Budget if Driving?


Earning My Ears
Dec 31, 2000
I have been reading posts for the past few months, but just now registered. Hope I put this on the right board.
We are wanting to drive from the Houston area and would like some tips on how to figure our "on the road budget"
Thanks to all of you, I have the rest of our trip in the beginning phase of a very nice budget.
We are going to be able to do more than we thought we could do on our budget. Maybe even stay an extra night. YEAH!!!!!!
Only problem is my dh is sick of me talking non-stop with excitement about all of the great tips I have gotten from everyone here. OH WELL-- he will thank you when I pull this budget off.
Thank you for all of your help.
Welcome Bearybad. I can't offer help as I fly from New England, but surely some one else has advice. I know how exciting the first time is. Only better is the second time. And the third, and the fourth etc. Good luck and lots of fun.

You are very lucky to have found this site before your trip. I wish I had, but I learned enough to go back for more and save some money too.


[This message was edited by cassie on 12-31-00 at 11:56 PM.]
Sometimes we fly, sometimes we drive. When we drive from Dallas we reserve a hotel there and back ahead of time. We usually stay in Mobile at the Hampton Inn that's on the Bay. You could probably make it further in a day than we do, perhaps to Tallahassee. You get a free breakfast at a lot of these hotels. We budget for a fast food lunch each day and a Cracker Barrel type dinner. Sometimes we have been able to eat at WDW for the second day's dinner. We figure out our gas milage and estimate what we'll spend gas there and back. Don't forget to figure in an oil change and getting the car in top running order. With kids a video player in the car or cassette tapes with stories are a huge help. We always figure in beverages and snacks from the gas stations. You may be more frugal than we are in that area and you may even like to pack your own coolers of food to save on those food stops.Have fun
You can find the best deals on the snacks and drinks you love.put them in an extra suitcase,you will need the suitcase to pack souvinors in or if you don't buy any,then you can pack laundry in it. Speaking of laundry pack some detergent!! :D :D :D



We leave at bedtime or in the middle of the night
so the kids will sleep and we can get alot of
driving done with hardly any traffic. We eat a
late breakfast and have a picnic packed in a
cooler for a late lunch at a rest stop so the
kids can run some energy off. There are lots of
rest stops when you get to Florida. We also have
a small cooler with drinks and snacks, if you are
on a budget then you want to avoid the high prices
of quick gas stops for food. I would rather save
my money & spend it when we get there!! :)
We have driven 3 out of the past 4 years. Are next trip is in May. I would love to drive but there is 7 of us and it is too expensive.

The first year we drove straight threw. Never again. It is dangerous (more accidents occur from tierd drivers than drunk drivers). It toke more time to recover once we got there.


The last two trips we took a car and mini van. We used a turtle shell on the van for luggage. We drove about 950 miles the first day (17 hours).


Around Pensacola area , we stay at a state park camp ground. This saves us time from unloading the van/car at a hotel. We do pitch tents. The parks are very nice. I really enjoy sleeping under the stars also. The cost for the 7 of us to camp is under $20/night.


I go to are local Sams Club before each trip to get munchies. Fill the cooler with soda/gatorade.
I also use a bag (luggage even sounds better) for snacks. This helps keep the van cleaner and the munchies less smuched. I also over buy on these, (over $100 for junk food) . Next trip, pringles and drinks (will not need bag for food then).
We eat before we leave. I have also made sandwiches and stopped at fast food for lunch and dinner. The second day we eat at Shooneys. Great buffet breakfast, reasonable price. This is enough to get us to Disney (about 400 miles). Once we checkin at Disney we usually go to downtown Disney for late lunch early dinner.

Our next trip we will be staying at the camp ground two days instead of overnight. It is soo close to the ocean. The beaches are wonderful and not crowded.

Things to remember to budget for when driving,

pre maintenence on car
toll road $$
tourest traps (things you just have to have to remember trip or palaces you have to see along the way)

Hope this helps



How exciting! Oh you will have so much fun! I love car trips!! We have driven from NH and I always pack a cooler with milk, cereal,a trail mix, sandwich makings, drinks and of course we fill a thermos of coffee for DH. We also leave home after an early supper and dress the kids in comfy clothes so that they can sleep. We wind up in North Carolina at 6am as the sun rises! We stop at a rest area and have an outdoor breakfast. Its great!! Thats how we save money... and also we have been able to safely drive straight through. No hotel and no resturants.
Another tip: bring along a container of sanitizing wipes for rest area bathroom stops. Sometimes the toilet seats need to be wiped down...I always wipe them down before we use them.


We always drive.

First suggestion-If you are not a AAA member, I strongly suggest a membership. Their tourbooks, etc are fantastic. Plus you never know when you run into things like flat tires, keys locked in car, etc. My aunt joined after getting her keys out of her van cost her $15 more than a full year of AAA would have for her. We went through 3 flat tires in one year. (We have the PLUS membership ourselves-tows you up to 100 miles). Also their discounts are good on motels.

Second-Sam's Club has great motel discounts for places like Red Roof & HoJo's and a ton more. They seem to have the consistently best discounts. (RR - no continental breakfast). Also get member cards for any chain you would consider staying at. Holiday Inn has good discounts with their Priority Club. Super 8 has 10% unless special events.

Third- Make a ressie on a 6 pm hold if you can, then when you are entering a state, stop at Vistors center or rest area and pick up the motel discount book magazines they have. We have never had a problem with ones we have stayed at. Got a Red Roof in Lafayette Indiana on homecoming weekend when they shouldn't have even given us the discount because of special event & only one room left for $29.

If you always plan on traveling by car you might want to consider the chains reward programs too for motels where you earn points on stays (Marriott & Holiday Inn & Hampton have them). The redemptions may take a while to accumulate but when its free, so what? We stayed 3 nites outside of St Louis at the Fairfield for free.

Watch for discount codes on the giftcertificate sites. I believe the 2 major ones carry Marriott (Fairfield) and if you can get $ off an order, you can further decrease your room costs. Also every Fairfield I have stayed at has had a wonderful continental breakfast.

Also-I didn't read how long before you are going but we paid for a ton of our stays with Reward programs off the internet, see the Rewards page for more details or the mycoupons.com board (is it ok to say that here?) A lot have food coupon rewards too.


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<marquee> Inaugural Member Of the WDW Resort

We drove last year from PA (1000 miles) and loved it. We plan to do it again next year. We figured about $100 for gas. We did not make any hotel ressies for the way down or back, because we didn't know how far we'd get. Motels are really cheap in the SC and GA area. Lots of places in the $35 a night range. Even chains like HoJo etc. Every place we stayed also had some sort of breakfast, which saves time as well as money. I also took Pop tarts and lots of other snacks just in case.

Have fun!


CBR Jan 2000
Next Trip Jan 2002 Where to stay?
My family and I have driven every year for the last 5 and it really saves a lot of money over flying especially if you have a large family. We live in MD, so we're not driving in the same direction, but it usually costs us about $125. round trip...it can be a lot of fun.
We usually like to leave in the evening so that we miss rush hour and pack 1 cooler with dinner and another with drinks and snacks. We also never make reservations for overnights on the way down or back(we drive until we're tired. Some hotels will charge less if you wait until after midnight to stop and sleep and you'll get a few hours sleep verses driving straight through. Try and look for a hotel that offers free continental breakfast also.

You'll have a really good time...just plan well in advance and take along plenty of books, games, music and such to do on the way.
I also strongly recommend joining AAA. This is a great bonding experience and if you take some Disney books along you can plan some of your trip together...have fun!
Thank You,Thank You all for the wonderful tips. My planning binder is really getting full. But even better then that... after reading your posts, my DH is now checking this board before I get a chance to. He is getting excited also (Not as hyper as I am, but it is a start.) Our planning video came in so between it and this great bunch at DIS, he'll be up to speed in no time.
One tip of my own---we thought about AAA but found out that when we extend the warranty on our GMC Van next month it comes with roadside assistance--which includes trip planning, hotel discounts and some of the other things AAA has.
Once again thanks so much for the great tips, I found several that I had not thought of.
May God Bless you all.


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