Route 66 #1

Route 66 #1
Route 66 Museum

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Are We There Yet? Part 2 - Reality Check

In part 1 I presented you with steps 1 through 4 and gave you the resources you needed to begin dreaming out your Route 66 trip. This time around I going to give you the steps you need to begin focusing and bringing your trip into reality. This is where you do your reality checks that will allow you begin combing your dream trip with what you can actually do.  

Step 5 - Get to Know Your Car

Take as long as you can to get to know as much about the vehicle you will be traveling in. If its an everyday vehicle pay close attention to your gas mileage, and look for any potential mechanical issues. If its a vehicle your renting for the trip, or a new car or car that's new to you look online to find the average MPG for these vehicles, and at the kind of common maintenance issues that occur. Knowing your gas mileage will be key when it comes to planning the trip out and managing costs. Also doing as much preventative maintenance as you can at home will save you a lot of headaches on the road.

Step 6 – Computer Time – Cost Planning
Step 6 and 7 are going to require you to spend some time on a computer. For step 6 which we are on now you will need to find time to begin creating an MS Excel sheet to drop your dream trip into, if you don’t have Excel, try to use another spreadsheet program. If you find Excel intimidating, then use Word or another such program, but make sure you have a calculator handy. If you would like something to use as a template for Excel let me know, I might be able to help you.  It may also help to put everything into Word first and drop it over to Excel from there.
The goal here is to begin quantifying your dream trip, and then breaking it apart to fit the reality of your vacation time, and money.
 Hint: so you don’t totally rip apart your dream trip make multiple revisions within the same spreadsheetbut on different tabs. To do this right click on the tab, go to Move and Copy->scroll to (Move to End), and check the Create Copy box. This will take your original sheet and make a copy of it in the last tab of your workbook, here you can add and subtract items without destroying your original trip ideas, or creating 100’s of different spread sheets.

Step 7 – Research Time
Although Google maps and Mapquest aren’t going to put you onto 66 they will put you on to the interstates close by 66. Use these mapping programs to give you a rough estimate of mileage between your stops or for the day. I would place this data into the spread sheet you created in Step 6, and then using your gas mileage from Step 5 determine how many gallons of gas a day you will go to cover  that distance(Miles/Gas Milage) . I would suggest then multiplying those gallons by your current gas price +$0.50, to determine how much you will be spending on gas alone. The extra $0.50 added in helps cover unexpected gas price hicks well on the road, and also builds in a little cash for any oil changes, wiper blade replacements, or other odd items you may need for your car on the road. 
Tip: When planning how many miles to travel every day, figure that you will be traveling at about 40 MPH. This helps cover stops for site seeing, as well as the town to town stop lights and traffic you will encounter on 66. Also when traveling with children try not to exceed 10 hours a day on the road, keep it to 8 if you can.
Next, look into all the sites you want to see and places you want to stay. This is really fun, but it can also be a real eye opener as you find out how much it cost to see this, or stay there. Most of these places have websites, and also reviews scattered about online.
 Also don’t forget to look into restaurants you want to eat at as well, so you can get an idea as to how much it may cost you and your family to eat at someplace like The Big Texan, or The Turquois Room.
Now, its time to drop all these numbers into your dream trip spread sheet.
Step 8 – Whats for dinner, and What did you bring me on your trip?
Food and souvenirs can go overlooked. So make sure you plan for both since they are uber important.
Eating out a family of four can cost on average about $30 for breakfast (with tip), $40 for lunch (with tip), and maybe as much as $50 for dinner. Taking advantage of those continental breakfasts at hotels, can save you $30 a day at least, and eating a late big lunch can save you a little on dinner since you won’t feel as hungry.
Tip: Many restaurants offer lower lunch time pricing for their dinner items. On the road this works out well since travel will leave you hungry at lunch time, and tired and not so hungry in the evening especially if you have been site seeing and traveling in the heat all day.

As many unique and wonderful little places there are to eat along the route, you might also find it beneficial to pack a lunch too, so you can enjoy a few unique places a little longer. The Blue Whale of Catoosa for instance has a small picnic area on site, which may make for pleasant stop. Don’t  worry grocery’s store are abundant along the way in the form of everything from general stores, to small town supermarkets, to big chain supermarkets like my favorite Safeway just a little up the street from the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ. So finding packed lunch tidbits, drinks, and healthy snacks is a fairly easy task.
As far as souvenirs this is one of those little extra costs that can knock you for a loop, and upset your budget quick. I’d love to give you an estimate as to how much is a good rate per day, but I can’t. All I can tell you is when picking up souvenir’s kids can often be distracted by the silliest things, and a dollar store plastic dinosaur, can become a $10 mistake at some gift shop. When traveling with my kids I have always tried to guide them towards objects that both have some indication of the sites name on them, and are objects that they can display for years. Besides the kids, we as adults sometimes make impulse buys too, or just buy the wrong thing all together. Before you leave on your trip you and your family members should decide on what kind of items you as a family and/or individuals would like to collect along the way, smooshedpenny’s, shot glasses, T-shirts, Coffee mugs….and so on. This will help everyone stick to one thing along the way, and keep your car from pilling up with objects that will be forgotten after the trip is over.
For souvenirs a budget of $500 is a safe amount, barring no amusement parks in in the plans. Also to keep the kids happy and not looking and begging for useless souvenir’s,it helps to stop every so often at a Toy’s R Us, or somewhere else toys are sold and buy your kids a few small toys along the way This can keep the urge to buy junk at gift shops at bay, and treat your kids for good behavior when traveling, especially if it’s a surprise. 
Step 9 – Pulling it Together
You should have the basics of your budget together, Gas mileage, hotel costs, entry fees, food costs, and souvenirs, and don’t’ forget the throw a little in for the unknown too.  Now, it’s time to start entering it into your Excel sheet (or whatever format you’re comfortable with).
……..Let me guess using your dream trip it’s pretty high?
That happened to me too I think I got a cost of about $11,000+ for my dream trip down Route 66.
This is the time when you move and copy (instructions above)  the dream trip tab and start cutting stuff out. At first you’re going to know what items are pure daydream and those are easy to cut out, but it gets a little harder after that. This is going to require some soul searching and discussion with your family.
This is where I’m going to leave you for this part, since what’s left is up to you. In the next part we’ll cover those final steps you need to take before hitting the road. 


  1. These are great tips. It would be tough to pick and choose. I'm so thankful my kids are all grown up. They can pay for their own food and souvenirs! Funny, I thought my husband and I were the only people on earth who used Excel to plan our vacations! There's no other way to do it though, right?

  2. For me it's a staple, I don't want to miss a thing and it gives me the ability to see everything and budget stuff out. Don't think I could do a trip without it now days.