Road trip on a budget. How much will it cost?
There are many budget-friendly options that you can take that would still allow you to get to your destination. So if you think you can’t afford to travel, think again.
Different people, different style of travel. Maybe the best description of our travel style is comfortable cheap road trip. Whenever possible, we try to save but we are not on such a tight budget that we will put up with extremely unpleasant or unsafe circumstances just to save a little money. Make sure to plan your itinerary too. A planned itinerary helps you a lot in budgeting and plan it early, I do mine at least 6 months to a year in advance. This will be enough to make research and bookings to get some savings.
Here are some tips on how we travel and do the budget.
Do an online search for good accommodation deals and get lists of all the Hotels, Motels, Youth Hostels and Backpacker Hostels in the place that you have selected to visit. Remember that your accommodations do not necessarily have to be first class, as you are just looking for a place to sleep. Check out if you can stay in friends to save on accommodation expenses. If booking with a hotel or motel check out too if they have Rewards Points Membership, with this you can accumulate points and in time you can exchange it for free rooms on your next travel. Inquire about membership discounts through organizations like AAA and AARP. AAA member you can get 10% discount on accommodation and restaurants, for AARP member up to 20%.
My husband and I don’t mind sleeping in motels, it’s within our budget plus we get discounts from AAA and AARP, really a very good deal. Some motels serve breakfast and that is a plus and saves a portion of your budget.
We have never been a foodie. Food rarely takes a vital role in our travels. We do treat ourselves to a good meal, especially when we are in a place that serves good local food with reasonable priced, but we don’t do it often or else we’ll be going to break our budget. More often we check around if there is any Chinese restaurants. They serve big, sometimes a meal can be shared by two with free soup, a $7 Chinese meal is a good deal plus I can’t finish one meal all by myself so I need to share. We usually check if the room has microwave or a little kitchen so bring our own food to cook. And of course we bring our rice cooker too. You can also take some picnic food if you’re driving road trip take some rest stops along the way or have a picnic in a state park, it is a great way to break up the drive and save a few bucks. Make a daily food budget. Our food budget is $30/person/day. Can you eat cheaper, and save for some pricey food that you may like. Or survive on $10 a day, if you’re trying to save money, get a giant bag of trail mix and lit it account for 60% of your daily sustenance. Peanuts, raisins and chocolate can go a long way.
TRANSPORTATION & GAS
Because you’re going everywhere, it’s difficult to estimate how much gasoline you will need. But if you are really determine how much gas you need you can do some estimates. I used my Google map to check how many miles from my starting point to the next point of destination. Then get the next one again until you all destination points mileage. Add then all together and multiply it by 1.3. 30% of you initial mileage will be added as an allowance for unexpected driving such as getting lost, touring around the parks or visiting town. Let’s say you calculated 3000 miles in all points of destination: 3000 x 1.3 = 3900 miles. Take note of how many miles per gallon your car run, and for our car it’s 30miles/gallon. By then divide the total estimated miles by your car’s MPG, then multiply it by the highest gas price you can think of, I estimate it as $5/gallon. You’ll get an estimate cost of gas.
3900 miles ÷ 30 mpg = 130 gallons x $5 = $650
Incidentals are things like items purchased, entrance fees to state parks and national parks, parking fee, souvenir etc. For state parks and national parks, you can buy an annual pass to save some bucks. Visit the tourist information centers in the area, where you can also obtain informational packets or ask the guides for advice on how you can maximize your stay and experience without spending too much. Many visitors bureaus will have discount transit passes. Check too for free museum days. Since you are traveling for a new adventure and sightseeing, and not for the shopping, you won’t need to buy a lot of souvenirs. Take lots of pictures instead, and let those be your souvenirs.
Enjoy the views along the way, it’s free. Mostly road trip entertainments are usually cheap. Natural scenery generally won’t cripple your pocket. Just remember to stay on your plan and budget, and let yourself enjoy the trip. Be safe, drive cautiously and be aware of your surroundings. Take frequent stops to stretch your legs and relax. If you are feeling tired and sleepy, look for a place to park and take a nap for a few minutes then continue driving.