Road Trip Budget


One of my financial goals for 2018 is to save for our planned California road trip in the fall.  When I posted the goal, I set myself a deadline of March to have a detailed estimate budget sorted out.  And, since March starts this week, I figured I should get this sorted out.

So… What’s the plan?  Well, we don’t really have a plan yet… But, the last time we did a road trip down to California, it was a bit of a rush because we tried to get it done in 7 days… there and back!  For this trip, we will be traveling with a 6 month old baby, and will traveling further in to California, and staying there for a few days for the wedding… So I decided to plan for a 14 day trip this time.

Accommodation: 14 days x $150 = $2100

We are staying at an AirBnB in California, so that will keep the price down a little bit, and then for most of the trip down, we are hoping to camp.  I know, I know, camping with a 6 month old baby for that long is probably crazy, but that’s the goal.  We will have to do some practice camping throughout the summer to figure it all out, but I have no doubt that we will figure out a way to make it work… with the occasional hotel stay to break it up… maybe… Anyway, I have estimated that the average cost per night will work out to be $150.

Food: 14 days x $100 = $1400

With camping and picnics, with the occasional meal out, $100 per day for food seems generous and very doable.

Gas: 3000 km / 500 km/tank x $50/tank = $300 >> Round it up to $500 for good measure.

It is about 1500 km one way, so the total trip should be about 3000 km.  My car does better for highway driving, but I can’t rely on that for the whole time, since we will be doing some sightseeing.  And to allow for some side trips and such, I have just rounded up to $500.  Should be good, right?


Activities/Gifts/Extras: 14 days x $100 = $1400

To pay for activities, souvenirs, or whatever else we come across, I’ve budgeted for $100 a day.  This is where we could probably cut back, but I’ll try for this as a starting point.

Total = $5400

Add it everything together and we get a grand total of over $5000.  This might be a stretch to save up, especially while I’m on maternity leave, but I’ll work on the exact plan in another post.

What do you think?  Are my estimates looking okay?  Is there anything that I’ve missed?  Or do you think that I’ve over estimated the cost of our trip?


15 thoughts on “Road Trip Budget

    • No, campsites are definitely not $150 per night. They are more likely to be around $40 or $50, I believe, but I tried to get an average based on campsites and the occasional hotel room (I am sure we will want to have a break from camping a couple times, especially with a baby), plus the AirBnB at the wedding is pretty expensive… I just paid my friend for those 3 nights, and 1/3 of the accommodation budget is already gone…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Have you looked into credit card rewards points to lessen the cost of accommodation on your road trip? I’m not sure if you get access to the same credit card reward benefits as we do in the US, but if you do you should check out some of the links in the post below. We travel once or twice a year and use credit cards to offset most of our accommodation costs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think your gas budget is a little high. My tank is about the same size as yours I think (12 gallons, so just under 50 L) and I usually fill up for $20-30 USD per tank in the US. Most of your road trip will be in the US, right? Do you have a Costco membership? When we buy gas there, it’s usually about $20-25 per tank versus $30 per tank elsewhere. Anyway if you buy 6 tanks of gas at $30 USD each, that is $180 USD or $227 CAD.

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    • And I was glad to see the rounded up amount! Living in Southern California, we are paying about $3.40 per gallon right now. Even my little 10 gallon tank costs $30-35 per fill.

      We tent camped with a baby. It really isn’t that different if you are used to tent camping. It just takes a little longer to pack up.

      Liked by 2 people

    • My gas budget may be a little high… And yes, most of the road trip will be in the US. I’m never sure what the dollar will be doing when I travel down to the US, so I always plan for a bad exchange rate… We don’t have a costco membership… Though perhaps it might be worth getting just for the gas savings… Something to think about…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Jena, your long term goal planning always amazes me!
    With all your prep work, I know the trip will be great for y’all.
    And all your financial savvy will bring it in under budget, no doubt!

    Liked by 2 people

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