We are off to a weekend road trip at the end of September! (It’s the beginning of August as I am publishing this, but I am preparing and excited!) We’re going to go see the Twenty-One Pilots concert in Denver, Colorado. We’re 15-16 hours away from Denver via driving. So here is another travel post about pre-road trip, list of packing essentials and budget overview for the weekend road trip. Can’t wait to update you on how close we stuck to our “reasonable budget”.
Disclosure- Kyler got COVID in the beginning of September 2021, so we were unable to go to the concert. Therefore I was unable to update readers about our adventure in Denver.
Weekend Road Trip Essentials
The operative word for this pre-trip blog post is that it is narrowed down to 1 weekend- three or four days. As opposed to something that is 1-2 weeks, this makes things pretty flexible. It is a really fast trip, mostly on the road but that doesn’t mean you have to go without preparation.
Weekend Road Trip Planning Checklist
- Packed Bag for the Trip
- Packed Bag for the Car
- Water Bottle
- A Reasonable Budget
Montana is basically a small town separated by long highways- our navigation is fairly easy until until we finish the last 4-6 hours of our drive. We’re using Google Maps but we might also print the directions out for if/when we lose service.
I have an Alaska Airlines credit card so that I can earn miles with my purchases. After looking into “random flights” to see how far miles get you when you actually fly versus book hotel rooms, I have decided that redeeming miles for hotel stays gives you the most use of your miles. We will be staying in 3 hotels during the course of this trip, 1 in Denver, 1 in Casper, WY and 1 on the way back either in Casper or Bozeman, MT. We already bought reservations for 2 of the 3, those are $85 total for 2 hotel rooms plus ~ 25,000 miles.
A Reasonable Budget
Every good budget starts with an estimate of your costs. Saying you’re only going to spend “$300” on the trip means basically nothing if you do not know how much things actually cost. How much for food, concert tickets, gas and snacks on the road, hotel stays? How much for a weekend road trip?
- Hotel: $85-120
- Concert Tickets: $200 (for me and Kyler and “nonnegotiable”)
- Gas: have yet to determine that math. I want to say it’ll be about $150-200 for our share ….
- Food: $250
- Souvenirs: t-shirts! We have yet to decide that budget… 2 t-shirts will probably be $70-80
Total Estimated Budget- $700-800 for 4 days or, $500-600 + tickets
How I Set My Reasonable Budget
There are 2 costs that are the most flexible: hotel and food. Gas fluctuates, concert tickets are already paid for, and we haven’t decided on how much we want to spend on souvenirs…We also use a different credit card to earn cash back on food and gas. Every little bit adds up…
It was pretty easy to work out the budget for our hotel stays given that we have decided to use our Alaska Airlines credit card miles for only hotel stays. I have come to the conclusion that miles go significantly farther if we use them on hotel stays rather than trips. We had almost 54,000 miles on my balance, and Alaska Airlines was telling me that I had the opportunity to take a 1 way ticket to Hawaii! Tempting, but then I would be without Kyler and without a way back 😉 However, with my recent hotel purchases, I was able to spend less than 25,000 miles on 2 hotel stays plus $85.
I start my food budgeting for all travels with counting out how many days spent on the trip, how many meals will we need to pay for, how many snacks can we pack, how much we will happen to buy on our way to our destination; and if we’re lucky, how much will a grocery store run cost? Assuming I drink my Premier Protein shakes and we take advantage of the free breakfast options at the hotels, we mostly need snacks, lunches and dinners.
It is the 2 of us, so compared to most blog articles that I’ve read, our food cost is doubled theirs…. I am more flexible about the budget for dinners, therefore, I assume $50-60 for the bill (food + tax + tips) so that we are not caught off guard. We likely won’t spend that amount, but it is better to be prepared. Lunches are easy to stick to a budget since you can just get a sandwich, soup, salad or early dinner. My budget is $250 for food.
Packed Bags for the Weekend Road Trip
My Packing List
We are driving all Friday and Sunday, and a little bit on Saturday and Monday (4 days). That means cozy car outfits, and a cute day outfit for Saturday. And a few “extras” to anticipate autumn weather. For a weekend road trip, I need 2 Car Outfits, yoga pants or yoga leggings, an incredibly comfy yet chic top, and easy shoes. Saturday is for a little bit of hanging out and exploring, driving and the concert. That means a versatile outfit to avoid packing too much.
- Light sweater that fits in small brown purse
- Sandals or TOMS slip-ons (car)
- Closed toe shoes
- 3 pairs Socks
- 3 pairs of underwear
- 1-2 bras
- 3 tops
- Yoga pants or leggings. For a road trip, think: ultra-comfort!
- Jeans- September/near October weather is High 70-80 and Low 37-50 degrees in Denver.
- Light scarf- a cute accessory + provides a little warmth if I need it
- Body wash
- Cleanser products- all my cleanser items. Traveling makes me breakout and I need my entire skincare routine! Anyone else break out when they travel?
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Hairdryer and flat iron
Packed Bag for the Car
Every good road trip needs a packed bag for the adventure, and a bag for the car which will include snacks, drinks and entertainment! I’m going to use my gray Lug bag for the car ride. It is sturdy, has oodles of pockets and is easy to store things that need cooler sections. Might even toss my camera into that bag in case I want to take photos with my good camera!
- Travel Wallet- I take out the few cards I need for any trip (2 credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance card) and put it in a smaller wallet. Fits best in my little purse, weighs almost nothing, makes it easily portable and allows for me to stick other items in my bag without it getting heavy.
- Snacks- I always have to eat. Snacks are also on every road trip essentials packing list! Packing Lara bars, Premier Protein shakes, etc. I will also be packing a little bit of my own food and coffee just because it helps offset the budget.
- Water Bottle
- Entertainment- We’re driving with Kyler’s brothers, that means I need noise cancelling headphones, charged electronics and a good book.
- All Chargers
- Phone and iPad
- Laptop? Might need to work a little and the iPad doesn’t cut it.
- Small purse- a tote/backpack and duffel bag are fine for the traveling part, but I don’t want my backpack while exploring, at the gas stations or while at the concert.
- Blanket and Pillow for the car- I will not be driving so why not make myself super cozy?
Final Thoughts on Weekend Road Trip Essentials
In summation, pack versatile outfits for a weekend adventure, prepare your food budget by anticipating the costs of your destination, ride with friends to offset the cost of gas, and take advantage of travel credit cards to maximize your budget! I hope this blog post helps you in preparing for your Weekend Road Trip! I can’t wait to share my experience with you when we get back from Denver.