It’s probably as important to explain how our costs were calculated as it is to report them. This article explains, step by step how the figures were put together.

Step 1: We set up a joint account specifically for the trip; we chose Norwich and Peterborough’s Gold Account because they have a debit card that doesn’t charge a fee for atm withdrawals abroad. That way it was easy to see what we had spent while we were away by subtracting what was left at the end of the trip from what we started with. In actual fact we transferred money in each month from a higher interest account but you get the idea. There were 3 other ways we paid for stuff on our trip – the first was on Alysa’s credit card (a Mastercard which doesn’t charge a fee for foreign transactions), the second was dollars we took with us to pay for visas and the third was app purchases which were charged to my personal account.  

Step 2: We downloaded two apps to our phone; Spending Tracker by MH Riley Ltd and Easy Currency Converter by ExtraAndroary. Whatever we spent we would convert from local currency to GBP with Currency Converter and then enter into Spending Tracker.



Step 3: When we got home we:

Exchanged any remaining currency back into pounds and counted what we had left:  £86.32

We then 

Calculated what we had spent in our joint account:  £23,640.02
Checked off the credit card purchases on Alysa’s Mastercard:  £6,393.50
Added the cost of app purchases which came out of my account:  £59.11
Added what we had paid for the dollars: £476.66

A total cost of:  £30,482.97

Step 4: We now had two costs: what we had actually spent and what we had recorded on Spending Tracker. Spending Tracker converts currencies at what is known as the mid-market rate; a sort of ideal rate where there is no cost for currency conversions.

In real life Visa and Mastercard charge a small percentage over the mid-market rate for foreign purchases and atm withdrawals.  We replaced the figures for Mastercard entries in Spending Tracker with the actual figures from our bank statements. On average Mastercard charged 0.51% over the mid-market rate.  

To make Spending Tracker match our actual spend we added a fixed percentage (0.78%) to everything else we bought abroad.  The general consensus is that Visas currency conversion rate is a bit worse than Mastercards so this seems to make sense. 


Step 5:  The final step was to convert everything to dollars using the mid-market rate on the date that each transaction took place.

The final total was:  $41,666.56   ($20,833.28 per person)

To see the actual spreadsheet click here.