Spring Break on a Budget

The Peanut – packed & ready to roll!

It is Spring Break here in our little community but for us, Spring Break sprang a few weeks earlier. Before all of the college kids and families started hitting the highways and beaches, we set off to break in “The Peanut” on its first official road trip. Destination – Florida (or home as I still like to call it).

Spring Break = Spring Broke for a lot of people but not for us…thanks in large part to gift cards, cashback rewards, and discounts. For our 7 night/8 day trip that included stops in Savannah, GA, Daytona Beach, FL, and Fort Myers, FL, we spent an out-of-pocket total of $745.29. Of that, $136.50 was spent on gas, $414.74 on lodging, and $123.29 on food.

Day 1: After a full day of driving, we made a planned overnight stop in Savannah, GA, where we stayed in a KOA Kamping Kabin ($59.85) with a great view of the lake. The next day we visited Oatland Wildlife Center ($5/pp) before driving down to Daytona Beach. This was our second visit to Oatland and we highly recommend it as one of the best wildlife rehabilitation parks in the Southeast. Note: If you do visit Oatland, bring bug spray! I’m still recovering from a battle with no-see-ums.

Sunrise view from our cabin

Day 2-3: Daytona Beach was one of those places we never made it around to visiting when we lived in Florida. Now I know why. Aside from drinking (which we don’t do) and driving the strip, there’s not much to do in Daytona. The beach is nice but it was very windy while we were there so we spent most of our time letterboxing. We stayed at the Lexington Inn, a decent hotel with a hot breakfast and terrible wifi reception, located on the beach in Daytona Beach Shores. ($121.89 for 2 nights with a $20 discount through Hotwire)

Letterboxing in Daytona

Day 4-6: Despite our horrible experience with AirBnB in Baltimore last fall, we decided to take their $50 apology gift card and give them another try. This time we rented an upstairs apartment in Fort Myers. I’m not sure AirBnB is fully redeemed in our eyes but the rental turned out to be better than expected. The furnishings were brand new and clean. My only complaint was that the hostess was less than friendly. Okay, maybe that wasn’t my only complaint – the leaning staircase was a little scary and so was the palmetto bug on the counter. ($190 for 3 nights with a $50 gift card)

We spent very little time in the AirBnB though. We were out adventuring in our old home place. We stopped in to see our favorite owl, Luna, at the Peace River Wildlife Center ($5/pp), took in a Tampa Bay Ray’s Spring Training game ($38 for tickets, $11.50 for snacks), and spent a lot of time on the beach. We also managed to make two trips to our favorite produce store – Detwiler’s Farm Market – where we stocked up on dried fruits, melons, and the most out-of-this-world fresh salsa that money can buy.

Day 7: The last night of our trip was probably the most eventful. We arrived at the Forsyth, GA KOA just a little after 8 PM and checked into our Kamping Kabin for a very Hotel California-esque experience. (You can check out any time you like but you can never leave…) After unrolling our sleeping bags, Angie reached for the door handle to go back out to the car. It wouldn’t budge! The deadbolt had gotten jammed in the lock position and we were stuck inside our tiny camping shed, after office hours, with no way to reach a single camp staff member. A faded note on the wall read: “In case of emergency after 8 PM, please call 911”. So that’s what we did…after 20 minutes of fiddling with the door, of course. Three fire and rescue squad members came with a pry-bar. They released the pressure on the lock so we were able to turn it and get out. Yes, we stayed the night and yes, we slept with the door unlocked. I figured, we were in a campground where people slept in tents so the lock wasn’t that much of a necessity anyway. This delightful experience was bargain priced at only $44.10.

We were supposed to stop by World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta on our way home. We had two free tickets. After our lock-in, we decided that the only stop we wanted to make that next day was home. (If you live in Atlanta and plan on going to World of Coca-Cola before 3/31/17, let me know and I’ll happily email you the tickets.)

For our trip, we had a $25 Walmart gift card, which we used for snacks and breakfast groceries; a $25 Panera gift card, which covered lunch one day and coffee another; a $50 AirBnB gift card, a $20 Hotwire coupon, and $67.54 in Capital One cashback rewards, which was applied toward paying for gas.

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