I used to think that we could vacation for $100 a day, all five of us. Well, actually six, because I count the dog's luxurious accomodations in our vacation budget. But then I started adding. And I reconsidered.
So, now I'm thinking that we can be under $200 a day. This is what I'm thinking:
We're going about 2500 miles. I'm only counting gas for these purposes, not the whole "wear and tear" thing, because, well, frankly, it would blow my vacation budget, and my car repair budget is high enough to cover all that garbage. Because when you drive an old clunker, you'd better budget a lot for repairs. Sorry, back on track: counting on 18 miles per gallon and $3.00 per gallon (Guess what? We're NOT driving to California!) Per my math (which may be a little fuzzy), that's about $500. Ouch.
The dog's hotel costs $18 per night. Which includes a $1 charge for giving her medication. Do you think we could save money there? Hmm. Sarge did ask which would be cheaper - putting her down or boarding her. He was joking, of course. Please, please don't take me seriously on that one -- $216 it is. We'll round up to $250, though, because she might have to stay an extra night or two if we can't get to her in time.
I think that lodging for us will be about $450. This is the best source of saving money for us, though a little contentious at times. I'd be perfectly happy in a tent all 12 nights. Sarge would prefer to stay in hotels part of the time. But we'll spend three nights in a hotel while we are visiting the city, and the rest of the time camping at state parks. Because we're in a tent, we don't need electricity, so our sites will run us about $12 a night, averaged. The hotel we're staying at is about $100 a night, so again with the rounding, we're at $450, and lots of prayers for good weather.
Admissions. There are a bunch of places we'll go where we'll need to pay an entrance fee. Fortunately, we still have one that is *sometimes* free, so that helps a little. I think we'll go about 6 places that we'll need to pay an entrance fee, at about $50 for the family. I might be estimating low on that, but we're NOT going to Disney.
Food. This is a hard one to estimate. Usually, when we're on a road trip, we stop to get ice every morning and stop at WalMart or a grocery store every other day. That way, we eat a meal with meat every other night, and I don't have any questionable meat issues. While we camp, we eat breakfast and dinner at the campsite, but we'll also include fun stuff, like s'mores or ingredients to make ice cream in the ice cream ball. But we'll eat most every lunch on the road and then when we're in the hotel, I can't cook dinner. So we'll eat out there, too. But we don't ever eat anywhere that expensive, and the locations that we're going aren't notoriously expensive, either (NOT going to New York City!). Oh, and we'll need snacks for the car, also, preferably things that keep them quiet for long periods of time, like Laffy Taffy and peanut butter. So I'm guessing $500 for food.
The last budgeted item is souveneirs. We each end up with a T-shirt from one of the places that we go and the kids end up with something else, like a stuffed animal (we have stuffed prairie dogs and coyotes and a burro so far.) or some other good memory. I'm guessing high on this one, hopefully, at $250. But sometimes a really good book shows up, and I'm a total sucker for good books.
The only other things I haven't included are the things that I'll buy for the actual road trip. We have so many great car things already, and I'll probably make a run for stuff the kids have never seen before the day before we go at about $50.
I'm going to write down all that we spend and see how I do, in order to help budget for next year's trip. Hopefully I'm not forgetting anything! Can YOU think of anything I'm forgetting? 'Cause I'm all ears!