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Posts tagged with: road trip

Travel Costs


One of the biggest bones of contention in my latest budget is my travel budget for the year – $6,000. I felt maybe a little more explanation was needed…not justification.

Gymnast to Georgia

First, this is first year Gymnast has lived away from me. And thusfar, I’ve only had to purchase two airplane tickets…one was $366 (round trip to visit us over his Spring Break) and one was $74 (one way flight to Georgia for the summer). I’ve got one more I know I have to purchase to get him home this summer. And then I know I will bring him down either for Thanksgiving for Christmas…at least.

Trips from Chicago to Georgia, can add up quickly and I want to have a buffer in case I ever need to facilitate a trip quickly…my grandmother and mom are fine, but I know things can change at any point. I have to be in a place to bring him home quickly if I need too.

Georgia to Texas

As long time readers are aware and someone pointed out in the comments, my mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinsons in the last couple of years. As she has declined and been limited in what she can do, we have increased our trips to Texas. That is why the quarterly trips at this time…

And they fluctuate in expense…depending on the time of year, who all is going and how we are going. Last Thanksgiving, I had planned for all 5 of us to go and rented a car. This Spring Break, it was only 4 of us and we took my car (which ended in a wreck.) And this summer, only Princess and I are going and we are flying….

When we drive, it’s 28 hours of drive time round trip, which means a minimum of 2 but possibly 4 hotel nights depending on how driving goes. (We typically get there in two days of drive time, but here are times when we must stop more.)

Ok, are you getting the point…if we 3-4 times a year, it adds up. $5,000 (subtracting some for Gymnast travel) ends up being $1,250-$1,566 per 9 day trip. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

This Summer

Princess and I will go alone this summer. My dad bought us airline tickets to get there with his credit card miles. And our return flights were $74 each (just like Gymnast as he will be returning home with us then.) So our summer trip cost will be minimal…

With that in mind, I am not willing to change the budgeted monies. I will be more comfortable with a buffer in case of emergency.

I hope this clears up why this amount is disproportionately large compared to the rest of my line items. It is certainly not representative of my dedication to getting out of debt. But it’s no surprise that my family comes first…

Do you have things going on in your life that trump the “full on sprint” to debt payoff?


Traveling with young children


Hi friends! Happy Sunday! I thought I’d break from the mold and throw you a post today that I’d previously planned for Monday. This means you’ll only have 2 posts on Monday instead of 3, but I thought – hey, why not? Plus, it gives me more time to plan per your advice! Thanks in advance for all the helpful comments!!!

I need your advice!

I’ve mentioned that we decided (as a way to celebrate being credit card debt-free), that we’re going to drive up to Utah to visit my Dad for a long 4th of July weekend. I want to explain the financials of this trip….

First, my Dad has graciously said he would like to cover our gas money for the trip. We will also be staying with him for free. From past experiences, I know that he also pays for the majority of our outings, too. We may have a couple out-of-pocket food related expenses (certainly for our days traveling, but also while in Utah. For instance, I have a friend who moved to Utah for a work position and I’d like to meet her for lunch one day). Overall, though, this has the potential to be a relatively low-cost trip. Also – you may or may not remember, but I have built into my budget a low amount of monthly savings ($25/month) that I tag as “for travel and/or Christmas” expenses. My intention in making this savings (a sub account of my Capital One 360 savings account), was to use a portion of the money on gifts, and a portion on travel expenses to get back to Texas. Since setting up the account we’ve decided we’re not going back to Texas for Christmas, so I think I’m going to dip into the account to cover some of the expenses for this trip (not sure how much yet, as I am not sure what our out-of-pocket expenses will be yet).

Here’s the main conundrum…..getting from our home to my Dad’s home is about a 12-hour drive (each way). That’s 12 hours with only very short stops for gasoline and bathroom breaks. We have two toddlers. So, there’s that.

I am so conflicted. Last time we went to visit my Dad was a long time ago (before the girls were even walking). We did do the trip all in one day, but it was miserable. The way there was awful: lots of crying and fussing, lots of extra stops and breaks, and just not a pleasant experience. The way back was even worse. We decided to drive overnight so the girls would be sleeping the whole time and we could make fewer stops. Although we did manage to do the trip at a faster pace, it was brutal. I distinctly remember having a conversation along the lines of, “we’re too old for this sh—“ and “never again!” At the time, we had made the executive decision that 12 hours (that can easily turn into 14 hours with frequent stops) is too long to drive in one day with two toddlers and that the drive must be broken up into two days.

So now you see my problem. Breaking up the drive is problematic for many reasons, but all circle back around to one thing….finances. Stopping in the middle means we have to pay to stay in a hotel. It means more time on the road eating fast food (or day-old sandwiches), which costs more money. And, finally, it costs more in terms of missed work (for Chris, specifically. Thankfully I can still work on the road since my work is online).

What to do? What to do?

I do not want to spend the money (and additional time) staying in a hotel on our way to Utah. I want to just drive and get there. I just don’t know if it will be possible. It was so miserable last time that I’m scared. What if it’s even worse now that the girls are old enough to be walking? Will they want/need to stop every couple hours to get out and walk around? Will they rebel when being put back into the car seats? Will they throw absolute toddler meltdown tantrums extraordinaire that cause stress-induced (and noise-induced) migraines? I am scared.

Please, please – give me your advice and suggestions. Given that the trip is going to be so inexpensive otherwise, I don’t think it would break the bank to get a hotel, but it definitely presents problems time-wise (with Chris’ work). It is certainly my preference to make the drive in a single day.


Have you traveled long distances with toddlers? What has worked for you to keep them happy and entertained? What would you recommend?