Okay…this is our last look at our Florida trip…kind of like our road trip by the numbers. You may find some of this interesting, but honestly we are doing this as much for us, as you, so that we remember some of this information when we next venture out on the open road.
The one way distance from our home on Long Island to Walt Disney World is 1,126 miles. During our 11 days on the road we drove a total of 2439 miles, so did a little less than 200 additional miles during our trip. Some of those miles were spent driving to and from restaurants on our way up and down, and some were used in Walt Disney World. We drove to Epcot, the Magic Kingdom (2 days), and our spring training game at ESPN World. Yes, we know that WDW has a great transportation system, but a number of years ago we waited forever with tired kids for a bus at one of the water parks, and frankly, it’s just easier to do it on our own. Also, since one of Frank’s retirement perks is free parking, all we waste is time!
Days to Florida:
“Lets Drive RightThrough!” Ah, no, thank you! Yes, you can indeed get to Florida in less than 24 hours by driving straight through, but this was supposed to be a fun trip, so we left on day one, and arrived on day three. We did the same thing on the way back. Our daily mileage averaged around 400 more or less. We didn’t set alarm clocks, we left when we left (usually sometime around 9AM), but always tried to stop between 4:30 and 5:30. A long time ago, when Susie was pregnant with our oldest Billy, we drove to the midwest, and her doctor told her to stop every hour or so and get out of the car and walk around. Since then, that has been our MO on the road. One of us will drive an hour and/or 100 miles, we will stop, hit the bathroom, and then the other will take over.
Gas prices have really dropped lately, and that makes a road trip even more affordable. As we said in an earlier post, the Sonata got great mileage (we regularly saw numbers in the low to mid 30 miles per gallon), so we stopped for gas about once a day. The lowest price we saw was on the New Jersey Turnpike on the way down, where it was $1.57 a gallon for regular. As soon as we crossed the bridge and entered Delaware, gas prices jumped 30 cents or more a gallon. The next cheapest state was Georgia, where it was in the $1.80 range. Around Disney World the prices were high (of course), but Frank just read on the internet of gas stations close to the Orlando Airport that change $5 and change a gallon to screw those folks looking to return their rental car full! Even with Frank’s Cleaning product purchase, we didn’t come close to that!! We only spent $146.98 for the total trip for gas, and we just drove down to Ocean City on that last tank we got on the New Jersey Turnpike on the way home!
So, its been a number of years since we’ve taken a trip like this, and frankly, before we left, how much nightly accommodations were going to cost us was something we had no idea about. There are also a lot of new chains out there. Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, etc., so the landscape has changed since the last time we did this. One great new tool is to join hotel’s chains “frequent flyers” programs, and then load their app on your phone. Many different named chains operate under the same corporate flag, so having a couple of these apps on your phone really gives you a lot of choices. We spent 4 nights on the road, and our hotel costs ran from a low of $69.49, to a high of $94.75 . A lesson we quickly learned, however, was that the extra $20 we spent on our more expensive nights made a huge difference. Save the $20, get old 1970s motel type accommodations. Spend the $20 and get nice, clean, modern rooms, and even a full free breakfast. Our opinion, save $20 somewhere else and enjoy the night…your next day depends on it! We spent a total of $329.13 for our on-the-road accommodations. Even with Frank’s 50% Disney Discount, our 5 days in WDW cost us $753.75….but we loved it!! Our total was $1082.88 for the entire 11 days.
We’ve already talked about what we did for our lunches, and truly think that having the cooler and food in the car with us, is by far the best solution for lunches on a road trip. It saves you money, it saves you time, and keeps the journey focused on moving forward. Occasionally, we’d take advantage of the hotel’s breakfast offerings, but most days we opted to just hit the road and start driving. We did in an Applebees and a Dave’s Famous BBQ, but the two best meals we had on the road were in local, non-chain restaurants. On our way down, in Darien Georgia, we had a wonderful fried shrimp dinner (a pound of shrimp each) for $73.49 at B&J’s Steak and Seafood (thanks Abe Gorin for the tip!). Then on the way back up, in Ridgeland, South Carolina, we had an incredible southern meal at Jasper’s Back Porch. We sat on the back porch, overlooking a lake, and had a soup to nuts meal for $85.78. We had a couple of very nice, and pricey dinners in Disney World (like Wolfgang Pucks at Disney Springs that cost us $205 including Frank’s discount), but our on-the-road meals ran between $60 and $85.
Wolfgang Puck’s at Disney Springs
Walt Disney World:
Okay, so Frank gets a discount on hotels, food, and merchandise thanks to his Disney Retiree status, but even with that, it is not a cheap place. Every night, we ended our day at our resort’s Jazz Club (the Scat Cat’s Club), and spent around $100 for drinks and appetizers (the appetizers was our dinner several nights!), but we loved ending the day this way, and after a couple of days, became “regulars” to Laura the waitress. Breakfasts were about $20-$25 per day, but we figured if we were going to walk our asses off, we needed some sustenance! These 5 days were really our only breakfast expenses. Lunches, drinks (at Epcot’s World Showcase) cost us too, as did purchases we made (sweatshirts, little things for the Grandkids, etc), but that was the price of admission if you will. Not something we’re gonna do every day or every year. We figure we spent around $390 for Misc items, and those ran from a car wash for the Sonata to laundry we did at the WDW resort.
Keeping Track of it All:
We are only able to report most of these figures, because of a great app Susie has on her phone, called Trip Wallet. It was a very easy way to keep track of the $$$ we spent on everything from gas, to hotels, to food. It cost around $1.99 at the Apple Store, and will get a lot more use going forward. Much better than a pad and a pen, and as it was on her phone, she always had it with her.
What it Cost us to Drive Round Trip to Florida:
Our gas for the trip cost $146.98, our 4 hotel nights on the road cost $329.13, and for 4 road night dinners we spent $296.10. Lunches we had in the car, made up from stuff we brought from home, so maybe $30. The only other expense related to driving our own car, was $9 we spent for a car wash on the way home because the car was covered with Florida tree pollen. So, our grand total was $811.21. We went up on the Jet Blue site, and we’re sure you could get a round trip flight cheaper, but just doing a dummy booking from JFK to Orlando for 2 people for 7 days in Florida came out to about $895. We did the same thing at the Hertz site, and their cheapest car for week came to about $307. As we said, you could probably get both cheaper, but that’s probably in the neighborhood of what we would have spent, so flying and renting would come to about $1200. We spent almost $400 less than that, and had a great road trip on top of some savings. A win/win situation we think!
So that’s it, our last look at our 11 days on the road that included 5 days at Walt Disney World, two Spring Training Mets’ games, and a visit with Frank’s cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt in Bare Foot Bay, Florida. See you on the road again, or on our next adventure real soon!