The most expensive trip I’ve ever taken

The most expensive trip I've ever taken

Back in November, one of our friends in New York sent out an email detailing plans for a group ski trip to Montana in March.

We immediately jumped on board. Sam had organised a similar trip in early 2016, but as we had only just moved to USA and were therefore fairly broke at the time, we decided that we couldn’t afford it. This time though, we’d paid off our debts and were ready to join in.

It sounded like a perfect opportunity to explore some parts of USA that neither Rob or I had been before. We’d heard that Montana was absolutely beautiful.

When our friends started booking their flights to Bozeman, we checked our options from New York. There was one direct flight every Sunday, but the price was about $200 more per person than flying via Minneapolis or Chicago. Being fairly tight with our travel budget, we chose the cheaper and longer option.

Clare, who would be travelling with us from New York, found an amazing ski-in ski-out vacation home on VRBO that would hold 10 of us for the week. It had 4.5 bedrooms and bathrooms, multiple living areas with fireplaces, a huge kitchen and dining area, and a hot tub and sauna for us to relax in after hitting the slopes each day.

Big Sky, Montana

Our vacation home in Big Sky, Montana

The whole trip sounded very exciting… until it came time to pay.

As I listed out all the costs including flights, car hire, accommodation, lift passes, and ski hire, I balked at the final price. This 8-day trip was going to cost us over five thousand dollars, which is more than half our annual travel budget.

Trip costs (for 2 people):

  • Flights from New York to Bozeman: $1,354
  • Car hire + fuel: $141
  • Accommodation: $2,026
  • Lift passes and ski hire: $1,424
  • Snowmobiling day trip: $300

Total: $5,246 USD ($2,623 USD per person)

Remember when I put together a travel budget for 2016 and calculated that we spent $118 per person per travel day? For this trip, that number was a whopping $327!

It actually killed me a little inside to know that we were spending this much on such a short trip. I was worried that the extra cash wouldn’t necessarily amount to extra fun.

Big Sky, Montana

Rob skiing in Big Sky

But when I first walked into that amazing house, with layers of fresh snow settled around the property, incredible views of the surrounding mountains, and a bunch of great friends to spend the next week with, I knew I was going to love it.

We rented our skis, grabbed our lift passes, donned our gear, and skiied out the back door for our first day in Big Sky. The views from up on the mountain were so pretty that I found myself constantly stopping in my tracks to admire the scenery.

And the skiing was incredible. We had people in our group who had only ever skiied for one day (Rob) and others who were happy to snowboard down the black runs on the summit of the mountain. Big Sky offered a huge range of slopes for beginners to experts.

Snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park

Our snowmobile adventure through Yellowstone National Park

I am actually directly to blame for adding an extra $300 to our trip cost. When I realised how close we would be to Yellowstone, I jumped at the chance to do a winter snowmobiling trip through the national park. We grabbed a few of our friends and spent an entire day snowmobiling from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful and back.

It was every bit as fun as it sounds! That $150 per person went to a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can see the video of our snowmobiling adventure on YouTube.

There were also a few days in the trip that I chose to just hang out at the house. I settled in for a day or two of work in the crows nest of our vacation home, glancing up every so often to admire the incredible view behind my computer. If I could choose one place to be my permanent office, it would be that spot.

Big Sky, Montana

The view from the Crow’s Nest in our vacation home (amazing, right!?)

Honestly, I wouldn’t spend that much money on a trip anytime in the near future as I know how much further I can stretch out my travel funds, but I also have no regrets about splashing out this time around. This ski trip, that took me to one of the most beautiful places in America, was a wonderful experience that I’ll never forget.

I’ve splashed out on unique experiences a handful of times on my travels. A day tour to Chernobyl in Ukraine, a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, and a sunrise Hot Air Balloon flight over Arizona have all been activities where I’ve questioned the cost, but gone through with it anyway.

And the funny thing is, these are actually some of the experiences that stand out the most when I think back on my past travels.

I’m not saying that we need to spend money to create memories. Far from it. Some of the best times I’ve had on my travels have cost absolutely nothing. But what I’ve learnt is that we shouldn’t forego a unique experience just because of the cost. Sometimes, those unique experiences are worth the money.

So, if there’s something you really want to do but it’s a tad more than you want to spend, just do it. Most of the time you’ll be thankful that you spent the money on the experience. After all, you might not ever get the chance to do some of these things again. Take the opportunity while you have it.

Here’s a video of us skiing in Big Sky! Take a look at the scenery for yourself, it’s truly awesome.

Have you ever splashed out on a unique trip or activity, even though it was expensive? What was the outcome? Share your story with us in the comments!

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14 Responses to “The most expensive trip I’ve ever taken”

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I know, right!? I was shocked at how much the trip added up to… but you’re right, it was absolutely worth it! And money spent on travel is much better than money spent on a fancy TV or something 😛

  1. lisi ledbetter

    there’s a german saying along the way: if it doesn’t cost a thing, it’s not worth anything. meaning, some things aren’t valued if you’re given them for free. skiing is expensive, but it sure looks like it’s been worth it, agreed!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Ooh how interesting, I haven’t heard that one before! I absolutely agree with it though… sometimes spending more money makes you value something more highly. Skiing is never cheap, but I definitely felt like the trip to Montana was worth the it 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh, yes! The one reason I haven’t been to Uluru yet (even though I have wanted to for a long while) is because of the cost! But of course, I imagine it’s worth every penny 😀

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      True, skiing is always expensive! There are cheaper ways to do it than flying to Montana for a week, but it was honestly way more special this way. Thanks for your comment, Lisa 🙂

  2. Jessica C

    I’m the money person in our relationship so I analyze everything! I *usually* think of it in regards to ROI — I’m not really a money snob like that, but it’s more about what you said…some experiences are just worth it. Maybe a dinner out doesn’t equate to $100 of value, but a gastronomic experience would. We are looking at our 10th wedding anniversary trip and I don’t even want to mention the price because it’s almost embarrassingly high. I’ve been looking forward to it for years and it’s still 3 years away. The amount makes me so nervous even though there is plenty of time to save!

    Sometimes money is just money and it’s all good 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I totally agree! ROI is absolutely something we should consider when spending money on a trip. If it’s something you really want to do, then why not spend more on it! I can’t wait to hear about your anniversary trip, even if it is still a few years away 😀

  3. Allison

    Wow! That is crazy expensive but it sounds like an amazing experience you will remember the rest of your life. Also, nothing is worse than cheaping out on a trip and having it ruin the experience!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      EXACTLY!! I have definitely been in that situation before, where I’ve been cheap and booked a shitty hostel which has ended up making the trip totally unenjoyable. I do not want to be in that situation again! Thanks Allison 🙂

  4. Liz

    I learned in Iceland that shelling out for ‘extras’ was totally worth the squeaks from the bank manager! First trip was solo, so went on group excursions but second time was with friends and we shared the pretty staggering cost of a hire car….which we drove through unbeliveable landscapes and shared great times together….so absolutely no regrets whatsoever! 🙂
    Since then I’ve thought twice about what I do on a trip – and have changed the way I cost things out to allow some budget for ‘extras’ because, as you say, they are often the highlights. So I stay in more hostels and less hotels…meh so what! I’ll remember the view of the interior from the hill near Stong for the rest of my life…less so the place I stayed in that night.
    It’s also made me more confident / interested in going off the beaten track, and taught me to be more adventurous.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m so glad you agree that the extras are sometimes the best parts of a trip, Liz! Iceland is a perfect example. It’s an expensive country with pricey activities, but those activities are often once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you won’t regret shelling out a few extra dollars for. I definitely think it’s worth being cheaper with accommodation rather than missing out on experiences!


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