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View Full Version : Help me get this "driving to Orlando" budget down, please!


disneysuncat
06-24-2009, 10:19 AM
Okay, I need some of you budget experts to help me out with my "travel to/from Orlando" expenses.

First, some basics. I am the only driver in the family. It's me, my mother, and my little girl. It's around 900 miles from here to Disney. I plan to drive down over two days, which (with stopping for breaks) is around 8 hours per day of driving. Coming back, we plan to drive home over three days, taking it a bit easier, maybe enjoying the town we stay over in a little bit.

I've gotten it broken down like this:
$400 (food on road. I do plan to have a bit of this left over at the end of trip.)
$200 (gas)
$400 (three nights hotels. One going down, two coming back.)

So, that's $1000 for coming/going. ALSO, we are planning to rent a car, and Enterprise (the ONLY rental place available in my area) has quoted me $802, this is with a AAA discount, and with their damage waiver thing. Without the damage waiver, the quote was $454.

I figure someone's suggestion will be "just fly!". I am scared of flying (yes, I have done it before) but not totally opposed to it. (my little girl doesn't want to fly, either.) Plus, I like to drive. Also, it's over 2 hours to get to the nearest airport, then I'd have to pay for parking there for my trip, etc. Overall I really don't want the flying option.

Can any budget geniuses out there help me with this?

wall*e2008
06-24-2009, 10:22 AM
Have you considered the auto train (if you are in the NE) or the train to get to FL?

disneysuncat
06-24-2009, 10:27 AM
Have you considered the auto train (if you are in the NE) or the train to get to FL?

I'm in central Kentucky (a bit south of central), we're not close to ANYTHING. :(

This always ends up our whole deal about going to Disney, no matter how great a deal I get AT Disney, it's still the cost of getting there (and back) that just eats up the cash.

englishteacha
06-24-2009, 10:27 AM
Do you need to rent a car? With the cost of renting, can you put that money into the vehicle you already own? If you decide to rent, can you just rent one way? If you're staying onsite, you could use the WDW transportation, you could rent the car to get there and back, and not during the time you're in WDW. Have you considered taking the train? It might be cheaper than renting a car...you never know till you check.

You could pack breakfast and lunch foods instead of eating every meal out while you travel.

If it were me, I would plan on taking 2 days to drive home instead of 3. Less food, less hotel money spent.

If I lived within 2 days of driving to WDW, I would drive. We're a full 26 hours (without stops) from WDW here. It's 2 really long days or 3 reasonable ones. That's 6 days of vacation just spent in the car. Blech. I did it as a kid...don't wanna do it again!

lorilori
06-24-2009, 10:32 AM
Are you sure that $200 will be enough for gas round-trip? We were close to that driving 1200 miles roundtrip plus the extra miles in/around Disney (at 20miles per gallon w/our van).

wall*e2008
06-24-2009, 10:35 AM
Could your Dr. give you something to calm your nerves so you could fly?

jboysen
06-24-2009, 10:45 AM
Family of 3 here, just drove in march from southeastern mn, about 1400 miles each way, our expences were this:
gas=$250.00 (gas was quite a bit cheaper then, we have a mini van)
food=150.00 (we brought a cooler and stoped at rest stops along the way to make sandwiches for lunch. We also stayed at hotels that had a continetal breakfast in the morning, most do.)
hotels=$295.00(we had a total of 4 nights in hotels)
I hope this is of some help.

disneysuncat
06-24-2009, 10:47 AM
Do you need to rent a car? With the cost of renting, can you put that money into the vehicle you already own? If you decide to rent, can you just rent one way? If you're staying onsite, you could use the WDW transportation, you could rent the car to get there and back, and not during the time you're in WDW. Have you considered taking the train? It might be cheaper than renting a car...you never know till you check.

You could pack breakfast and lunch foods instead of eating every meal out while you travel.

If it were me, I would plan on taking 2 days to drive home instead of 3. Less food, less hotel money spent.

If I lived within 2 days of driving to WDW, I would drive. We're a full 26 hours (without stops) from WDW here. It's 2 really long days or 3 reasonable ones. That's 6 days of vacation just spent in the car. Blech. I did it as a kid...don't wanna do it again!

On the rental car thing, I have thought about just getting my car (2004 model) "travel-ready". Our reservations on that is when we last drove to Disney (in '07) I felt that the car started "driving funny" and was terrified of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, even though I had AAA. I wasted two hours in a garage (I can't even remember what state) having it checked out. They didn't find any issues, but it still drives funny to this day, lol. My mother is really the big pusher on the rental car, she wants the security that IF something happens, Enterprise would just bring us a new car and we could be on our way.

My local Enterprise company said that they don't do one-way rentals out of state. I sure wish they did!

As for the food, we may pack a few things. We don't really eat much, especially while on the road. I am okay to go on powerbars for myself. I do plan on having maybe 1/2 of that food money left, but wanted to have it at that level in case some unexpected expense came up along the way. (I mean a genuine expense, not a "I need a picture frame made out of seashells expense. :rotfl:)

ETA: maybe I should put $100 of the food money back to the gas column.

I'm still debating the flying thing. The rates I looked at a day or two ago was around $951 for the three of us. Add in having to drive the two hours to the airport, and airport parking, which I am clueless about cost-wise.

JB2K
06-24-2009, 10:51 AM
First, some basics. I am the only driver in the family. It's me, my mother, and my little girl. It's around 900 miles from here to Disney. I plan to drive down over two days, which (with stopping for breaks) is around 8 hours per day of driving. Coming back, we plan to drive home over three days, taking it a bit easier, maybe enjoying the town we stay over in a little bit.

I, too, am in a similar siutuation (and will be traveling, soon)...

I've gotten it broken down like this:
$400 (food on road. I do plan to have a bit of this left over at the end of trip.)
$200 (gas)
$400 (three nights hotels. One going down, two coming back.)

$400 seems a little "much" for three nights of lodging to/from Disney -- you may want to pare that down to a budget chain such as Super 8/Red Roof (unless you are looking for more than just a comfortable place to sleep).

$200 for gas seems about right -- but given that gas prices are volatile (and current events in Iran can't possibly help this siutation), you may want to ramp-up your fuel budget to (at least) $250.

ALSO, we are planning to rent a car, and Enterprise (the ONLY rental place available in my area) has quoted me $802, this is with a AAA discount, and with their damage waiver thing. Without the damage waiver, the quote was $454.

It's no secret that CDW's are huge money-makers for the rental car business. Check your auto policy for any riders, etc. that may include coverage on car rentals (many policies have it built-in). Otherwise, $454 sounds pretty much spot-on.

I figure someone's suggestion will be "just fly!". I am scared of flying (yes, I have done it before) but not totally opposed to it. (my little girl doesn't want to fly, either.) Plus, I like to drive. Also, it's over 2 hours to get to the nearest airport, then I'd have to pay for parking there for my trip, etc. Overall I really don't want the flying option.

I understand. I love to fly, too, but in my case, driving usually trumps airfare times 3. Many, here will suggest flying, but you need to take into account the added expense of ground shuttle service to/from your house, or long-term parking fees. It alll adds up...

Again, I would scale back on the hotels to/from WDW and drop the CDW on the car rental -- that should help.

disneysuncat
06-24-2009, 10:57 AM
I have a question about that CDW thing on the rental car. Enterprise told me if I don't have it and heaven forbid...WRECK ...that I'd have to give them my car insurance deductible before they'd give me a new car. Is that right??? $454 sounds a lot sweeter than $802.

And thanks for the responses, everyone, I need ALL the help I can get!

JB2K
06-24-2009, 11:00 AM
On the rental car thing, I have thought about just getting my car (2004 model) "travel-ready".

That's the best way to budget...

That said, here are a few suggestions to get a car "travel ready":


Oil Change
Automatic Transmission Fluid check/change
Top-off all fluids
Check brakes
Check belts/hoses
Rotate tires


Also, for AAA members, I suggest upgrading to "AAA Plus" -- it costs more, but in the long run, should anything go wrong with your car, it's much cheaper to tow to the garage of your choice, rather than "first one available".

CyndiLooWho
06-24-2009, 11:01 AM
Just drove down and back from central KY last week, and you can do it cheaper than that.

First, why not drive your car or you mom's? That's the biggest single expense that I can see and unless your car is on its last legs, I'd put some money into it and drive it. We took my 5 yo car to the dealer 3 wks before the trip and had the whole thing completely checked and had the spare tire aired. They didn't charge for that b/c we did have $300 worth of necessary work done at the same time (replaced some suspension linkages). That was much cheaper than the rental car you're looking at.

We took the trip down in 2 stages, stopping just outside ATL for just $50 + tax at a comfort inn, no reservations and AAA pricing. We did the whole drive back on the following Sat, arriving home 1am Sun morning. With some good books on cd and a portable cd player, this was no problem for us. But you could stop in ATL again and spend another $50 + tax - that's $300 off your hotel budget. The comfort inn (45 miles north of ATL on I-75, can't name the town) was very clean and comfortable and right next to Waffle House.

Next, I think you planned too much for food. We ate 6 meals on the road for 2 adults and 2 hungry boys. We did Qdoba, Wendy's, Hardees, McD's, Waffle House and Cracker Barrel, and spent only $160 for 3 travel days, including the three pricier meals. You have one less person and at least one much smaller appetite.

So, my suggestion is to get your car in really good shape and drive it instead, to use 2 days each way, and to stay somewhere a lot cheaper than you planned.

Green Tea
06-24-2009, 11:04 AM
You will need less than that for hotels. This is a good opportunity for Priceline. If you know where you want to stop along the road, bid after looking at betterbidding.com. A Holiday Inn Express/Hampton Inn/ sort of place is probably about $30-35 a night. If you want to stay in a larger city at a Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental type of place- on a weekend maybe 50-60, weekday maybe 90.

You could drive your car to the first airport along the way and Priceline a rental from there. A midsize car for maybe $15 a day. I would think you could park your personal car at the office while you rent.

Lisa_M
06-24-2009, 11:09 AM
Could your Dr. give you something to calm your nerves so you could fly?

I agree. That is a lot of money to drive. 5 days of travel and $1k. We just came back and our airfare for the 3 of us was $420 plus $129 for the rental car for a week. Plus you're there so much quicker. I get nervous flying too, but if I were the only driver, I wouldn't even consider driving.

If you're set on driving, I would suggest skipping the damage waiver, as long as your insurance will cover you driving a rental. See if you can get a deal on priceline or hotwire for the car rental.

What about taking a train or Autotrain to Florida? You could drive to Lorton, VA and get the autotrain there. It's not cheap, but probably cheaper than driving the whole way, getting hotels and quicker too.

disneysuncat
06-24-2009, 11:13 AM
We're bypassing Atlanta, and the mountains. I won't drive though or close to Atlanta again unless it's for a one-on-one meet and greet with Johnny Depp himself. :) Driving through the mountains makes my heart jump out of my chest. Yes, I know I have freaky fears. :)

We are driving through Birmingham, down to Columbus GA as our overnight stop. The way home I was planning to stop in Dothan AL and in Huntsville AL. Our hotels choices (which are subject to change) were like Courtyard by Marriott for $103, for example. My mom is pretty particular about where she sleeps, and I don't *think* I can get her in a Red Roof or anything. This may be open to change, though.

Overall my car is in good shape, it's about time for new tires, though. I will definitely look into that AAA "plus" should we decide on using our own car.

Now, I have thought of another way. MOVE closer to Disney. :) We do plan to move to Florida at some point but it's not nearly soon enough.

ETA: I hadn't really thought about trying to get rooms by bidding, that is a great idea. I don't know if there would be any car rental deals, as we live in SUCH a small town, and Enterprise is all we have.

disynut
06-24-2009, 11:39 AM
Hi to a fellow Kentuckian :)! We have driven 3 out of the last 4 times to WDW. It takes us 14-15 hours including stops. We usually stop overnight each way just cause it's easier. We can't do the drive all night thing---with little kids it's just too hard. While we'd prefer to fly, driving is just usually cheaper. Not sure where you are in central Kentucky, but the car rental sounds high.....I know we have a local dealer, Pogue Automotive that rents minivans and I've priced them for a week for around $350, but I'm not sure about the road protection that they offer. They are a family, locally owned company.

I agree about Priceline for your hotel rooms, and you can also Priceline rental cars if I'm not mistaken. We've driven through Atlanta and through the Alabama route. I don't blame you, my DH drives through Monteagle, TN(the mountains), but driving straight through downtown Atlanta at night is not bad at all(like 10 pm on it's pretty empty unless there's something going on that night). We avoid the bypass because all the truckers have to take it, I think. The drive through AL does add a few hours to your time, but it isn't a bad drive as far as mountains and big cities.

purpletiger
06-24-2009, 12:20 PM
You have said in previous posts that Enterprise is all you have. You might want to look into another rental car place on the route you are traveling (in advance and make a reservation) and drive your own car to said rental car place and then take the rental from there. You might get it cheaper than going with the one closet to your home.

Another option on the hotels is tell your mom you have a set budget for the hotel going/coming and if she wants to stay at the more expensive hotels then she can pay the difference. Just a thought.

We are going to Disney in 3 weeks and we too are driving from Texas though. When I mentioned to my grandma that we were going she insisted we drive. She said kids nowadays have it so easy to just fly but they never really get to see our country and scenery anymore. My kids will love just looking out the window and seeing something different that our usual surroundings. Going through the different states, etc... I even printed up some travel bingo and license plates games so they have to look out the window and not always watching a DVD or playing their DS's. :confused3

Anyways good luck and have fun.

CowboyCO
06-24-2009, 12:37 PM
Okay, I need some of you budget experts to help me out with my "travel to/from Orlando" expenses.

First, some basics. I am the only driver in the family. It's me, my mother, and my little girl. It's around 900 miles from here to Disney. I plan to drive down over two days, which (with stopping for breaks) is around 8 hours per day of driving. Coming back, we plan to drive home over three days, taking it a bit easier, maybe enjoying the town we stay over in a little bit.

I've gotten it broken down like this:
$400 (food on road. I do plan to have a bit of this left over at the end of trip.)
$200 (gas)
$400 (three nights hotels. One going down, two coming back.)

So, that's $1000 for coming/going. ALSO, we are planning to rent a car, and Enterprise (the ONLY rental place available in my area) has quoted me $802, this is with a AAA discount, and with their damage waiver thing. Without the damage waiver, the quote was $454.

I figure someone's suggestion will be "just fly!". I am scared of flying (yes, I have done it before) but not totally opposed to it. (my little girl doesn't want to fly, either.) Plus, I like to drive. Also, it's over 2 hours to get to the nearest airport, then I'd have to pay for parking there for my trip, etc. Overall I really don't want the flying option.

Can any budget geniuses out there help me with this?

OK -- Here's your obligatory "I think you should fly" response".

For three of you, you should be able to find airfare for $250 each ($750 total) nd parking would run you $5-10 a day, so for less than $850 you could fly, spend more time in the parks and extend your stay in Disney and still save $500 over the cost of driving. If you can deal with the fear of flying thing, that's what I'd recommend.

CowboyCO
06-24-2009, 12:40 PM
I just looked online, and I don't know where in south-central Kentucky you are, but AirTran is currently offering roundtrip airfare in January and February from Knoxville to Orlando for $109 each -- that would be $327 for all three of you. Non-stop flights that are only an hour and 40 minutes.

I found it doing a flexible date search on Travelocity.

PrincessMom4
06-24-2009, 12:51 PM
Family of 6 driving a van (and yes we we super lucky last time we were able to head home from WDW to Canada before our transmission blew-there was some "leaking fluids"but we made it home safe and sound).

Gas - $500USD (making sure u know its in US funds)
Food - $200 groceries, snacks, etc (we had free dining!!)
Hotels - $250 -that's 2 rooms there and 2 back

torinsmom
06-24-2009, 01:07 PM
You can get nice hotels through Priceline too; just bid on 3.5* or better. Betterbidding.com has lists of probable hotels in each star category in different cities/zones.

As far as the car rental insurance, definitely check with your car insurance agent as to your coverage. My dad is an insurance agent and my insurance includes rental coverage. You may be able to add it if you don't have it. Also, you can use AAA WITH a rental car, since it follows the person, not the car.

I'd definitely check into flying. It would probably save you money, and would DEFINITELY save you the time, aggravation and stress of driving for so many hours.

Marsha

JB2K
06-24-2009, 01:20 PM
That is a lot of money to drive. 5 days of travel...

One of those extra travel days is by the OP's choice. Otherwise, from Central Kentucky, 4 works, just fine (or she was a "hard-charger", it could be done in 2).

As for air service, she would have to drive a great deal just to get near a major airport (Louisville/Cincinnati/Nashville).

What about taking a train or Autotrain to Florida? You could drive to Lorton, VA and get the autotrain there. It's not cheap, but probably cheaper than driving the whole way, getting hotels and quicker too.

But to get to the DC area from KY, one must go through mountainous West Virginia, which in terms of driving, can be a challenge, in itself...

ekatiel
06-24-2009, 02:02 PM
I just looked online, and I don't know where in south-central Kentucky you are, but AirTran is currently offering roundtrip airfare in January and February from Knoxville to Orlando for $109 each -- that would be $327 for all three of you. Non-stop flights that are only an hour and 40 minutes.

I found it doing a flexible date search on Travelocity.

Holy Cow, that's cheap!! I'd book it and call the doc for some anti-anxiety meds! --Katie

disney1990
06-24-2009, 02:16 PM
We drove to Disney on Tuesday, June 2nd from Maryland -- about 950 miles. We took the Auto Train back home.

We spent:

$110.00 on gasoline.

$419.22 for 6 nights at the Hawthorn Suites (which included breakfast). We had booked a room with 2 king beds, but were upgraded to a suite.

We left our house at 6:30 am and arrived at Disney at 8:30 pm the same day --- no extra hotel expenses.

The only thing we bought on the road was a $5.00 sub from Subway. We carried a cooler with drinks and snacks.

gk90
06-24-2009, 02:19 PM
I agree that that AirTran rate sounds wonderful! My DH used to be the worst flyer--on our honeymoon flight he was in a cold sweat and turned all green and clammy. Thanks to a combination of relaxation techniques and medication he was able to work through it and now doesn't need the meds any more.
Whatever you decide, have a good trip!

ceecee
06-24-2009, 03:07 PM
I would really reconsider the flying, especially with a child. We drove to FL once from Ohio and were wiped out for the day after we arrived and the day after we got home. DD would go crazy for that long in a car. Plus you loose valuable "park time":rotfl:
Flying is great, less than two hours and you're there. Magical Express waiting to take you to the hotel where you have no hot car issues, parking, traffic jams, risk of accidents, etc. Flying is safer than driving.

kydisneyfans
06-24-2009, 04:19 PM
We drive from the Lexington, KY area and budget around $300 for travel expenses.

90 gallons of fuel @2.40/gallon=$215. That is in an SUV. We build up Speedway rewards points and will have a $50 gas card plus maybe .50 off per gallon for 1 fillup. We may have the Kroger .10 discount too for down the road.

Breakfast is either Cracker Barrel or Chick Fil A. Lunch is packed. Dinner is whatever we see. We have the same going back.
If we stay during the trip, it is pricelined for less than $50. We drive straight through, 865 miles. It took less than 13 hours last trip.

A couple of observations:
-Your rental car costs way too much, if taking 65, why not drive to Nashville and park at the airport for a week. You should easily get a week for under $200 for a good sized car.
-$50 max for a hotel.
-If 3 people travelling, budget 20-25 for a meal. Drink water instead of soda. Don't be afraid to pack a lunch. Kroger has ham and cheese on sale cheap this week, I can make 8 sandwiches for less than $3.
-Map out likely gas stops, it can save a bundle. Several fuel chains have their prices posted on the web. I have a Pilot Travel Center 4 miles from here at 2.57, I knew the one in Corbin KY was 2.39 today. Guess where I filled up while in southern KY?

mpbest
06-24-2009, 04:24 PM
Check out some of the discount or name your own price sites for a rental car. We have done this several times and it is always ALOT less than going directly with the company. We usually get lucky and get a free car upgrade. The last time it was two upgrades and we ended up with a small SUV! Also, I never purchase the insurance through the car rental agency, to me it's a waste of money. Especially since my personal ins. would cover the car rental. JMO:)

jlima
06-24-2009, 06:54 PM
On the rental car thing, I have thought about just getting my car (2004 model) "travel-ready".
ITA with this. We just drove our 5 yr old Mazda mini van 1,300 miles in 9 days on our California vacation. Think of the $$ you'll save.

kellydizfan
06-24-2009, 10:13 PM
O.k. problems with renting cars to travel. If you do not buy the insurance, the rental car company will put the cost of the vehicle on your credit card you use to rent it and any money they loose while the vehicle is out of commission. This could tie your credit card up for months. Especially if you only have one credit card. Some credit cards have rental coverage built in - you may want to ck on that. O.k. they mentioned insurance, I am going by NY State - not sure about KY. NY insurance, covers the rental vehicle under liability - not comprehensive & collision so there is no deductible that comes into play if you rent a vehicle, just the issues above as they will not wait for your insurance company to make up its mind. This is for personal insurance covering a personal vehicle. I would ck with your insurance agent, on KY rules. We are driving in a month and driving actually further than you are. We are planning $100 a day expenses. We will have our cooler with food and drinks in it. There will be 5 of us. We have AAA. We will be eating off property most nights for dinner - this will be our break. We will get milk, etc. when we get down there for cereal in the morning, pop-tarts, muffins, etc. for breakfast. Lunches will be bagels, sandwiches, which we will take in the parks with us. We will have a small fridge in the room plus the large cooler to store stuff. There are ways around the price. Oh, I will also do most of the driving over the 2 weeks we are gone. Our vehicle will also be serviced prior to leaving by our mechanic that does all our work on my vehicle. Enjoy your trip!

Disneyliscious
06-24-2009, 11:28 PM
Ok.....yes this can be doen MUCH cheaper. Im not a flyer either so Im not even gonna go that route with you....

I, like you, have an older car that I dont want to take. For me, a rental is added security. If it tears up...I gt another one. If Im driving mine and it tears up....Im stuck spending $$ and waiing on repairs.

Where in South Central KY are you? How far from Nashville? You can rent a mini-van in Nashville for $280 a week. I booked mine a month ago and just checked it again at CarRentals.com. Its through Enterprise. You could get a much better rate as you dont need the space of a mini-van. You should easily be able to get an intermediate car for $150-$200.

If you cant drive to Nashville, or have no where to park your car.....

Rent the smallest car possible for ONE day at your local Enterprise - a one way rental. Then, drive to Nashville and rent one of the weekly specials I mentioned above (you may consider minivan so your daughter has room to stretch out). When returning, return to the Nashville Enterprise and then get a one day rental from Nashville back to your local dealer.

Next, your budget for food is way too high. Pack a cooler with lunch meat and sandwich stuff. Take chips, lunchables, etc. Eat from the cooler instead of eating at restaurants.

Also, 2 days down, 2 days back. Its about an 11 hour drive for us from Nashville. We do it all in one day. We always leave around 10PM at night....no traffic and its cooler so you use less gas. We arrive in Orlando about 11AM the next day.....shop for our groceries and then we're able to check into hte condo/house/hotel. If you can do it in 13 hours.....drive it in one day and use the extra day(s) for your vacation. If you must stop.....stay at a Super 8 as someone else suggested. If your mother has to have "pricey" then let her pay for "pricey".....not you.

My entire 6 day trip in October, including gas, is running about $1500 (groceries an souvenirs are extra). Thats for 4 people with 2 nights of MNSSHP, a condo, a mini-van, the Pirates Dinner Show, and going to Gatorland.

You just have to get creative...but yes.....you should be able to save a LOT more than you are planning on spending.

AnnaS
06-25-2009, 06:42 AM
Since the Autotrain and Amtrak are out of the question, I would really consider flying. My daughter and I hate/are afraid of flying but we still do it. I book it and when the time comes, I have no choice. We do make ourselves a bit sick before it though.

My daughter hates it so much, she got off the plane three years ago right before the doors were closing. That's another story. Our luggage flew without us but I was able to convince her to get on the next flight.

The doctor told us to take Benadryl right before flying (we bought the strips so we did not have to worry about liquid or my daughter swallowing pills. She is almost 17 and still cannot swallow them. She has flown since then but it's not our preference/choice of transportation. I would rather take Amtrak/Autotrain.

I am not sure I would feel comfortable with an older car and three women getting stuck in the middle of no where - but you know your car.

wishtdream
06-25-2009, 12:14 PM
http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com/TripGasPrice.aspx

We use this site to budget for our driving costs. I don't live anywhere near the op but we do a 17 hour drive. We use our own van and Our kids 6 and 2 this year are fine.