Thursday, June 5, 2014

Going on a road trip!

We've been planning to take Baby M south to see my family for some time, and back in March we toyed with the idea of driving. Well, that's for real now, and I'm starting to hammer out a budget for it.

Rental Car 
We chewed over whether to put the wear and tear on our car or spring for a rental car, and after looking closely at the gas mileage we've been getting on ours, we decided to rent a small SUV. It'll get about the same gas mileage but it will be so much more comfortable. I tried to Name My Own Price but didn't get any good deals for such a long rental, so we booked directly with Avis. I will try to find a coupon or something to bring in when we pick up the car. I verified that our car insurance will cover the rental in full, and our credit card company will cover the deductible as well. We have roadside assistance through our family cell phone plan, so we should be set here. Expected Cost: $363. 

Our next biggest expense, and an unavoidable one. Gasbuddy's trip cost calculator estimates $247.62 roundtrip at today's gas prices. Since we'll be driving around locally at our destination, I'll estimate at least one extra tank of gas and call it an even $300 expected cost. 

We'd thought of driving through the night to save on this cost, and if it were just the two of us I think we'd do it, but since we've got a baby in the back seat, safety trumped expediency. We expect to spend three, or possibly four, nights in hotels on this trip. I'll look for Priceline deals or coupons on the road, but we'll budget $300 for this as well.

Finally, a category where I might actually be able to save some money! I'll be packing a lot of our own snacks for the drive - we have to take a cooler for Baby M's medicine and blended food anyway, so we might as well stock it with healthy (and some junk) food to save us money on the way. Fruit, granola bars, beef jerky, water - any other suggestions? We will probably stop for at least one "real" meal per driving day just for a sanity break, but hopefully we'll get breakfast at our hotels to balance out that spending. All of Baby M's food will be coming from our pantry. We'll try to make food instead of going out when we're at our destination, although in reality I know we'll be eating out quite a bit there as well.

Um, what else might we spend money on? Maybe we'll go to a movie, while we have grandparents to babysit. We will have to have someone take care of our cat and garden while we're gone, so a nice gift is in order there. We've already ordered a car charger for our phones, so I guess you could consider that $3.99 as part of our trip expenses. I might pick up some dollar store toys for Baby M to distract her from the long hours in the car, but otherwise I think I have everything covered.

Anyone have road trip tips for me? It's been a long time since I've done this. Snacks to pack or avoid, ways to entertain a baby in the car, or great podcast suggestions welcome!

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