Trip Expenses – 5 day Road Trip to Asheville, NC

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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?

Saving Money on Disney Souvenirs

I am headed to Orlando this month without my family for a working trip.  We head to Orlando at least once or twice a year because we live so close.  It is easy for us to book a weekend at an inexpensive hotel and spend one day at Disney.  Our Disney trips are not necessarily the week-long dream vacations but we like it that way.  Living nearby gives us the luxury of being able to visit Disney without breaking the bank.  Sometimes we travel to Orlando and skip the theme parks completely and just spend an afternoon at Downtown Disney.  It gives us a chance to see what else Orlando has to offer. 

Disney is the land of souvenirs and it is hard to get out of that place without making a purchase whether it be a stuffed animal, a princess dress, or Mickey ears.  There are some things that you can only purchase at the theme parks but if you aren’t picky, head to the local Walmarts or Targets.  Both stores carry a large amount of Disney trademarked items included bags, hats, shirts, water bottles, and so much more at a fraction of the cost!

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I will definitely be stopping by one of these stores to pick up a little treat to take home to my kids!

Four Ways to Save for Vacation

Photo Courtesy of borman818 - Flickr

In my review of 2010, I mentioned that we always try to travel on a low budget but that 2010 was no exception.  We had lots of unexpected expenses but we still made room in the budget for traveling because it is important to our family.  My latest article on Traveling Mom is about four different ways we save for vacation.  If you have a moment, drop by Traveling Mom and leave me a comment with your favorite way to save for vacation.

Throughout the next month I will be giving our tips, secrets, and things we have learned along the way to help us save for vacation and be able to travel the way we want to and as often as we want to.  I am thinking about making it a weekly post!

Photo Courtesy of borman818