Planning a Road Trip!

Spring break was a bust.  Illness, bad weather, just overall blah for everyone.  We haven’t had a family vacation since 2014 – before my youngest was born.  We’ve always cruised each year, it’s our ‘thing’ we do with friends and family.  Due to DS2’s medical conditions, we’ve postponed cruising for the last two years.  We’ll be back onboard when he’s around 3 years old, I hope.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.25.25 PMIn the meantime, we’re all itching to do something.  So I’ve decided to plan a little road trip to Tennessee!  We’re going to check out Ruby Falls and Nashville.  I remember going to Ruby Falls as a child and loving it.  I was also a geology geek and collected rocks.  Much like my 6 year old!  He will love this summer adventure!


My budget for the entire trip is $1,000 – including all spending money.  I have just over $2000 in Digit right now, which is our newly appointed slush fund for traveling.

I haven’t figured out a food or gas budget yet.  I’m thinking $300 on food, max.  And gas around $200.  Which would eat up a chunk of the remaining budget, leaving only $214 left for fun money, but I think that will be plenty.  Unless there’s more tickets for activities to purchase, then I’ll reevaluate.


I’ve been watching for deals online through Priceline, Expedia, and for affordable hotel options.  This is the list I’ve created over the last few weeks….

$388.34 – Chattanooga Hotel
$272.26 – Hilton
$248.12 – Comfort Inn
$215.74 – Holiday Inn
$195.10 – Wingate

As much as we’d love to splurge and stay in the ritzy Chattanooga Hotel, it just didn’t make financial sense for this trip.  Plus you have to pay for parking and internet there!
In the end I didn’t book any of those above, because I caught a lightning deal for a 3.5 star hotel for $59.99/night (normally $149.99/night) on Priceline last night.  I booked for two nights and with taxes and fees the total came to $159.12!!!!  Not bad!  Includes: free parking, free WiFi, indoor pool, fridge and microwave in room, and a free breakfast.
  • $126.70 – Tickets
  • $159.12 – Hotel
  • $285.82 – Total
  • $714.18 – Remaining Budget

After our second night in Chattanooga, we’ll be heading up to Nashville.  We are fortunate that some family friends live right outside Nashville in Murfreesboro, and have offered us a place to crash for several days!  They’re empty nesters in a five bedroom home, meaning plenty of space without feeling like we’re being a burden.  Plus the wife is excited to babysit, which will give us one evening to go out exploring the town on our own – kid free!


I bought our tickets last night for Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Incline Railway.  For two adults and one child, the total came to $126.70.  Our youngest is free!

I’d like to take the kids to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, but tickets are around $80.  I’m holding out for a discount or groupon or something.  It’s not the end of the world if we don’t make it, we’ve been to the Atlanta aquarium (which is even more expensive), but I remember the Tennessee one being a lot better.

As for Nashville, I have no idea what we’ll do there yet, we’ve never been.  Any suggestions?  Kid friendly!  And something for a date night.

I’m excited.  Our little family needs some time away.  It’s not the big trips we normally do, but it is our first family-only trip.  We usually travels with friends and extended family.  This time, it’s just the four of us.  And it’ll be my little one’s first vacation ever!

Edit:  So we can’t bring a stroller to Ruby Falls or Rock City.  Now I have to find a toddler carrier to wear for the trip.  My son wears orthotics and cannot walk extended lengths of time, so a carrier is a must.  This might already be putting us over budget.  Or should I even consider this carrier purchase part of the travel budget??  The carriers I’m finding are $150-$200.  😦 😦  I have a moby wrap, but I don’t see that working out well.

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10 Responses to Planning a Road Trip!

  1. Lucy says:

    Your trip sounds like a lot of fun! Check out eBay for toddler carriers. Doing a quick check, they are much cheaper there.


  2. the road trip sound great. i would love to do them, but my child gets major car sick and is just anti-roadtrip anyway (how is she my child? i love roadtrips!). Nice score on Priceline.


  3. Pingback: Priceline (Agoda) Annoyance | Intrepid Debt Blog

  4. Dawn Poff says:

    If you have a family level membership to a local museum or zoo you can usually get in to other similar attractions for free or greatly reduced rate all over the country. There is usually a “x” mile radius requirement for the free entry though. For example we have a membership to a museum in Grand Rapids MI for free entry for a year. We can use that same membership to get into almost all the museums in Chicago for free because its outside of the 90 mile restriction. WELL worth it!


  5. Pingback: April Debt Update | Intrepid Debt Blog

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