be okay.

Have a wonderful trip.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

I've been tempted to ask this question myself for our upcoming trip later in the year. But it really is a tough one to answer. I don't know what I would tell someone coming to Sydney if they asked how much they should bring for spending money.

With a lot of research on the interweb you should be able to limit the cost variables to food and souvenirs.

Having had a little look through previous forum posts on here it seems that generally people budget somewhere between $100 and $200 per adult per day. I am thinking of around $100 per adult per day plus another 100 between the 3 kids (they are only 6, 4 and 2 and they usually share a meal when we dine out here anyway). I'm told that portions sizes in America are quite generous.

I would take enough cash for a few days or so making sure you have low denominations for tips. It seems it's acceptable to ask for change when tipping but I don't think I would be comfortable with doing that. It's like you're saying "I can afford to give you more but you're not worth it".

Consider getting one of these cash cards that you can load with a particular currency prior to leaving Aus. Apparently they have better exchange rates and fees than using ATMs. There is a thread on the Australian forum which was going just before Christmas with some quite useful info about them.

After the cash and the cash card is exhausted then use the good ol credit card. Make sure the card is paid up before you go so there's lots of emergency money for when you see something fabulous that you just have to buy or some adventure you just have to take. I still love the leather jacket I bought in New York even though it would have blown at least a weeks budget (lucky I didn't make a budget back then, otherwise I would never have bought it).

Just remember that you may not be back in LA for a long time so if there is something you want to do then do it. There may not be a next time for a long while.

Hope you have a great trip and maybe you could let us all know how you went budget wise after you get back.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

I think that is great advice. Thank you SunPrincess,

6. Re: Budget / Spending Money for Family for 8 days?

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