Trip Expenses – 5 day Road Trip to Asheville, NC


We travel on a tight budget.  I certainly wish that I had buckets of money like that picture over there, but the truth is I had to go to Flickr (Photo courtesy of borman818) to get the picture because I don’t even have 5 bucks in my wallet to take a picture of!  There are things that we give up in our daily lives so that we can afford to travel.  There are also travels that we have to give up so that we can afford to fix a broken washing machine or some other expense that we weren’t expecting.  We have responsibilities in our own city like house and car payments, swim lessons, and the electric bill (which is ridiculous this summer!).  My husband has a full time job where he has to show up at an office from 9-5 and is given a couple of weeks of vacation a year.  We have to work around that vacation, but believe me…we take every day we possibly can.  Sometimes, we don’t get to use all the vacation for that year.  Many times, he is tethered to his laptop working on our vacations.  

There are a lot of articles out there about travel being expensive and something that you can’t do.  We are here to prove that you can travel on a budget and have a great time doing it!  I am not sharing our trip expenses from this vacation to sound braggy…I am sharing them because it is one of the first questions we get asked…”Isn’t travel with a family of four too expensive?”

We aren’t the only ones that think travel can be done with a little bit of saving and prioritizing.  Spencer at The Traveling Philosopher and Carol at New York City Mama have both written about this issue recently.  My hope is that this trip report will show you a real life breakdown of what it costs for a family of four to take a five day road trip.  Here is a rundown of our expenses from our most recent trip:

Hotel Expenses

We stayed in a Country Inn and Suites off of Tunnel Road.  I pricelined the hotel for the first time in years and years (reviews of both the hotel and our Priceline experience to come!).  After several tries, we got the hotel for $65 a night.  After taxes, the total came to $307.48.

Gas Expenses

Luckily, gas dropped several cents right before we left for our trip.  Also, we were traveling to an area where the gas was cheaper due to lower gas taxes.  I had about 1/2 of a tank of gas when we left, we filled the tank 3 times – $49.07; $56.01; $51.54.  We got home from Asheville on Sunday the 26th and I got another four days of driving around town before I had to get gas.  We drove a total of 1164 miles.  Our gas total for the road trip was $156.62

Food Expenses

One of the benefits to staying in a Country Inn and Suites is the free hot breakfast.  The breakfast included make your own waffles, cereal, breads and pastries and more.  We ate breakfast in the hotel each morning.  I ate lunches at my conference and my husband and children ate peanut butter or ham sandwiches, chips and other snacks we brought with us.  We ate at local eateries that were reasonably priced for the most part.

Day One – $12.18; $13.18

Day Two – $40.86

Day Three – $26.72

Snacks and Lunch Supplies purchase before we went – $66 (We brought home a lot of food that we will use throughout the next few weeks while we are at home!)

Our food total for the trip was $158.94.

Activity Expenses

The main reason for our trip to Asheville was so that I could attend a blogger’s conference.  My conference ticket cost $149 dollars.  While I was at the conference, my husband and children explored Asheville.  They went hiking, kayaking, and visited a few other attractions.  The attractions listed below were for one adult and two children to visit. 

Asheville Outdoors Center (kayaking) – $34.00

Western North Carolina Nature Center (admission) – $16.00

Chimney Rock (hiking) – $17.00

Asheville Tourists baseball tickets for 2 adults and 1 child (my 4yo was free) – $32 + $6 (popcorn and drink)

Our activity total for the road trip was $105.

Total Expenses for a five day road trip to Asheville, NC (from Pensacola, FL) with my family of four was $728.04.  If you add in my conference ticket $149), the total is $877.04.  I know this is no small sum but I love that a 5 day 1100 mile road trip can be done for less than $1000.  With some planning and saving, a trip costing less than $1000 is doable.  Over the next few weeks, I will be going into detail on some planning and saving techniques that worked for us. 

Do you have any tips to save for vacation?


  1. 1

    This is a really useful post! I wish I had noted down our expenses on our road trip last summer.

    I love those jars that you can get for saving that don’t open until you smash them. My friend used one to save all of her £2 coins and ended up with a few hundred pounds for a weekend treat.

  2. 2

    Great ideas! I’m always glad when I see people talking about money and travel. People assume that travel is way too expensive or that people who travel make tons of money. Good for you for helping to shatter those stereotypes.

  3. 3

    Wonderful post! I meant to keep track of our expenses in St. Pete this february and forgot. As for tips, I tend to not buy admission to attractions in advance because I don’t like to be forced into visiting on a particular day, but you can also save that way. Instead, before leaving, I usually google the attraction name and “coupon”. I’m usually amazed at what pops up! Then I just print them off. If we don’t end up visiting, no money lost, but if we do, then at least we save a little.

  4. 4

    Great post Jen and thanks for the mention. Travel really isn’t and doesn’t have to be as expensive as people think and media paints it. It certainly can be, but if people want to travel, the means are there. It’s worth mentioning also that there are a lot of lodging alternatives, like vacation rental websites, which can often save money.

  5. 5

    What a great post! I love hearing about people who have made great memories off of a few bucks. Thanks for sharing.

  6. 6

    Great post! My favorite money-saving tip is that you don’t have to go far to have fun and see something new. A quick day or weekend trip within a day’s drive can be just as fun as a long overseas vacation. You just have to have the right attitude!

  7. 7

    Your food budget is very reasonable. We are setting our RTW budget at $100 a day for a family of 4. Tough! I think the big one is lodging. $65 a night seems very good, but long-term lodging kills budgets. we carry a tent always and yes it gets DIRTY!

    Love th post and love seeing families find ways to experience the world on a budget! Thanks!

  8. 8
    Gail Hasty says:

    This is very useful information. I long to go to Asheville on a trip. I live in Myrtle Beach so I’m not far away. The information you provided makes me see that it is doable on a tight budget.

  9. 9

    Don’t forget to calculate the costs of what you may have spent at home (food, gas, entertainment) during the ‘vacation’ week. If you have time off to spend with your kids, you would probably do a few things at home, plus you buy food anyway no matter where you are.
    I think about the costs of a holiday in terms of what I would spend on top of my normal spending. That helps to keep things in perspective, and makes the idea of saving a lot easier.
    Great post.