Road Tripping 1,700 Miles to the Mecca of All Things Finance Blogging: FINCON!!

Right now. With a baby. And a sickness. And a wife ;)

For those non-pf bloggers out there, FINCON is our yearly financial blogger conference – this time in St. Louis – put together by fellow sexy blogger, PT, from PT Money. People literally come from around the world to attend this, and it’s pretty much the best place ever for finance nerds to let loose and have fun. If you can believe it, we actually dance and drink and stay up past our bed times the whole time! Haha… we’re ballers.

I know most of you could care less about the blogging stuff, though, so I’ll leave my turned-on’ness at that. What you WILL probably be interested in, however, is the costs and how the hell we’re going to make it through this adventure alive. (Did I tell you we were bringing the baby toddler along?)

Here are the details:

Driving: We’re getting a rental car (SUV) and heading out over 800 miles one way, and then turning around a few days later and doing it all over again (and hopefully not while hungover! (Good luck with that, self)). Plane tickets for three was going to cost over $1,200 if we got lucky ($800 at the cheapest IF we didn’t get the baby a seat – which I hear can go 50/50 in the department of making it through with any morsels of sanity left?), so we decided to make an adventure of it and “see what happens.”

Switching to a rental care will cost us around $500 in total, after all gas and tax/etc. But if we need to break the trip into two parts each way, then it’s more like $700 total for extra hotel rooms. Which then means we might as well have just bought the plane tickets!! Haha… so wish us luck we can pull each route off in one full – hard – day.

Btw, we’re pulling the “Enterprise” trick too again and trying to pay less for an upgraded car (approximately $50-$100 less). The way it goes is you always book one level down from the line of cars you REALLY want, and then when you get there you graciously accept their free upgrade :) I’m about 4 out of 5 on this right now, so I’m pretty confident it’ll work this morning too. With the only downside being if it *doesn’t*, we’re stuck with what we ordered (base level SUV). So always have to weigh the risks when shooting for this ;)

Hotel: I’ll be staying at the conference hotel all weekend, while the wife and baby stay with a cousin out in St Louis. For anyone who does conferences, you know you have to be on point 24/7 and network your ass off the entire time, so unfort. I won’t be able to spend quality time w/ the gang while there (but I’ll be sneaking in the little guy to some events to show him off, he he…)

This hotel will cost $140 a night including all taxes, and I’ll be staying there 4 nights and sharing it with another blogger friend splitting it 50/50. So my total hotel costs will be around $280.

SO, total costs of either $800 or $1,000 depending on extra hotel situation. For almost an entire week in St. Louis having fun and talking business. The other perk to all this? I CAN WRITE IT ALL OFF :) So really, what’s that – $500/$600 in true costs? Not too bad at all…

The potential problems:

  • The toddler doesn’t do the car ride AT. ALL. And we’re stuck in the middle of the country stranded at whits end. And then I never make it to the conference and I bitch and moan the entire ride home. Likeliness of this happening: 2% He’s gotta fall asleep *some time* right? ;)
  • The *wife* doesn’t do the car ride AT. ALL. She’s always down for a road trip (in fact, this was her idea!), but as luck would have it she just came down with a sickness last night :( Hopefully it’s just a 24 hour thing, but regardless we’ll all be in a car for who knows how many hours all day today, so it’s definitely a concern. Likeliness of us needing to turn around because of this: 15%. Likeliness of us all getting sick: 99%.
  • We can’t make it there, or back, in one full day of driving (roughly 14 hours with NO stops – HAH!), and then have to pay for 2 extra hotel nights AND possibly make it late to the start of the conference tomorrow. Likeliness of this happening: 50%. At least for the first part…
  • Something bad happens to the car and we’re stranded that way… Not putting likeliness of that happening here cuz I don’t want to jinx it!!!

On the positive side, here’s a bunch of awesome stuff that could happen with this :)

  • The toddler gets used to doing road trips and we do more and more of them in the future! He did pretty well in our last – and only – one, back in December when we headed out to Durham and Wilmington for new home shopping, so that’s encouraging.
  • The wife magically gets better and there’s nothing to worry about at all.
  • We make it there, and back, in one major journey and save both money and time. Times two.
  • We have a blast and it’s fun family time together!

I’m betting my money on the latter possibilities, mainly because I have to, haha… The idea of this turning into a nightmare and/or missing out on the conference altogether is just too much to bare. ;) This is one of my favorite times of the year!!

So that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of the week. Shaking hands and saving money. You?

What is the farthest you’ve ever gone with a baby in the car? WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE??? I’ll already be on the road once you see this so it’s too late to change my mind back to flying – haha – but I’ll have plenty of time to read any advice you may have and see if it works ;) Drop ’em in the comments and hook a brotha up!

I’ll see you back here in a bit… Pray for us.

PS: I’ve lined up some sexy posts while I’m away, so you won’t even notice I’m gone. Feel free to drop comments/questions as normal though, and I’ll still hit ya back as I can when I’m online… For faster results, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

[Photo cred: garbyal]

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  1. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies October 16, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    Hope the wife feels better soon! If you haven’t already, grab some hand sanitizer at your first pee break. If it decreases the chances of EVERYONE getting sick to even 75% it can be well worth it =)

    Travel safely and see you in St Louis!

  2. Lance @ Money Life and More October 16, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Good luck with the car trip. I don’t have a kid, but we’ll be making a long drive for thanksgiving (13 hours) with our dog for the first time. Might be just as eventful.

  3. Jennifer October 16, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    We did a trip from Indy to Gulf Shores, AL – in one day, with a 4 year old. Total of about 16 hours one way. Lots of stops, switching drivers. Packed lots of toys (quiet ones), games we could play, “her” iPhone loaded with games, songs and videos, and a DVD player. She did great both ways. It also helped that there were seven adults (in two cars) that played musical chairs so she always seemed to have someone new to sit with.

    When she was an infant, we used to do 3-5 hour trips (one way) to see family about once a month or so. That may have helped get her trained for road trips.

    Be prepared for lots of potty breaks, silly songs that you make up on the spot, and some great memories!

  4. Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions October 16, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    We are not road warriors without our little guy. The farthest we’ve gone is just over 300 miles. But, I did it alone with a preschooler this summer, which turned out to be fine. I played the “Raspberries” CD, which is a story told by a great storyteller. It kept his attention for the entire 45 minutes of the CD. Then a compilation of Disney songs. Then a compilation of Dinosaur Train songs. As long as you don’t mind getting kids’ music stuck in your head, you should be fine!

    Of course, with toddlers, you just hope against all hope that they fall asleep. Then, DON’T STOP FOR ANYTHING! Until they wake up.

  5. jestjack October 16, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    If your child is anything like mine were…you’ll have it made! Car rides put them right to sleep…in fact DW would have to check them to see if they were OK. Sooo I’m betting baby boy will be a team player and enjoy the ride. Like you I have tried to “crack the code” on rental car companies. On a recent trip that DD2 and DW made to California they booked “economy car” with the :”teaser rate” in the hopes that there would be no econo boxes left and they would get the upgrade. When they got there there were plenty of those “clown cars” that only one suit case would fit in….which meant they had to pay for the upgrade. Calling those econo boxes cars…is criminal! The crazy thing is…the rental car costs were more than the hotel stays. Econo lodge and the like offer some pretty sweet deals AND offer free breakfast…might want to check it out… Have a safe trip….

  6. Miss Fit October 16, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Good luck! When our daughter was 1, we drove from St. Louis to Chicago. We’d packed 3 changes of clothes in case of a mishap. Unfortunately she projectile vomited for at least 2 hours. By the time we got to our destination, she was sitting in only a diaper (in January). It took forever to clean the car. When our son was about the same age, we drove to New Hampshire and he slept almost the whole way. I guess you never know what you’ll get!

  7. Cat @ Budget Blonde October 16, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Have soooooooo much fun and good luck with the road trip!! :) Can’t wait to go next year!!

  8. Heather @ JustAnotherBetsy October 16, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    A few years back my sister and I drove her 10 month old baby from Dallas, TX to Tallahassee, Fl. Approximately 15-16 hours one way. It involved a lot of attentiveness and toys and stops but it wasn’t a complete nightmare. I definitely second the hand sanitizer though. Don’t want everyone to end up feeling icky!

  9. Amy October 16, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Find some music the little one likes, and be prepared to listen to it over and over. This was the only way I survived a very long journey with a toddler, he never got bored of a particular nursery rhyme CD!

  10. Financial Samurai October 16, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Oh wow, that is one long road trip dude! Stay safe!

    Flights to STL from SF are $1,085 for one person if one books now! Didn’t realize STL was such a great vacation destination!

  11. getrichwithme October 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    turn up the heater in the car, kids asleep , have a great trip

  12. Debt Blag October 16, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Safe travels and I hope that all of the positive outcomes come true. See you at FinCon :)

  13. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel October 16, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Sending some good vibes your way! I’m only a 5-hour car drive away from St. Louis, but unfortunately we can’t afford it this year :( I am doing the virtual pass, though, and I’ll definitely be there next year!

  14. Heather Stephens October 16, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Start ’em young! We road trip everywhere with our kids. I love the family time, love giving the kids a movie so I can have time with my husband to dream, plan, and laugh. And I totally love stopping spontaneously to see sights along the way!

    –Hospitals make great middle of the night bathrooms (usually pretty clean).
    –It’s worth stopping to eat somewhere instead of trying to eat in the car. (Burn off some toddler energy while you’re there).
    –Bring plenty of movies, toys, books, etc. to keep baby$ occupied.
    –And if/when he’s out of diapers, feeding him salty snacks will give you a touch more road time between potty breaks.

    Drive safely, have fun! Hope your wife feels better! See you there. :)

  15. John S @ Frugal Rules October 16, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Wow, you’re a better man than I am J$! I think the longest drive we’ve done with the kids is about 400 miles and they were unspooling as we were near the end of the tri. We’re leaving in a few hours for St. Louis ourselves, but thankfully sans kiddos and a little less than half the distance. Save driving. :)

  16. Brian October 16, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    My sister drove from Baltimore to Indianapolis with her baby and said it was ok. The furthest we have gone was Indy to Cleveland so I’m not much help. Personally I would have flown. So far our little guy has been on 18 flights including one international one. He has been a lap child each time and great on each flight.

    I look forward to hearing what you have learned from your road trip so I can use the info in the future. I’d offer to buy ya a beer if you stopped in Indy, but at that point you are only like 4 hours from your goal and should just power through!

  17. October 16, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    14 hours with two non-willing passengers! Good luck man!! :)

    No, I’m sure you’ll have fun. Enjoy yourselves!!

  18. Romona @Monasez October 16, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    I’ve driven thousands of miles with a baby in the car.the key is to have movies and snacks for them.

  19. Brian October 16, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Safe trip. NY to FL with the 3 kids. I lost track of the “Are we there yet” some were in Delaware. Good times.

  20. Connie @ Savvy With Saving October 16, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Haha good luck and safe travels!

  21. Shawn October 16, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I will go with movies and snacks too.
    My parents, sister in law, and best friend all live around 600 miles away.
    We make the trip probably twice a year and usually just for a long weekend.
    The kids (2 & 3) are pretty good in the car as long as there is a movie on to keep them distracted but by the time we get there they are usually done being in the car.

    When I used to drive up solo I could make it there in about 8.5 hours with one quick stop.
    With my wife and kids in the car for the trip it goes to anywhere from 10-13 hours for the same trip. You need to make more stops and they will take longer.

  22. Sarah October 16, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    You can do it! We moved from Florida to Oregon last year, and my husband drove the truck while I drove our minivan (with our three kids) all the way to Oregon. I lost it by the time we hit Utah. I went to Costco and bought three fat sticker books. Like 1000 pages of stickers, and gave them each one. By the time we reached our new home it was like stickers had vomited all over the the van. I did not care. We also did the DVD player, Leapster, gameboy, and ipod thing. We’ve now added a Nintendo DS to the bunch for more excitement. Basically we rely purely on digital entertainment. My kids are addicts but I don’t know any other way to do it. At a younger age we also went through a lot of goldfish and fruit snacks in the car.

  23. Mom @ Three is Plenty October 16, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Snacks and videos – “long” car trips are the only time she gets to use the iPad, so it’s special. With a “baby” driving isn’t so bad – with a potty training toddler, I don’t think I’ve *ever* stopped so much in my life on the last 200mile trip to grandma’s, and we’re doing it again this weekend.

  24. Michelle October 16, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Good luck! I really hope we can meet :)

  25. Slackerjo October 16, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Last Feb. I flew to Australia which for an ADULT is a very long journey. My LA > Brisbane hop was 13 hours long and there was a family in the row ahead of me. The entire whole family was not able to get seats together, so Dad and one child were in a different part of the plane (they came by to visit a few times) and Mom and 3 kids were in front of me.
    The kids in front of me were total angels for 12 hours and 55 minutes. As the plane was docking the 10 year old sister finally just snapped at her 8 year old brother. Since the plane was almost at the gate, the cabin was very quiet, so the entire back of the plane got to hear this conversation:

    10 Year old sister: Stop making faces at me!
    8 Year old brother: I am not.
    10 Year old sister: You are! You are making FACES!
    8 Year old brother: I am not.
    10 Year old sister: You are. Mum he’s making faces at him. Make him stop.
    8 Year old brother: I am not making faces.
    10 Year old sister: Mum’s he’s making faces at me!!! Just stop it!

    Everyone around them were just trying NOT to crack up. The guy sitting next to me, his face was flushed red because he was trying not to laugh.

    So what I am saying is at least Baby $ does not have any siblings to fight with (yet) so I guess,that’s half the battle.

  26. Jacob | iHeartBudgets October 16, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Good luck brother! Can’t take wife/kids with me this time, but they’d probably be crazy bored anyways. I’m flying out tomorrow, and booked it with miles, so doing it on the cheap! Splitting the hotel with a buddy as well, so I’ll be out about $300. Food and other activities might cost as well.

    We took out 8 month old to California (12 hours) and he cried for the last 3. It was bearable, but barely. Hope things work out, and definitely just hop on the mommy blogs to find ways to keep kids calm and (hopefully) asleep during long road trips.

  27. Micro October 16, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    Good luck on the road trip. I have had to do the long road trips but never with small children in tow. Although if you head out at night, you might be able to get through most of it while they sleep. :)

  28. RCONN October 16, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    This has to be the only time I am happy to live in Saint Louis.

  29. Lauren October 16, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Have fun on your trip! I can’t imagine driving that far with a baby, more power to you sir. I did not realize that other people intentionally did that with enterprise. When my sister and I went to Austin, we wanted a small economy car and ended up cruising around Texas in a white Crown Victoria looking like under-cover cops. It was much larger than we expected.

  30. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen October 16, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    Good luck on the road trip and have fun at the conference! I’m sure everything will go well. I don’t have a baby so I can’t really give you tips. The one time went on a long road trip with my niece was 6 hours. She wailed for about an hr and fell asleep the rest of the time.

    When I was road tripping across the country, we took breaks every 2 hours! Seemed to work well for us!

  31. Dear Debt October 17, 2013 at 3:22 AM

    Have fun in STL and hope you survived!