Reunion Road Trip: Budget Breakdown

Since I still don’t have internet in my new home and haven’t been able to transfer my pictures onto my computer, I’ll start off my vacation recap posts with a budget breakdown. P and I (mostly me, truthfully) are budget-conscious travelers. I hadn’t crunched the numbers on this trip yet, so I wanted a chance to do so.

I [presumptuously] invited us on this trip several months ago, when I found out that our friend Lauren, who’s been working in Hong Kong for the past year, would be home at her parents’ house in Cape May for a few months this summer. Luckily, Lauren said we were welcome to come stay! Three other girls from P’s master’s program also wanted to join in, so it became a reunion!

Once we settled on a date range that worked for the group, the details got more fleshed out. Since Lauren’s family was gracious enough to allow the group of us to stay in their house, we knew that lodging would be free. (Cha-ching!) However, as we got closer to the actual event, Lauren let P know that on Friday night, her house would be full, so he and I would have to shell out for a hotel room. (Womp, womp.)

I thought it would be no problem until I started searching for hotels with availability on July 19–the height of this beach town’s summer season. The cheapest rooms I could find were in the $250/night range! Not happening. P courteously volunteered to pay for the room (which he managed to find at a cheaper rate, thanks to a local suggestion from Lauren), if I would pay for aquarium tickets, because, surprise!, he also wanted us to go to the Baltimore Aquarium! (My relentless reminders about my desire to visit the Georgia Aquarium must have gotten to him.) There was also an alumni gathering in Washington D.C. at a Nationals game on Saturday night that P wanted to add. I had never been to a baseball game, so we threw that into the mix!

So with a basic itinerary in mind, we set out on our reunion road trip. Here’s how we did budget-wise*…

Day 1 (7/17, Charlottesville to Baltimore to Towson):

  • lunch at Chick-fil-A: [$10 gift card] + $3.74 more
  • National Aquarium tickets (2 x $34.95): $69.90
  • Parking at the National Aquarium: $24.00
  • Dinner + lodging at P’s aunt and uncle’s house: FREE
  • TOTAL: $97.64

Day 2 (7/18, Towson to Cape May):

  • Delaware Bay Bridge toll: $8
  • NJ turnpike toll: $4
  • one additional toll: $2
  • stop for gas (in New Jersey where they pump it for you!): $24
  • lunch at The Lobster House: $10.65
  • 1/4 lb. of fudge: $4.38
  • Christmas present for Dad: $19.25
  • dinner + drinks at [??]: P paid
  • lodging at Lauren’s house: FREE
  • TOTAL: $72.28

Day 3 (7/19, Cape May):

  • a few hours on the beach: FREE
  • poolside cookout at Lauren’s house: FREE
  • dinner at McGlades on the Pier: $34
  • one night stay at the Cape Harbor Motor Inn: $184.68
  • TOTAL: $218.68

Day 4 (7/20 Cape May to D.C. to Haymarket):

  • breakfast at Avalon Coffee Co.: $19.16
  • sightseeing stroll around town: FREE
  • new battery for my car (!!!): $126.26
  • Delaware Bay Bridge toll: $8
  • NJ turnpike toll: $4
  • gas at a rest stop in Delaware: $33.66
  • lunch at a rest stop in Delaware: P paid
  • Baltimore-ish area toll: $2
  • Metro tickets: (2 x $9): $18
  • Nationals tickets (2 x $28): $56
  • Bottle of water at the Nats game: $4.50
  • Dippin’ Dots at the Nats game: $5.50
  • 12:30am dinner at McDonalds: $10.96
  • Lodging at P’s friend’s new townhouse: FREE
  • TOTAL: $228.04

Day 5 (7/21, Haymarket to Charlottesville):

  • brunch at Mimi’s Cafe: $30
  • TOTAL: $30

TRIP TOTAL: $706.64

Trip Total after subtracting my new car battery: $580.38

*NOTE: Although for the most part we alternate paying for things, these totals reflect the fact that P and I paid for many of our meals in cape May separately (so these are my numbers). There were also a few additional discretional purchases (alcohol and snacks, mostly) that aren’t reflected here, because they weren’t my purchases!

Overall, I’d say we did a pretty good job for a 5 day, 4 night trip!

And I’ll really try to get some photos transferred tonight, because I’ve got lots of good stuff to share!

Does anyone have any go-to vacation budget tips? Any expert ways to save money? I really think that having free lodging and a car that gets good gas mileage helped keep our costs down!