How We Handled Emergency Travel Expenses

by Khaleef "Fat Guy" Crumbley on August 2, 2011

in Exercise, Frugal

Post image for How We Handled Emergency Travel Expenses

Recently, my grandmother passed away, and my wife and I had to travel out of town to attend the funeral.  What this meant for us is taking a 630 mile trip that would take 10 – 12 hours (my 13 year old niece went down with us, so we expected a few stops)!

There were many things that we had to rearrange, since we were packing and other things in anticipation of our move. However, it wasn’t too difficult to reschedule deliveries and cancel the moving truck. The real problem was trying to determine how much this unexpected trip would cost us, and how we would pay for it!

As you will find out tomorrow in my post on Not Made of Money – a great website that gives money saving tips (be sure to read that post tomorrow), for which I am a staff writer – we didn’t have to tap into our emergency fund, because we try to keep a $500 cushion in our checking account.

Here’s What We Spent:


Since there was a total of 8 people driving down (not including anyone else traveling from another state), we knew that we would have to stay in a hotel. To be honest, since it was over 100 degrees here in New Jersey, I figured it would be hotter down south and I was leaning toward a hotel room anyway!

My cousin actually works for a hotel, and we were able to get a huge discount (I think it was around 75% or so) on the rates! We ended up paying about $70/night for a full suite that costs close to $300/night regularly. It was a great room, and between the plentiful continental breakfast, the comfortable bed, friendly staff, and blasting a/c, I think we will stay there the next time we go visit family.


We actually had two separate food bills to worry about during our 5-day trip.

Meals During Our Stay

While we were there, we tried our best to avoid eating out. I think we did pretty well considering the circumstances. After our 12-hour ride we went to my aunt’s house and talked with family for about 4 hours. We were all tired and extremely hot, so we knew that we wouldn’t feel up to preparing anything, so we just went to Wendy’s and then to the hotel.

Before going to Wendy’s, we decided to take a trip to Wal-Mart and buy some groceries. Since we were only staying for a few days, we tried to avoid going overboard (something which we are both known to do). I am proud to say that we didn’t throw anything away, and we didn’t need to take anything back either!

We didn’t buy enough groceries for the entire trip, but we were able to supplement our stash by eating with family, and the continental breakfasts at the hotel!

So overall, we only ate out once and we bought about $20 worth of food at Wal-Mart in order to save a ton of money!

Eating On The Run

We also had to worry about snacks and a meal during the drive down and back. For the trip down, we packed a few protein bars in our book bag (Would calling it a backpack make us sound more like adults?). I don’t remember buying any food on the way down there – just water – but I’m sure my wife will read this and correct me if I forgot anything.

On the way back, we did stop and buy chicken (something I NEVER buy, but I wanted something different) on the road.


The plan was to split the costs by having a different person fill up the tank at each stop (we took 2 vehicles), but my uncle would not let me pay, so we didn’t have any fuel or toll costs on this trip!

Total Expenses

We ended up spending less than $300 for the entire trip; which isn’t that bad. If we decided to stay with a relative (we did receive a last minute offer once we got down there – after we booked the hotel), then our costs would have been less than $50!


Since I haven’t been able to workout in over a month, since we dismantled our living room in preparation for the move (even throwing out our TV), I was eager to do something during this trip. I woke up each morning and did my alternate workout plan – which consists of pushups, crunches, jumping jacks, and a few lunges.

It felt great being able to get a little bit of exercise in each day!

photo by Dan

© 2011, All rights reserved.

Jackie August 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Way to save money on eating out during the trip. That would be a miracle for me to buy just exactly the right amount like that.

The $60K Project August 3, 2011 at 12:37 am

Getting a hotel hookup is so key when traveling. We are able to use the Marriott Associate rate which saves us about 75% as well. Bringing a cooler full of food and water bottles also helped keep our food costs down during the drive.

Ashley @ Money Talks August 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

Great job. $300 including a nice hotel room is amazing!

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter August 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

I think you did awesome for $300. We tend to use hostels when we travel and we find them a great money saver. We also shop at the grocery store for food.

Geoff August 7, 2011 at 11:49 am

Khaleef, sorry to hear about your loss. One more tip, if you ever have to fly instead of drive for a funeral, i’ve heard that by calling the airlines you can get a 10-15% bereavement rate.

Kyle @ The Penny Hoarder August 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

Nice job on the low-cost meals! I’m a well known snacker in the car, so I always try to pack a cooler before we leave so I’m not tempted to buy anything at the gas station stops. Saves me money and I’m sure it’s saving me from a future heart attack by not eating the crap. 🙂

Little House August 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm

That’s awesome that you spent much less on your trip than expected. It’s great to have family members working in hospitality – I love discounts myself. Packing snacks is also the way to go with car trips -fast food gets tedious after a while.

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