$212 a Day
Again, as much for our records as anything else:
We've budgeted $50,000 for the next 32 weeks (starting April 14th) of our road trip. We know it will be cheaper for us to live in an apartment in Portland than it is to stay at various hotels while traveling, and we've already carved out $5,000 of our savings for the last five weeks of the year. We want to have a proper home for the holidays, so our road trip will end no later than November (probably mid-October, to allow us time to find a place and move in before Thanksgiving).
So that gives us approximately $1,560 per week to spend on the road. Let's call it $1,500 to make estimating easier; we'll shoot for that, and still have a $2,000 cushion for all the more expensive places.
Two-thirds of that weekly budget will go to lodging. Room rates will vary depending on what part of the country we're in and where we're staying--for example, we know these first few weeks in California and at the Grand Canyon will be pricey, but we'll make it up later. $1,000 divided by 7 days is approximately $142 a night, but including the typical 10% room tax, our target price for lodging is $129 a night.
That leaves $500 every 7 days, or about $70 each day, for food, fun, and gas: the three other major categories of things we'll be spending money on. We plan to track our spending on a weekly basis (using Google Spreadsheets, natch) so we can see if we're over budget and adjust accordingly. Fun will probably be the most flexible. There's nothing wrong with having a lazy day indoors with the cats, playing games and watching movies or TV.
Note that this budget only accounts for credit card purchases--we'll pull petty cash as we need it for incidentals, which may include parking or laundry or tips, and which we expect to be infrequent.
We think that's all doable. We'll be using our AAA discount wherever possible and looking for any other deals we can find (hello, Marriott Rewards points). Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments. And you should really let us know if you spot a math error anywhere above...
Dinner tonight: TJ's casserole (last night's leftover stew plus couscous) with mock mimosas (last night's leftover white wine plus orange juice). Inexpensive and delicious!