Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't Fence Me In (or Affordable Road Tripping)

 In order to better serve my loyal blog readers, here is a more focused guide on my tips for road trips on the cheap.  My suggestions are definitely not suitable for everyone.  For someone who hates camping, my idea of a good road trip would be their own personal hell.
I grew up road tripping.  In fact, I'm a second generation road tripper.  Until I was born (youngest of three) my mom and dad (and then my sister and brother) lived a fairly nomadic lifestyle traveling around the country and living in Arizona, Michigan, California and more.  They were adventurers, traveling so often while homeschooling their kids.  When I was born, we settled for good in Oregon but continued to take camping trips ever summer.  I have such fond memories driving for hours on end with my mom and brother to get to Glacier National Park, the Tetons and other wild spots.  My family was not well off, but what we lacked financially we more than made up with thrift, adventure and love of travel.  For those of you not making the big bucks or merely looking for adventure, I recommend shutting yourself in a small car with your loved ones, driving for days and seeing what happens.

Tips for Road Trips

1.  Sell off most of your belongings for gas money.  Ok, so that might not be so wise for everyone, but I sold my couch, tv and odds and ends on craigslist.  This furniture money paid for fuel from New York to Oregon in a pick up truck so I'm guessing it was worth it. Bonus: limited belongings = lighter travel.

2.  Bring as much food from home that you can.  As tempting as eating out every meal can be, even the cheapest fast food begins to take its toll on your bank account.  Invest in some bags of ice, a cooler and shop along the way.  Get a cheap camp stove and cook your food.  Besides, everyone knows that food tastes better when cooked outside.  My mom is queen of campsite cooking with creative meals like campsite nachos.

3.  Camp.  I can't emphasize enough how much money I have saved by choosing a sleeping bag over an uncomfortable hotel bed.  This summer's cross country road trip would not have been feasible had I stayed in hotels along the way.  I'm proud to say that during a three week trip, Wojc and I only splurged on one hotel room in Santa Fe, NM due to Wojc getting sick.

4. Skip the museums, tours, tourist traps that cost money.  Ok, I'm sure some of you are cringing, but unless you are desperate to head into a city to see a Renoir (which you could always find a free day anyway), I suggest bypassing these and heading off the beaten path where most of the attractions and historical sites are free.  Let's be real, I'm talking about a road trip on a shoestring budge, this is not the time for galleries.  You'll be pleasantly surprised by all there is out there.  Natural bridges, hikes, historical museums at state parks, city centers, and more.

5.  Make use of "free" internet. When you need to fire up your lap top and blog, get directions and whatever, pull up to the nearest hotel/convention center/hardware store and make it quick.

6.  Unless you are on a random "go where ever the wind takes you" type of trip, then try to stick to a fairly direct route. I'm the first to suggest going off the beaten track, but only to a certain extent.  If you back track, go in circles and get lost often you are going to pay way more than necessary at the gas pump.
These are just a few of the endless ways to save on road trips.  If it weren't for these tips, I would travel way less frequently.  Some would rather travel once a year but live it up at a nice hotel and meals out, others (like myself) would rather camp, hike, prepare our food and shower less frequently all in the name of regular (and exciting!) travel.
Finally, with this type of trip you need to have a spirit of adventure and be ready for the unexpected.  You are going to have a few upsets and it's best to know that going in.  Don't get discouraged after a rainy night or a cold.  Keep on treking!
rainy Oklahoma days

post-rainy days.

How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof!  In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.  ~John Muir

1 comment:

Lena said...

Reading this blog totally made me think of our adventures. Not only through europe but as a child tagging along on your family camping trips. Some of my FONDEST memories.