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Written By Colin Graves

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Hey all!  I hope you’re having a wonderful summer!  We’re on the road for the next couple of weeks, an epic road trip that will take us over four thousand miles across five states and two, potentially three Canadian provinces. For you, my readers, I’ll be blogging along the way, detailing different aspects of our journey.  If you haven’t taken a family road trip vacation before and it’s something you’d love to do, you’ll want to follow along.  Over the course of my regular updates, I’ll share some great advice on how to not only pull off an effortless journey with kids, but how to do it on a budget.

That’s right.  A super frugal summer vacation!

How frugal, you ask?

Last summer, our family of five pulled off a 16-day vacation for under $650!  This year, I predict we’ll get pretty close to that number once again.

frugal road tripSince our kids were born, our family has taken close to 20 extended road trips, so we’ve definitely figured out what works and what doesn’t.  Without further ado, I present to you Part 1 of our 2017 road trip series!


As I’m writing this, the the Mystery Money family is rolling across America!  We left home a couple evenings ago to embark on our perennial summer adventure, an epic sixteen (or so) day road trip that we’ve been making for the better part of fifteen years.  These trips are the source of countless memories for my wife and I, and our three kids.  It’s such a great feeling to be on the road.


The days leading up to any family vacation are very busy, but they also bring a sense of anticipation as everyone goes about making their necessary preparations.

A few days before we left, I put a fresh set of tires on the van, and had the pre-trip inspection/oil change completed.  I also booked hotels for our first couple of nights on the road.  I will make a plug for booking.com here, because once again, I scored an AMAZING hotel deal.  Among the unending list of items she looks after, Mrs. MMM got things organized for our friend who will be house/dog-sitting while we’re away.

As for the kids, they were busy picking out their travel wardrobe, choosing in-car entertainment options, and making suggestions for activities while we’re away.  Sensing their excitement makes all the work  that much easier.


frugal road tripThis road trip is significant for a couple of reasons.  First of all, we have an additional driver.  Our son got his license about six months ago, and is sharing the miles behind the wheel. On what will easily be a four thousand mile journey, it makes a real difference.  He put in a couple hundred of those when we left the other night.  This is also our first vacation since I launched Mystery Money Man (I don’t count my recent travel experiment).  I’m looking forward to having time to write, to just be creative.  There’s something about the changing scenery and the vast expanses of free time that I find incredibly inspiring.


I’m not going to be too ambitious over the next couple of weeks. My priority is to have large blocks of family time more than anything.  As I mentioned above, I’ve committed to writing a number of road trip related posts.

My goal is to do some writing every day.  The sessions won’t always be lengthy, some days may only be twenty or thirty minutes, but I will be have a daily writing routine.


frugal road tripAs I mentioned earlier, one of my more popular blog posts from the past year detailed last summer’s road trip, and explained how our family pulled off a 16 day vacation while spending less than $650.  It was a single post that I wrote a couple months after the trip, upon launching my blog.

I’ll build on that post this year, in real time, and include lots of family road trip advice, including ways to save lots of $$$ along the way.

What you WON’T get is a diary of everything we’re doing as that would just be boring. This isn’t Facebook after all. : )


If any of this interests you, here are a few ways you can follow along:

  1. Make sure to check in here every few days.  You can also join the Mystery Money community by subscribing to our email list, and you’ll be the first one to receive posts when they are sent out.  Don’t worry, you’ll never receive spam of any kind, I promise!
  2. Follow me on Instagram!  I’ll be posting photos of our trip, and would love to see you there.  Warning:  I do post a lot of campfire photos. : )
  3. Connect with me on Twitter.  If you haven’t already, join my over 3000 followers.  If you send me a message and I’ll follow you back!

That’s it for now, stay tuned for Mystery Money Frugal Road Trip Part 2! 

If you’re planning a trip, you’ve got to check out Booking.com!  I use them for all of my hotel reservations, and am always impressed by how easy it is to get the information I need on different properties, and lock in a great deal!  Feel free to use my exclusive link to book your next stay.  

I do have an affiliate relationship with Booking.com.  This means I receive a small commission (at no cost to you) when you use my link to book your next hotel stay.  Please note that I only promote products that I myself use, and have confidence in. 

10 thoughts on “OUR SUPER FRUGAL ROAD TRIP – PART 1”

  1. Woohoo! I’m excited to see where your travels take you! I wish I could do road trips, but as a queasy motionsick person, I’m stuck to plane travel for the most part. Can’t wait to see your adventures!

  2. You know how I feel about road trips, so you know I’m excited to follow along! We’re just a few days away from kicking off ours as well – maybe we’ll see you on the highway – haha 🙂


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