We’re halfway through our big road trip up the East Coast, beginning with Georgia and ending in Maine. We’ve gotten to see some pretty awesome stuff along the way so far, and I’m updating my Instagram as we go if you’re interested in seeing some of the places we’re visiting. With each stop, we’ve said we would love to have just another day or two to explore the area, which is a mark of a good trip in my opinion.

We got to visit Beaufort, South Carolina for the first time since we moved away, and it will always hold a special place on our hearts since that’s where we began our marriage. I’m hoping we won’t let another eight years go by before we’re back again, because I’ve missed the low country.

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. We had a direct flight from Seattle to Georgia, so we only flew for five hours for the full day and didn’t need to bring a ton of food with us, but we did pack some peanut butter jelly sandwiches, goldfish, Luna bars, and a few other snacks in order to avoid buying breakfast and lunch in the airport and on the plane.

SeaTac actually has some pretty decent options, but they aren’t cheap, and while Alaska Airlines has some of the better airline food, you still have to pay for it. By bringing enough to cover us for both meals, we saved a decent amount of money rather than buying it there. While we do still spend more on groceries than the average personal finance blogger, we’re much more mindful now and I’d rather keep that spending to awesome local restaurants along the way.

Plane travel is fun with lots of activities

2. Our first night of the trip was spent in a hotel in Atlanta, booked with credit card rewards points courtesy of my mother in law. I haven’t yet redeemed any of our credit card rewards for hotel points as we most often choose to stay in Airbnbs, but this experience made me reconsider this option. Especially on this long trip where we are driving to a new area every day or two, it was nice to have a hotel check out where all we had to do was grab our stuff and leave.

The hotel also had a free continental breakfast with waffles, oatmeal, eggs, and a whole bunch of other food options, plus some pretty decent coffee. Again, a perk that doesn’t come with a home rental, and it meant we could get on the road that much faster to head on to the Georgia Aquarium. Military Dollar just wrote about her newest credit card sign up for Marriott Rewards, and I’m considering that card for our next travel hacking option. We don’t ever fly Southwest, so I’ve decided to skip those Chase cards, but the Marriott one seems like a good option.

3. We paid in advance for our trip to the Georgia Aquarium which saved us 20% of the ticket price. We had to go before 10am, which was what we wanted to do anyway because we had a four hour drive to South Carolina that afternoon. The aquarium was totally awesome, and our son is still talking about the whale sharks and manta rays he got to see in the big tank.

Whale sharks and manta rays

4. Next, we stayed with friends in South Carolina for a couple of nights, so our first three nights of the trip were completely free, and we got to spend more time with them than if we had rented a place separately. They cooked us a barbecue meal at the house the first night, and we cooked ourselves a simple breakfast of pancakes and sausages the next morning.

Our friends were gracious and wonderful and it was so great to get to stay with them and spend some time in the town that we used to live in. We got to show our family around our old haunts and even got to go by the apartment we first lived in together.

Live Oaks dripping with Spanish Moss – I’ve missed this view

5. Our roommate is back at home watching our animals. Part of the deal we have with him for renting from us for such a cheap rate is that he watches our pets when we go out of town. It means that they don’t have to be disrupted from their routine and can stay in their normal home even when we are gone, which for our anxious dogs is a big deal. And we don’t have to pay anywhere from $10-$60/day per dog to have them boarded somewhere, which would be an obscene amount of money for a two week trip.

On the running front, I’ve been on four runs so far on this trip, which is quite a bit better than I would do at home during a normal week, though my longest run has been 45 minutes instead of an hour. And I’ve gotten to run in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, which marks off three states I’d never run in before.

Do you keep track of states you’ve visited in any kind of special way? Do you dream of hitting all 50 some day? I sure do.

35 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (Road Trip Edition)

    1. It’s so beautiful. It was so good to be back. The Low Country is unlike anywhere else in the country.

    1. I used to run that much pre kid – it’s what I prefer to do 🙂 And the companion pass is great, but they don’t run THAT much out of Seattle.

      1. One of the best parts of vacation is more time to run! 😉

  1. i’m glad you’re finding time to run. that’s a tremendous benefit to not have to board your dogs. ours isn’t the greatest house guest so it costs us quite a bit to put him up. i had a 5 day running week if you include the one i haven’t done yet today. gotta go look at the ‘gram now. stay safe.

    1. Yeah, it’s a HUGE benefit for us to have a roommate for that reason. Hoping to find a fifth day to run this week as well, we shall see!

  2. I do keep track of the states I’ve visited and I have one more to see….Alaska! We also have tracking lists for each of our kids. Probably time to update those. Have a wonderful time as you journey up the east coast.
    I ❤️ family road trips!

  3. I’m jealous of all that running time. I’m off next week so hoping to get in a few runs myself. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    1. Sooo much easier to get more exercise when you’re away from the desk!

  4. We’ve wanted to do a cross country field trip for a while but we’re definitely not ready to. Where did you find that smaller puzzle in a tray? I was looking for one like that, no larger than a standard page size, for our vacation travel time and couldn’t find any smaller than a 14 by 16 size.

    I prefer a hotel for the same reasons – built in breakfasts, I’m not expected to tidy before I leave, I don’t have to deal with NEIGHBORS (sideeyeing nosy neighbor calling cops on renters), relative anonymity so we can be about our business and go.

    Your arrangement with your renter is fantastic. That’d be worth $1000 a year for us.

    How are you fitting in the runs? I’m trying to figure out how to make more runs happen for PiC other than me getting up super early with JB because he’s always up with zir every morning.

    1. Hmmm I will have to ask my mom about the puzzle because it came from her. It’s a PERFECT size for travel though.

      I’ve gotten the little guy to accept hanging in the stroller for runs a bit more, and sometimes I’ll just jog around a playground while he plays. Not a super exciting run, but it happens. That, and yeah, getting up early.

  5. Woohoo for doing the trip as cheaply as possible but still having an amazing time! And yeah not having to board your pups is a fantastic perk of having a roommate! Ahem, yes, I have most definitely noticed how you’re getting in more running this week than usual 😉 No more whale sharks or manta rays (or manatees 😂) but I’m glad my BFF got to see horses two days in a row!

    1. And most recently he was looking in a mammals field guide and there was information on manatees 😅

      1. Oh nooooo you’ve created a monster! 😂 You’ll just have to go to Florida sometime so he can see them and then swing up to DC… 😉

      2. I REALLY want to see them too, so I can’t blame him. And Florida to DC isn’t that close hahaha.

  6. Looks like you’ve all been having a great time. Spending out on the Aquarium visit was a worthwhile choice for the enjoyment it gave your son, especially as he has been talking about it since. Deciding when to splurge can be one of the toughest challenges!

    1. Oh he LOVED the aquarium so much. We don’t spend a lot on “entertainment,” but some things are definitely worth it!

    1. They actually have FOUR whale sharks. But the tank is absolutely enormous.

    1. We’ll just have to make a separate DC trip because it deserves a week by itself.

  7. I love road trips, and I love hearing about others trips – sounds like you are covering a fair amount of ground there.

    And running in new places is awesome, I love getting to run in new place and explore different terrains and scenery.

    Your roommate sounds ace, you have nearly tempted me to consider looking for one again……..a free cat sitter would be ace.

    1. He’s lives with us for almost six years now. I doubt we’ll roll the dice with another roommate once he finally moves out some day. But paying for pet sitting will be painful.

  8. We lived in Maine for a while and LOVED it there. If you need any sightseeing recommendations, let me know 🙂

    1. We picked up a friend in Kittery and have a local to show us around this week 🙂

  9. I have an app called “Countries Been” that let’s me shade in countries and US states that I have been to. There are different colors so I can make the ones that I have been to alone separate from the ones that DGal and I have been to. For states I’ve got 7 more to go.

    I got the Marriott card last year as my first foray into the credit card hacking game. I haven’t used any of the points yet, but they also transfer to Starwood, which a lot of people love.


    1. Oh fun! I may need to download that app. And I could color in differently for the ones I’ve run in 🙂

  10. Doggy daycare is really pricey so having your roommate to take care of them is a very frugal. Last Xmas we couldn’t find a sitter 1 week before Xmas (holidays…even if we had money there wasn’t anything open) so we got a car and took a roadtrip down Highway 101 with a dog that was mortified why she wasn’t at home and superrr afraid of everything.

    Why did you choose Georgia as a starting place?

    1. We used to live in South Carolina, just an hour over the border from Georgia. So we wanted to go back for a visit, plus the Georgia Aquarium is just awesome.

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