So, I’m making a cross country move using only my car because I wanted to avoid paying for a moving truck. With all of my belongings stashed away in the trunk and the back seat, I set off on what could easily become a three day drive. Limited on both time and money, I decided it was best to keep my costs as low as possible while driving from the East Coast to the Midwest. Plus it is always good to find different ways to save money. Here’s what I’ve done so far.
- Find a friend or family member to stay with overnight. Staying with the people that you care the most about is far more fun than spending the night alone in the most expensive luxury hotel. If this is not an option for you, consider signing up for an account at CouchSurfing.org. It’s free to join and easy to find a place to stay for a night or two. Look at the profiles listed, contact the member with your request, and voila, you score free lodging for a day or two. It’s as easy as that. My friend Vicky traveled all over Latin America very cheaply as a Couch Surfer.
- Pack snacks and beverages that are easy to consume in the car. Using the passenger seat as my “kitchen”, I was able to prepare a number of hassle-free snacks including pretzels with individual tubs of peanut butter, fresh fruit and raw veggies, and pumpkin seeds. I also have a cooler stocked with ice and bottles of water and juice. This allows me to eat and drink what I want without having to stop every few hours for a meal. You can easily put together a couple of sandwiches and eat these as well. Think about items that require little effort to eat while driving. Squeezable tubes of yogurt as well as individual bags of chips, crackers, and dried fruit are easy to unwrap or open with one hand.
- Find the cheapest gas by using a mobile app like GasBuddy. Using my iPod Touch, I am able to locate the cheapest gas wherever I go. I just open an app like GasBuddy, allow the internal GPS to locate the city that I’m closest to, and select the filling station that has the best price based on the listings. This allows me to get out and stretch my legs from time to time as well. (By the way, I have to have a wireless Internet connection to do this. I prefer Virgin Mobile’s MiFi card because there is no contract and it is very reliable. You can connect up to four wireless devices using it.)
- Avoid buying cheesy souvenirs. I have a brand new digital camera that I couldn’t wait to put to use. Instead of picking up bags upon bags of t-shirts, postcards, and magnets, I opted to take really beautiful pictures. High up in the mountains of Alabama, I was able to get some incredible shots. I was also able to see sights that I’ve only seen on TV. Now’s how’s that for amazing? If you really want something to help you remember a trip, consider picking up a cheap spiral notebook or dollar store journal. Record your memories that way.
- Earn some income while traveling. There are a number of income boosting opportunities that can come out of a road trip. For example, if you’re a writer, you can share your experience with others by writing a travelogue of how-to article. The Lost Girls have a list of websites willing to pay you for your work on their website: http://www.lostgirlsworld.com/2011/01/travel-freelancing/. You can also take photos and sell them to magazines or websites. Here is another great resource: http://www.great-adventures.com/know/plan/publish.html.
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.