Are you traveling this season? Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up your routine as you travel. Even setting out on an adventure is challenging as you try to budget for the trip. In my recent travels to more than 4 states, I have quickly had to learn and use some ingenuity and elbow grease. Hopefully, these 14 budgeting and planning tips will help you get on your way the same way they have helped me!
- Carry food that is as non-perishable as possible. This tip may seem obvious, but whether you’re driving or riding other transportation, it is very difficult to find packaging that keeps everything together. And in tight spaces, smells accumulate very easily. Carry produce with thick skin (avocado) and drinks with pop on or screw on tops as well.
- Use Loves and Pilot gas station to prepare food. Both gas stations are “Travel Centers” and there are many in the US. And each one has a regional map. Use the counter to prepare your foods, complimentary silverware, napkins, and even a microwave. I carried my quick macaroni and fresh avocado and added some really nice salsa from a Loves in Idaho and New Mexico!
- Eat as healthy as possible. Here is one occasion where it really pays to eat your healthiest! Choosing a vegan diet while on the road is actually the easiest (try marinating leafy greens in a mix of lemon juice and honey).
- Know when food will be free. If you must travel late at night, there are many places who will be more than willing to give their leftover food to you. In many cases they just throw things away at the end of the day. On our trip to Alabama, we always bought a few “Dunkin Donuts” and got a box full. It was fun to share with everyone we met on the road!
- Use the defrost to warm everything. Don’t just defrost your toes in the car. If you have food you want to keep warm, put it on the dashboard and turn on the upper defrost. One warning, however, make sure your dashboard is level with nice grooves that will hold it in place if you’re driving.
- Use a high yielding credit card. Simply put, I use my credit card to make large purchases on the road. On one occasion, I ran over my gas cap and the nearest auto parts was miles away. Luckily I had just filled up! Use a card with high yielding rewards so that you can pay yourself back simply by using the card on your trip. Everyone wins!
- Print directions. Although it’s easy to use technology but I have found that not only is it difficult to tell when you will not have reception, but also these devices simply don’t allow you to take in the scenery very well. Printed maps make you focus on the road and memorize the directions a few steps at a time. Trust me it works!
- When driving, use the most cost-effective MPH. It seems that 50 miles per hour saves the most gas. You will feel like a turtle on a few highways in which case, go with the flow of traffic, but I found that it saves at least 6 gallons an hour.
- When driving, take 2-4 hour shifts. Initially, you might be tempted to run straight to your destination but be sure that if you do you will also want to rush to the end because your bum will be tired. These shifts times allow you to refill your tank about every quarter to half tank, keeping mileage running best and making sure you don’t find yourself stranded.
- Use Rewards programs. My favorite hotel rewards program is Choice Privileges they nearly tie Best Western in the most hotel chains, but the rewards are always in place. And the program it very easy to understand. After about 3 stays we had a reward night.
- Beware of American hostels. Unlike their international counterparts, hostels in America seem higher priced than average 3 star hotels with quality of 1 star hotels. I even got eaten overnight by something in a Flagstaff hostel!
- Loves and Pilot shower. Freshen up for around $12 at these two gas stations! For New Years 2014 my family and I were able to get very spiffy for our event. I have yet to visit one of these locations that was not very clean with a lot of amenities included. Don’t forget your shower shoes for safety!
- Visit unique tourist stops. There are quite a few normal stops you could take but websites like roadtrippers.com have some very unique sights to see everywhere in the U.S. The app also coordinates your whole trip for you in the process.
- Use a go spreadsheet template. If you are trying to figure out how to organize your overall plans, I have a template for that!
Overall, the best tip I can give when you take a trip is to minimize as much stress as possible. Have fun, open your eyes wide, be safe, and send pictures!