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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Default Phoenix to Washington, DC - Trip Budget

    Ok, so I'm working up the budget for my trip from Phoenix to DC next month, and I just want to run it by the gurus here to make sure I'm not overlooking anything.

    According to Google Maps, door to door driving distance, by a less direct route than I'm going to take is 2,368 miles. Sure, let's drive through Ohio! The route I plan on taking is I-17N to Flagstaff, then I-40E all the way to Knoxville, TN, and then I-81 into VA, and I-66 into the DC Area. My mapping software has this at about 70 miles less than the Google Maps route, so not a big difference, but a much more direct, and easy route. Anyone have any reason why I shouldn't take that route?

    Anyhow...back to the budget!

    I drive a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder, so it gets pretty wretched gas mileage. I'm budgeting at 15mpg (my low city mileage since I started logging, the high is 18.6mpg). I'm budgeting for 2,750 miles, to allow for back-tracking, side-trips and getting to the overnight stops. Who knows what the price of gas will be in a month, there could be a hurricane, or OPEC could do something stupid, or any number of factors could jump the price of gas. I'm budgeting fuel at $3.00/gal. This provides a total fuel budget of $560.

    Next on the list is food. Since this will only be a 3 or 4 day blitz style trip, I probably won't be "dining in" too often, especially in the evenings. I'm budgeting $40/day for food for the trip, for a total food budget of $200 over 5-days, just in case I get stuck somewhere and need to spend an extra day.

    Let's not forget about my cats, either. I'm going to be picking up a large bin of cat litter and a bag of cat food before the trip, so their food and litter are taken care of. I always carry ample water in the truck with me, so that won't be an issue. They will be in their carrier while in the truck. I've got that part already figured out and taken care of, so no need to budget for that.

    Lodging: I've spent a few days looking at various hotels online, and have come to the conclusion that $80/night is a high-average for convenient to the interstate hotels. I am including in my budget a pet fee of $10/pet/night for a total of $20/night for both cats. This gives me a $300 (not including taxes) hotel bill, or a total budget of $400.

    I will also be carrying an indetermined amount of cash to have on hand for rest area drinks and such.

    I have a large balance credit card available for any emergencies that may arise.

    Do you see anything that shouldn't be there, or not see anything I've overlooked? Do you think I'm being too conservative on my estimates? Low-balling it? Any help is appreciated!

  2. #2
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default It's best to overshoot!

    First, let me comment on Roadtrip food and say.... VIVA LA HOT DOGGERS! Gas station hot dogs are usually a good by and are about a buck. Eaten my fair share, never been sick. Its another of those check the surroundings type of thing. I can say though if you wander into a Quick Trip (as you should know), the inhouse food is just fine. But, yes, there are ways to cheat the food budget... just don't expect it to be a very healthy meal.

    With that said... I think most of your budget number seem fine for someone like me who doesn't mind tightening their belt and foregoing some 'comforts' on a trip. It won't be the greatest, but it will do.

    But, alas, even though I think they will work, its always best to overshoot a budget, especially when traveling cross country.

    Good idea on the Credit Card. You never know when you might need it!

    A suggestion: don't put all your cash in one spot. Keep some hidden in a suitcase or something, just in case.

    -Brad

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Wherever the journey takes me...
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Arizona Brad View Post
    A suggestion: don't put all your cash in one spot. Keep some hidden in a suitcase or something, just in case.

    -Brad
    That is something I practice daily. I never put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. It's a very good idea, and I would like to think that most people would do it.

    I'm definitely not opposed to sacrificing a little bit on a trip to save a few pennies.

    You don't think I've overlooked anything? I can't help but think that I'm forgetting something, but that's probably just the overanalytical engineer in me...LOL.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
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    761

    Default Pet friendly motels

    I am including in my budget a pet fee of $10/pet/night for a total of $20/night for both cats.
    I'm sure you can find pet friendly motels for less than that depending on what your standards are. Some chains (like Motel 6 and some Best Western) allow one well behave pet per room for free. I suggest you order their printed directories and have them handy so you can consult their pet policies and rates while looking for a pet-friendly motel on the road. I stayed with my cat all over the north east, midwest and south west in chains and Mom & Pops and never had to pay for an extra.

    Gen

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Default

    Oh, I know I can get it cheaper than that, but I'm budgeting worst case so I don't run out of money 400 miles from home and can't buy gas.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Budgeting high

    I tend to budget on the high side as well for the same reason. Unless money is really tight at the moment and I just can't do it, I also budget a miscellaneous fund that can be used toward areas where I find I under-budgeted or for extra opportunities that come up that I hadn't anticipated, like a really cool dinner/show, river-rafting trip, or something similar.

    Of course, you're in a perfect situation by having a credit card with a high-limit so, if the worst should happen, you have access to funds to help with that situation.

    I think your budget is fine.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
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    761

    Default Better be safe than sorry

    Findapath,

    I agree that you should budget a little higher for this trip because you never know what might happen. I was just telling you about some "cheaper options" among the pet friendly accomodations. I'm a night-owl and I'm not fond of advanced reservations so I run into fully booked motels every once in a while and have to consider more expensive alternatives. Plus, I was never good at budgeting, I always spend more than what was planned at first. I'm such a hedonist!:-)

    Gen

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Wherever the journey takes me...
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    Default

    Whoopsie....forgot to add in the taxes & fees that hotels charge...anyone know off hand what a good conservative guesstimate of the taxes & fees rate usually is? I'm thinking that it's probably like 20% or so...but I dunno.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Good question....and good guess

    Since I like to budget high, I think 20% is as good of a guesstimate as any. Often there will be extra taxes/fees on hotel rooms and these vary not only state-by-state but by locality within the states. I know that the Seattle area has additional taxes on some tourism-related things like hotels and car rentals that don't exist in other parts of WA state.

    Anyway, yes, use 20%. I think it will usually be far less than that but then you won't get hurt budget-wise if a few places do have taxes/fees that high.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Cities

    I also think 20% is quite reasonnable. Just keep in mind that bigger cities sometimes charge an extra 2 to 5% tax rate on accomodations. And like Judy said, some States have higher taxes than others, like Texas.
    -Gen

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