General Question

deni's avatar

Do you have any tips for saving money and successfully going on a pretty huge road trip?

Asked by deni (22853points) September 24th, 2009

I am trying to find a city in the US that I want to live in. As of now, it’s Boulder, Tucson, South Dakota, or SF. But, there are other places I feel like I might like to live in too, but I’ve never been to – Vermont, Portland OR, Seattle, who knows.

So, I want to do a final road trip with a friend before I settle down in one area. But this road trip would be pretty big…it would start in Pittsburgh and go through South and North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, up to Washington, down to San Francisco, hopefully through Death Valley and Arizona, then across Texas and back up to PA. Me and the same friend did a similar but not as big trip last summer, and it was a huge success.

This time, we plan to camp out a lot more than we did last time. Too much money is wasted on hotels. So anyhow, does anyone have any suggestions on other things that might save money? Cheaper ways to eat? I tend to spend most of my money on food, so thats always a problem for me. Or any good travel road trip web sites that might give me a little more direction when it comes to this.

Also, if you live in one of the places I mentioned, or anywhere else really, and you think it’s worth checking out, I’d like to hear about it.

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13 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Look at sites like to plan homestays with people.

kevbo's avatar

might be worth your while to learn about hypermiling and/or aeromodding.

Another thing you can do is sign up with temp agencies/day labor or what have you to earn money along the way. That worked for me when I stayed in Seattle for a month, although I already had a relationship with the agency—Employco.

Seattle and Portland are great cities for progressive types who like rainy and cloudy weather. Not sure exactly how they are faring with the economy, although I’ve heard that young people in Portland have been struggling to find work.

Boulder is a great locale for the REI crowd. Home to a university and a few specialized schools (culinary, alt medicine, etc).

charliecompany34's avatar

work some overtime and set it aside or dip in to the christmas club account. it’s hard to fly or drive far these days for regular folk like us. i always hear about all these cheap airfare deals on commercials and when i check into it, it turns out to be way over what i expected. if it’s $49 to fly to st. louis (for example, because i cant see why anybody would want to fly there), then why does the total seem so unaffordable?

sorry, not a frequent flier here. i just dont get air fare deals. while we’re on the subject, can somebody help? i really want to fly somewhere with the fam super cheap.

kevbo's avatar

Oh, and maybe get some kind of mobile cheap gas application for your phone.

answerjill's avatar

Hostels are a good way to save when looking for places to stay. Buying food in grocery stores and preparing it yourself—even if it is only making sandwiches—will save you more money than eating out regularly. As for saving up money for the big trip, here is what I am doing for a trip that I would like to take this summer: I set up an ING online savings account. I set it up so that 50 dollars will be transferred from my checking to my savings account twice a month (at the times when I get paid). Good luck!

Kraigmo's avatar

Sleep at rest stops, and shower at truck stops. Showers usually cost $5.00. They have laundry facilities next to the shower too. All truck stops (aka “travel centers”) have these.

Les's avatar

Boulder is quite a bit different than “South Dakota” and Wyoming. Guh. Very different. Boulder = much nicer.

YARNLADY's avatar

Never buy restaurant food and do not stay in motels. Consider putchasing a membership in the YMCA/YWCA where you can use showers and other facilities. Do extensive research along the route you will be traveling. All Truck Stop centers offer extensive rest and refresh facilities. AAA provides maps, including campgrounds and tenting parks.

fluthercom's avatar

use to track where your money goes….

cbloom8's avatar

Driving all over the country finding where you want to live is expensive enough. Don’t worry too much.

azusenal's avatar

I live in Tucson AZ and I think it’s worth checking out. This is a big locale for movie making. There are lots of nature things to do here (if you’re into that sort of thing). The mountains and views are beautiful and cost of living is not high. All in all the weather year-round is great! Our winters are 30 to 50 degrees! Not very cold. Our downtown area has grown so much and nightlife is much more fun now than it used to be in the past!

deni's avatar

@azusenal I love Tucson! My brother lived there from January – April…I spent a week there visiting him and I loved it. It wasn’t terribly hot then, though, so I’m not sure how much I would enjoy the middle of summer. But I loved that it was such a cute little city and there was a lot to do, not TOO far to Sedona, and I adored Mt. Lemmon.

angelaclaire's avatar

I second the advice to buy your food at the grocery store rather than restaurants. Keep a cooler or two in your car, so you don’t have to shop every day, and bring along a little grill so you can barbecue now and then. Choosing wheat/whole grain breads and other healthy, fiber- and protein-rich foods over the empty calories in chips, candy, and other snack foods will help you feel full longer, too. Also, don’t waste your money on drinks – just keep full water bottles on hand and eat lots of fresh fruit on your drive to stay hydrated.

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