Um, well, this is a little bit overdue! We've been home for a month, but I guess we've been busy. I outlined a budget before we left, and wanted to do a comparison to see whether I was on target.
We rented a larger vehicle for comfort and boy was that worth it! From extra room for all the baby gear to more leg room for us to the advantage being able to change a diaper in the back of the car*, this was well worth the cost. I tried to get a Name Your Own Price deal, but turns out I was able to get a better deal by going straight to a rental location that was not at the airport (and, bonus, closer to our house). Expected Cost: $363. Actual cost: $364.73
Gasbuddy's trip cost calculator estimated $247.62 roundtrip. Expecting extra driving around at our destination (but forgetting to include needing to fill up before returning the car), I called this a $300 expected cost. Actual cost: $332.42
We stayed at three hotels during the drive portions of the trip. I booked one hotel before we left, because I knew we would spend that night in that town, but otherwise booked through Priceline's Name Your Own Price feature while we were on the road. Two of our hotels were fine, and one was totally amazing and we plan to stay there every time we make this trip from now on. Expected cost: $300. Actual cost: $217.89
We took a lot of snacks with us (fruit, granola bars, beef jerky, water, soda, and crunchy/salty stuff), and we came home with most of it still in the cooler. I'm not sure how to explain this, other than we needed to stop every few hours for Baby M to run around, and we succumbed to the lure of fast food almost every time. We didn't ever pay for water, though, so that was good. This total includes some groceries we picked up to make Baby M's blends on the road, as well as takeout the night we got home because we did not feel like grocery shopping after driving for two days. I didn't predict an expected cost, but the actual cost: $262.94
We bought a car charger for our phones, picked up some booze for our cat sitter, went to the movies, and bought postcards for a young friend at each state we visited. Our incidentals expenses were $35.99.
Our trip cost us $1,234.26 total. I had hoped to keep it under $1,000, which probably wasn't very realistic. Flying would have been quite a bit more expensive, since we would have had to buy three seats plus still rent a car at our destination. I'm not a huge fan of road trips as I get older (especially with a toddler!), but the cost savings will make me grin and bear it for years to come.
* I was SHOCKED at the number of places that don't have baby changing facilities in their bathrooms.