One of my friend’s recently asked me if I could provide her an example of how I plan out a specific trip. So, I decided to share my plan for our 2020 Spring Break Family Road Trip. Yes, we were able to find five extra days for travel this year! I’m super pumped!
Below is a step by step guide to what I did to plan out or trip. Please keep in mind this is a tentative plan, as weather changes, life happens, and as I’ve learned, things don’t always go as planned 🙂
Step 1: Set Trip Budget, Travel Goals, and Date Range
First off, we set our trip budget at $1,500 for this trip. This will allow us to still have enough for our annual family vacation in the summer.
We plan to travel over Spring Break, so the kids are out of school. We have commitments on the weekend before break, so we are planning to leave on Monday and return on Friday. This trip will be five days, four nights.
With our budget, we know it is not feasible to fly a family of four anywhere and stay for a week. We also know that we want to visit more states, but we don’t want to spend the entire five days in the car. So we decided on a road trip where we could get to our destination within eight hours or less. We decided on the Nashville, TN area as our destination for this trip.
We set our travel goals for this trip as:
- Visit three more states in the United States, (we have a goal to visit all 50 states before the kids graduate high school)
- Visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL
- Visit the Parthenon in Nashville, TN
- Visit Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
Step 2: Find and Book Lodging
The next thing is to find and book our lodging. We are planning on staying around the Nashville, TN area Monday thru Wednesday night, because it is centrally located among the places we want to visit.
The things we look for when booking a hotel for this trip is free parking, free WiFi, free breakfast, kid friendly, fitness center and an indoor pool.
I start by looking at the hotel points I currently have to see if I have enough for a free night or a discount. I also consider we are planning on going on our summer vacation yet this year, and decide we should save our points and free nights for that trip, because it will be a longer trip and expenses will be higher.
So, with that in mind I decide to look at hotels with our amenity options within a 20-mile radius of downtown Nashville. We don’t mind spending the $20 to park downtown and explore for the day, if staying outside of town saves us $50-$100 per night.
I was able to book a hotel with the amenities we wanted, Monday-Wednesday night, for a total of $420. The hotel is located 20 minutes outside of Nashville.
For our Thursday night stay we decide on staying just north of Louisville, KY, where I was able to find a hotel for $120 for the night.
Step 3: Decide on Activities
Activities that we want to do or places we want to see on this trip, including the cost, are as follows:
|Nashville||Cooter’s Place (Dukes of Hazard)||Free||$0|
|Nashville||The Parthenon||$6 adults/$4 kids||$20|
|Nashville||Walk Broadway Street||Free||$0|
|Huntsville||U.S. Space and Rocket Center|
(INTUITIVE Planetarium Combo Tickets)
|$32 adults/$24 kids||$112|
|Kentucky||Mammoth Cave National Park|
(Domes and Dripstones Tour)
|$17 adults/$12 kids||$58|
|Kentucky||Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory||$16 adults/$9 kids||$50|
Step 4: Meal Options and Incidentals
I like to set a flexible plan for our meals while we are on a trip. It helps to have something planned when we land somewhere and are hungry. It is also nice to be flexible with it, so we if see a place we really want to try out, we can go there instead. Below is our meal plan for this trip.
|*All breakfasts at home or hotel|
|Monday (Travel Day)||Lunch||Picnic|
|Dinner||Rockn’ Dough Pizza and Brewery|
|Tuesday (Nashville)||Lunch||The Grilled Cheeserie|
|Wednesday (Huntsville)||Lunch||Mars Grill|
|Dinner||Hattie B’s Hot Chicken|
|Friday (Travel Day)||Lunch||Picnic|
We also figure out other incidentals such as gas, parking, etc. Below is what we are estimating for incidentals on this trip.
|Gas Estimate: 1200 mi @ 20 mi/gal = 60 gal @ $2.50/gal||$150|
Step 5: Budget Check
The last thing I do is see where I am with my budget. If I’m over budget, I adjust expenses accordingly. I like to have a little wiggle room in case we find an additional activity we want to do, or a certain restaurant we want to try that is not in the budget.
How do you plan for your road trips? Do you have any money saving tips? Please share in the comments below.