Normally I solo road trip, but sometimes it’s really nice to have someone go with you. On my latest trip to south Florida, my best friend joined me. Because I knew the more expensive items like camping and fuel would be split two ways, I kind of splurged a little in some places, like on food. My budget goal for this trip was to stay under $500. And I came in with a total of $499.46 spent on the trip, right under budget!
The trip itinerary
For this trip, I met up with my best friend, Crystal, at my sister’s home in Dumas, Arkansas, about two hours from my home in Hot Springs, Arkansas. From Dumas, Crystal and I drove to O’leno State Park just below the panhandle in Florida. We spent one night at O’leno State Park so we could break up the drive. From there we drove to Long Pine Key Campground in Everglades National Park.
At Long Pine Key Campground we base camped for six nights while exploring the Everglades and nearby Biscayne National Park. From there we drove to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where we got a hotel for the night. And then we headed home.
$281.70 (split between two people)
Fuel costs is always a big expense. With a total of about 2,500 miles from my home to the southern tip of Florida, you can see why. Gas prices on this trip were between $2.50 and $2.85 a gallon. In total, we spent $281.70 on fuel. But because there were two of us, we split that cost between us, with each of us only spending $140.85.
Camping and Lodging
$270.33 (split between two)
When I travel solo, I sleep in the back of my car. This makes it super easy to camp in-between long days of driving. I literally just have to park my car and crawl in the back. But when you add another person, there’s not room.
Our first day of driving, from Dumas to O’leno State Park, was only 11 hours, so setting up a tent wasn’t too terrible. But on our way home, we had a 14-hour driving day. Because of that along with the fact that I couldn’t find a good campsite around where we wanted to stop, we opted for a hotel and shower on the way back. Of course, I normally don’t stay in hotels because it’s too expensive, but this trip was split between two people. So our $99 bill wasn’t that terrible.
With the hotel and the campground fees, we spent a total of $270.33 on lodging. Split between two people it was $135.17 per person.
$63 eating out, $55 groceries, $14 freeze-dried
Another area I took liberties on my budget was eating out. But when you are in South Florida, you need to try alligator and a Cuban sandwich. I spent $55 on groceries for lunch and brought my freeze-dried Bushka’s Kitchen meals from home. However because I ate out, I only freeze-dried for two meals.
My eating out cost totaled $63. So if you add those up along with my two freeze-dried meals, I spent $133.22 on food.
$54.89 (-$85 because of canceled trip)
When you go to the Everglades, you’ve got to explore by water. I debated on taking my kayaks, but then I found out it was only $40 to rent a canoe for all day. That was the easiest option. And I probably saved that much in gas mileage by not strapping my kayaks to the top of my car.
We were supposed to do three excursions: a canoe rental, an airboat ride, and a boat tour of the islands at Biscayne National Park. However, our boat tour at Biscayne was canceled at the last minute, so we only had two.
Our airboat ride was $33.32 per person, and our canoe rental was $43.13, which we split. Had we been able to do the boat tour, it would have been an additional $85 per person. It would have been worth it to bust my budget, but it didn’t happen.
I did end up buying a t-shirt, hat, and stickers for a total cost of $35.30. Crystal bought more souvenirs than I did, but she was nice and bought them for other people.
South Florida Expense Report
Another factor that made me not so tight with my budget, was getting the government economic stimulus payment two days before leaving. But I really didn’t spend too much more than I normally would have. And while I do love a solo road trip, my best friend and I had a wonderful time together.