Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pick My Trip Budget

So I am in the beginning stages of planning this Mega Summer Road Trip for 2017.

I haven't even tried to figure out a budget for this Behemoth yet so I'd like to pick the brains of my readers.

Here are the details to help you figure out what you think we should plan on spending for this shindig.

* I've completed the tentative trip route and here is a close up on the area we are frolicking through.....

* We will be traveling for about 28 days total covering about 7000 miles total.  A national report notes that in 2017 gas will be at it's high of $2.67 per gal. but should go down over the Summer so I am figuring $2.50 avg. per gal. for this trip.  The car we are renting gets 27 city/39 highway and has an 18 gal. gas tank.  Who wants to do that math? ;-)

* About that car rental, that is the only "known" amount right now, at a total after taxes and fees of $932.

* We have free lodging for up to 4 of those days so this means we need to pay for 24 nights of lodging.  I am looking at an Air BNB option or two once we get to ID, but otherwise it will be one or two night stands along the way.  There is one special lodging we might do in WY for 1 night if we can get a reservation when we need it.  This one is pricey at $145-$165 per night.  Fort Laramie Bed and Breakfast

* How many meals we will need to pay for are unknown right now.  Most motel nights stays we will get a free breakfast.  While we will eat free at breakfast while at our free lodging(a friend's house), we will most certainly take them out for lunch or dinner at least once.  Hubs and I will try to eat one big meal a day(lunch)and just snack or have something light at dinner time or not eat again that day.

* There are admission fees for some of the sights/things we are going to do.......what we know so far(this for both of us)-

Mt. Rushmore--$11
Little Bighorn Battlefield--$20
Pioneer Archway--$24
Distillery Tour-$20

* We do need to purchase a GPS since Hubs no longer has a smartphone.(It's either that or pay $10.95 per day for GPS in the rental car...yikes!)  We hope to knock that off the list for $100 or less.  Any recommendations by those in the know on which brand/model to purchase is appreciated. 8-)

* Road Tolls-so far we know of one, the Mackinac Bridge in MI, at $4 per crossing.  And if we get through IL without paying a toll I'd be shocked! lol

* As far as souvenirs goes...we really don't plan on buying anything as keepsakes.  Maybe a postcard or a t-shirt or if I find something that would make an awesome Christmas present for someone I gift to.  I am sure Hubs will buy some alcohol of some kind to haul home but I don't plan on doing that.
I guess we need to build a souvenir budget into this plan but I am clueless right now on how much.

So that's what I have so far.
If you have any tips or ideas please send 'em on!

What should our tentative budget be based on all this?



  1. We have a Garmin GPS. It's a few years old, but I want to say that it was in the $150 range. We have smart phones, but the navigation apps eat a ton of data, so I generally prefer the Garmin. Don't forget your atlas and printed directions from Mapquest or something in case your GPS craps out on you.

    We have gone on 5,000+ road trips the last two summers and I would recommend booking lodging that is easy to cancel if your plans change. We wound up a little road weary on our last trip and switched up reservations at the end of the trip to give us some more "break" days from all the driving. We also decided to come home a day early, so we cancelled a 2 night stay at one location and booked a 1 night stay at a different place. There were some places where the dates were set in stone (national park lodging), but we definitely stayed flexible. Most places had policies that allowed cancellations by 6:00pm on the night before the stay.

    I have no clue what your budget will be on this trip! Way less than mine would be for a similar trip, that's for sure! :)

    1. The Steam Ship Arabia Museum in MO is a great stop to make if you like history. Some H.V.A.C. guys dug it out of a field. It sank and the river changed course. Artifacts from the mid-1800's are still being excavated! I'm not sure what your travel budget should be. The lodging is such a big expenditure. Have you done any Priceline research for the definite dates? We always have good luck saving money thru them.

    2. Thanks for the input on the GPS Ms. Moreless

    3. Thanks for the tip on the Steamship Museum Ellie. Looks interesting!

  2. have you considered picking a single chain of hotels and getting their loyalty card? if you stay there exclusively along the way you'll likely rack up free rooms by mid to late trip. Most programs cover several hotel banners.

    1. We have 4 chain loyalty cards-Choice, Wyndam, Holiday Inn and Hubs has Hilton so we've got that covered, thanks.

    2. Does AARP offer any perks as they say they do?

  3. My only advice is to have a budget that is fluid. You never know what you will decide to do on the spur of the moment. It has been my experience that some of our most interesting times are completely unplanned. that being said they almost always have a cost to them. And no, I am not going to do the car/gas math.

    1. Yes, we book some stays and have a loose plan we can change if you want to.
      I want to keep this as frugal in some areas so if we find something else we really want to do, the price won't keep us from it.

  4. You did not ask about this, but I read an article about National Parks. The gist was that now the lifetime pass for people, maybe just seniors, was $10 at present and will rise to $80 soon. There was no evidence of when "soon" would occur. It was surprising the places considered National Parks, some very small. Maybe you can get the pass for future trips since it is cheap now. I do remember that a driver's license was required, so take Hubs or his license along. Could not locate information because of time.

    1. You need to be at least 62 for the senior pass so neither of us qualify for it unfortunately. Last year the NPS took entrance fees off of some sites/places so we'll consider any of those we come across that we'd enjoy.

    2. Ooopa, I forgot about the senior bit not applying to you for the free pass, and was not trying to insult you! However, some places call 55 "senior." Since I am well above all limits, I forget to remember the standard for events or perks.

  5. I'll e-mail you with some ideas and your tentative dates for the Minnesota route. If I take your map literally, you practically are driving by my door step so unless when we are gone form my nieces wedding, I'd like to host you both for a meal at our place or one of our favorites. I know you do distillery tours and breweries, but are you big on winery's?

  6. I would make reservations at more remote/crowded places- but we depend on those silly travel guides at state rest stops (there is usually only one when you enter the state). Get the guide, look at the choices, pick one and call before 10am.
    Our rule of thumb is 100 miles, get gas, fill up a water, walk around the car twice and then go. My husband and son are driving two cars from CA to NY in the beginning of June.That is their plan as well.
    As far as tolls? We always go around. We don't pay any tolls until we hit Maryland and we have driven from AZ to Maryland more then I would like to remember!
    We have family friends who own for something different in Wyoming :)

    Do you know someone in Nebraska? Go to Pikes Peak and go I -70 through Kansas. Eat in Hays at Gella's Diner & Lb. Brewing Co. Stop in Dodge City. Really they are great towns. There is a place off the road in Junction City (home of Ft Riley) called Stacy's for breakfast (diner) or Tyme Out Lounge for a steak dinner. Or you could stop in Abilene (home of Eisenhower museum) and eat at Brookfield Inn. I would skip Topeka, drive to KC and stay on the Kansas side :) . Stop in at the Amish places in MO. LOL- can you tell we lived in Kansas for ten years?
    Anyway- love the adventure. Nothing like seeing the US. Have fun!!!!

  7. How exciting! I hope you will blog through out the adventure!

  8. Michigan is actually really big for micro-brews. Grand Rapids is known as beer city USA. There's a place my husband likes a lot several hours north of us (which looks like you'll be driving by it, sort of) called Shorts Brewing. But honestly you'll be driving through Grand Rapids and there's some really great breweries there too.

    This trip looks awesome. I calculate you'll be spending about $500 on gas according to your figures. Also, I got your e-mail. Sorry I haven't gotten back to you. I will soon.

  9. Avoid reprobates and loose women in Wyoming.

  10. If you stop in Kansas city, make sure to visit the Boulevard Brewery. The tour is free and you get a free beer.


Hey there! Thanks for leaving a comment. Though I moderate it's partly to keep spam out but also partly so that I read every comment. I don't often respond to comments so if you need me to answer you please write me at my email addy posted on my "About Me" page, linked on the side bar.