Best Way To Plan For Your Road Trip
One of my favorite parts of a trip doesn't actually involve the traveling part at all. Months before I actually hit the road, I put pen to paper and start planning the thing. There is a romantic element to just getting behind the wheel as a free spirit and going, but it is not the smartest way to approach a road trip. So take a bit of time and start figuring out the realities of traveling. It can actually be an enjoyable process, I promise!
First of all, you have to know where you are going. This is pretty obvious. The destination or even destinations that you set will direct the the rest of your planning; including but not limited to the budget, the duration and the distance of your #trip.
Out of the, literally, millions of picturesque location available to us world wide, this should be the easiest part of planning. Unless you are one of those indecisive types. If that is the case, maybe you should throw a dart at a picture of map or write down different places on pieces of paper and pick them out of a hat. Figure it out. I believe in you.
So now that you picked out your dream travel destination, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Money. To make sure a trip is feasible, we need to make sure it is affordable. So here are a few things to consider:
#Food - The best way to save money along the road is either prepackaging food or ordering fast food. This keeps you from spending too much time in one location on the way to your main destination. It also keeps you from paying extra money at sit down restaurants (including tip) along the route to your final destination. So when you finally get to your target location, you can splurge and spend your money there.
I understand that fast food isn't the sexiest of ideas while traveling. When we think of new places, we think of all the exotic sites that make them up. Especially restaurants. But those sit down places tend to add up. Remember that in addition to the price tag on the menu, you're also going to be tacking on a tip to the waiter or waitress. Before you know it, a plate for one is costing nearly $20 and that's if you decided NOT to go to the local steakhouse, sushi bar or pretentious hangout.
The Dollar Menu is your friend! I understand that you may be on a diet, but it is vacation -isn't it? Although not the healthiest option, the difference in money saved is massive and it may make an expensive trip into an affordable one. Don't be ashamed that you broke away from your diet, be proud that you pinched your pennies!
But if you do want to experience the towns on your terms -you can! Just realize that eating out at table service locations will quickly add up. Being selective about where and how often you eat at these places will end up saving you a lot of stress and money.
#Accomodations - Unless you are #traveling with a camper or some version of a recreational vehicle, you are going to need a place to lay your head at the end of the day. Traveling by vehicle takes time. There are those who like to drive through the night -sometimes 14+ hours on the road. And if you are one of those types - God bless you. But for the rest, coffee can only take us so far.
If you are the outdoorsy type, camping is a fantastic way to be frugal. Some campsites run less than $20. That's less than one plate at one of those fancy restaurants we talked about above. Of course, some don't feel comfortable having a sleepover with wildlife and for those, I say -don't worry!
Realize that a $140/night room at a Hampton Inn isn't part of a making a memorable trip. I'm pretty sure there 1000's of copy/paste clones all across the world; and although the amenities are nice, the extra amount of money spent for a room with a deluxe size hairdryer may be a bit unnecessary. Instead, find rooms that are a half (sometimes a third) of the price. They may not be the most beautiful places, but in the end, you are just looking for a place to catch a few hours of shut eye.
I often use apps like Hotels.com and Expedia.com to help me find last minute deals in the locations I need to stop. Hotels want to fill up their rooms. So near the end of the day, they often drop prices to entice in the last bit of travelers in the area. That's you; take advantage of it.
Gas - Driving places isn't free (unfortunately). Depending on how gas prices are trending, a road trip can be affordable or impractical. But by using a quick formula, you can figure out which one it is. And the good news is, this formula is easy enough that even the most mathematically challenged can do it -with help from a calculator of course. This is 2018.
If you rather have a template of the formula, you can download it here.
You first need to use your GPS device to figure out how far you will be driving. Once you have that information, round it up a bit. This gives you a little leeway for extra miles that will may be driven getting to hotels, gas station and just making wrong turns. Next, you are going to see how efficient your car is. If you don't know it off the top of your head, you can look up your car's MPGs (Miles Per Gallon) online. Note: Remember that if you packed a lot that your car may be heavier than usual, therefore your MPG's are not as high listed online. Take your miles traveled and divide it by your MPG number. The last part is finding out the nation average gas price. If you'd like to, you can target a region or state and find out their average. This will give you a more precise estimate. Now take the product of the division of before and multiply is by the average cost of gas. This will give you your final gas cost estimate.
If you would like this article summed up in a condensed form that can calculate the cost of a road trip, you can download it below!