Day 3165 – Taking A Solo Vacation – How Much It Costs – What Happened On My First Trip

Oh what fun it was to take a solo vacation! The whole goal was a poetry reading and signing in northern NJ, which I would have done yesterday regardless. Since we got money back from our taxes (and were able to spend the money we had saved for taxes), I was able to get a hotel and make a little bit more of a trip out of it.

Total costs in each category:
Hotel – $102.86
Gas – $52.00
Food – $49.43
Books – $101.68
Tolls – $23.25
Total spent – $329.22

Notes about each category:

Hotel – I will get 1000 bonus points to my Southwest rewards account, which is roughly $45 worth of airfare. I chose the hotel solely because of this reason. I used Rocketmiles to book it so I would get the credit.

Gas – I got gas in New Jersey, where it’s 100% full service fill up. While not required, I did give the attendant a $5 tip. So gas would have been $47. I also filled up in rest stops, which tends to be more expensive gas. I use mid-grade gas, so that makes it a little more too. I started the trip with about a 25-40% full tank.

Food – I purchased sodas, energy drinks, veggies, lunch meat, and a few snacks at Aldi and a few other stores before I left. I also purchased some snacks and a meal on the road. I probably could have been ok with just what I brought, maybe picking up a coffee or two on the drives. But I also wanted to enjoy myself and not worry about spending money.

Books – I purchased each of the author’s books (~$15 each) and I purchased a new journal for myself (pictured below). The journal was about $35, so I hesitate to include it in the total. I see journals as an investment in myself, and they truly aren’t THAT expensive when I know that I will be using it almost daily for 1-2ish years. I also signed up for the Barnes & Noble membership ($25)….which may or may not be worth it in the long run. I did save $8 yesterday, but I so rarely buy books. We shall see.

Tolls – I use EZ pass, so the Maryland tolls are cheaper for me. I had NO idea how much I spent on tolls until I got back. While I don’t exactly recommend spending without knowing what you’re spending, it was a great feeling to not worry about cost.

I left Maryland immediately after I dropped Bret off at school. I was able to finish my work tasks and push anything non-urgent to Monday, so I had a pretty light mind as I set off.

My book of choice to listen to was Peter Pan read by Jim Dale. He read the Harry Potter books and we LOVED him. He’s been doing a fantastic job and that book got me through most of the trip.

The only thing on the agenda for my trip was stay at a hotel in Jersey on Friday night and then go to the signing about 20 minutes away on Saturday afternoon. I plugged in the address for the hotel, about 3 hours away, and I would arrive about 3 hours before checkin. My thought was to just drive and see where I ended up. It was so fun to travel this way.

After I arrived in lower New Jersey, I saw a sign for Atlantic City. I’ve never been to Atlantic City, but have thought about visiting a few times. Ha ha, there are some pretty cheap Groupon and Living Social deals, but I’ve had a “Las Vegas on the ocean” idea about Atlantic City…and I’m not a fan of Las Vegas…

But I was curious, so I turned off the main highway to drive to the coast. I had an idea of driving up the coastline to get to my destination.

As I drove, I noticed a sign for Cape May, and I turned off at the last second. Cape May has been on my bucket list for a while, so I thought what better time than now?

I ended up following some signs and ended up on a bay. I’m not sure if this was someone’s property or not, but I took a few minutes to look at the water and record a Facebook live for my group. 

After this, I actually missed the turn for Cape May and ended up in Wildwoods – ha ha, just one beach north. Ah well, I have a feeling I’ll have more fun in Cape May with Bret anyways. I loved the vibe of Wildwoods! I mean, hello, look at this welcome area!

When traveling alone, a requirement is terrible selfies. (Check!)

I couldn’t believe how far out the water was from the boardwalk. I didn’t even bother walking out. Way too far!

I never did end up at Atlantic City, but I did see it from a distance.

I picked up Taco Bell for dinner and I arrived at the hotel around 3. I settled in for a night of movies, junk food, journaling, and fun chats with Bret. I slept decently well, even if it was on a bed.

Oh my goodness, this hotel had THE best breakfast setup I’ve EVER experienced! The pancakes were actually made by a machine in a minute! It was so fun! The bacon was top notch and all in all, a really great breakfast.

I did some more movie watching (finally watched A Monster Calls), more crying (for joy), and more journaling. I discovered a few things about myself on the trip and I’m really glad I went. I had some book ideas and even a potential shift in how my alcoholism memoir will be written. I’ve thought about taking a trip alone for a long time. I had a grand idea that I could lock myself in a hotel room to write (which didn’t happen) and would be inspired in my work (which totally DID happen).

After I left the hotel, I ended up driving to the coast, which was only about 15 minutes away. The hotel I stayed at was on the same road. I ended up Facetiming with Bret so he could see the ocean with me. Ah me, I love the ocean.

It was a totally beautiful day.

I arrived at the Barnes & Noble for the signing about an hour before it was due to start. I knew I wanted to buy the books by each author and buy something to commemorate my journey. Whether it was a coffee mug, a t shirt/sweatshirt, or something else. I was nearing the end of my current journal and this beautiful piece stood out to me. I HAD to have it and now I do. It is one of the most amazing journals I’ve seen. Sure, I love the dark, leather ones….but purple is my color in so many senses of the word.

I made my purchases of each book, which I have since read, and love. The following links to their work are all affiliate links. So if you decide to buy (which I hope you do!) I will get a very small percentage of what you spend, at no additional cost to you.

I found a seat in the back row, and cracked open one of the books. I started with DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker. I didn’t realize until a week or so ago that he is Amanda’s husband. Which, as a marriage blogger and author, was a pretty sweet reading to attend. Since I had read Amanda’s first book, the princess saves herself in this one, I wanted to read Cyrus’s work to know what he was like. Oh friends, his work is on the same level as his talented wife. Both have an uncanny ability to put words to things I have gone through. From wrecked relationships to personal struggles to untold joy of great relationships. I am so thankful that both of them have put their words to page and put their books out to the world.

After Cyrus’s reading, the Barnes & Noble employee asked him what a dropkick was. He stood up and explained. Her response, something along the lines of, um, ok, you can sit back down now, I have no more questions, was hilarious.

Then Amanda read from her new book, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. It was neat to hear her talk about her process of writing, the unexpected publishing deal, as well as the fun fact that she had worked at the very Barnes & Noble we were sitting in.

After the reading, I hopped in line for the signings. I found a poem I loved in Cyrus’s book that totally reflected how I feel about Bret, and he signed that. I mean, how cool is this? Dropkick the world I will!

This poem by Amanda was one that spoke so deeply to my soul when I first read it. Even though I’m two books into my writing journey, it still spoke to me. I’m grateful they both obliged to sign random pages!

Since I hadn’t read her new book yet, I flipped through while waiting in line. I just so happened to find THE perfect poem.

Wooo hooo for poetry, awesome poets, AND solo vacations!


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