I just picked up a copy of Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen from my local library because I wanted to plan an inexpensive road trip this year. The book’s itineraries, albeit too rich for my budget-loving blood, got me to thinking about ways you can cut costs and still see some of America’s most beautiful attractions, landscapes, and cities.
Here’s how you can take an inexpensive road trip without blowing a tire or your budget:
- Map your course. Use MapQuest or Google Maps to plan your itinerary. Plan to stay overnight in state parks or budget accommodations. You can find log cabins, treehouses, and even yurts to rent by going to http://www.airbnb.com/.
- Stay off the interstate. Avoid paying tolls and take a more scenic route to your location. You miss a lot when you travel down the busy interstate. For a list of wacky roadside attractions, visit http://www.roadsideamerica.com/.
- Pack your lunch. Shop the local markets and brownbag your lunch when you travel. Not only will you save a ton of money, you’ll also be able reduce calories by selecting healthy, low-fat options. Fabulous Travel has a great article on its site titled, How to Make Travel Picnic Packs for Suitcase or Backpack. Here’s where you’ll find it: http://www.fabuloustravel.com/brown-baglunches/article/412/21505.
- Visit free attractions and festivals. Make the Chamber of Commerce in the cities that you are visiting your friend. They can provide you with information and literature about upcoming events and festivals. You can also check out websites like 2Camels and Festivals.com. They have up-to-date listings of things to do in all the major cities in the United States.
- Skip the souvenirs and take pictures instead. Beautiful pictures can be taken and turned into customized postcards easily. Carry along some heavy cardstock, a glue stick, and a sharpie. Stop by a drugstore or retailer and have photos printed before heading to your next destination. Send your handmade postcards to friends and make sure to keep a few for yourself. You can record details on the back to help remind you of your trip.
The beauty of a road trip is that you call the shots. You determine where you go, how long you stay, and what types of things you see and experience along the way. Although guidebooks are great for introducing to different cities and attractions, no one knows what piques your interests better than you do. With very little money, you too, can travel to some of the most exciting parts of the country easily.
Charissa is into frugal living and saving money.