Road trip season is in full-swing, and with the high cost of fuel right now, it’s not going to be cheap to travel. I’ve come up with 10 (or more) ways you can save money (and some headaches) out on the road, without starving (or feeling funky). So, saddle-up and get ready for the open road adventure. This is somewhat of a continuation of a previous blog post dealing with a similar theme.
Food: We all know fast food sucks, and the good stuff can cost a small fortune. If you have room in your vehicle for a decent-sized cooler, I recommend getting one. Grocery stores are a good place to stock-up on food to take with you. No…not Spam, vienna sausages, beenie weenies, or any of that crap. Sliced meats from the deli section are good, but a bit pricey, too. There’s nothing wrong with getting a few packages of lunch meat, sliced cheese, and other stuff to go along with it. Unless you plan on picking up a jar of caviar, you won’t break the bank….besides that, fish eggs are plain nasty. Try to avoid getting food items that require freezing, or won’t keep for more that a few days on ice. Don’t worry, you can still save money on food during your adventure…as long as you stay away from the fancy places (Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc). If you have the Roadtrippers app, you can locate most Mom n Pop diners with relative ease. It also comes in handy if you pay attention to Twitter…people (like myself) are always posting info about hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have some of the best food you’ll find anywhere, and is also well within most everyone’s budget. That bag of cheap donuts will only last for so long in the summer heat. You won’t have to eat that fast food garbage, either, unless you like that sort of thing. One more thing: all of those cheap places you could eat at in Vegas are a thing of the past….$16.95 for a steak dinner is crazy. Don’t…just don’t…it’s not worth it. Now that we have that covered, it’s time to move on.
Lodging: We all know hotel and motel rates are going up, even for the roach motels. However, there are still some decent places to stay at, that aren’t bug/rodent.critter-infested. You’ll have to do a little bit of homework to find them, but it will save you some headaches. If you’re cruising Route 66, there are hundreds of well-maintained motels that have been around since people first started getting their kicks. Most of them still have their original neon signage, and still have that old road trip look and feel. Some even have plenty of antique vehicles, as well as old gas pumps and other signs. That usually spells “photo-op” to most. Always check reviews using the mobile app. If a particular motel only has a few negative reviews (mainly someone was pissed because of no in-room coffee maker, or no hair dryer), then it’s usually a pretty safe bet it will be a decent place. Obviously if you see a dozen or more bad write-ups, you may want to look for other lodging for the night. Again, do your homework….I can’t stress that enough.
National Parks, and other attractions: In case you haven’t heard by now, entrance fees at most National Parks will be rising….by quite a bit, especially during peak times. A lot of them will be busy to the point where you may encounter long lines of traffic waiting to get in. Do some research to see which parks have lower visitor counts, not to mention some you haven’t been to. The extra driving may well be worth it. As for amusement parks, and other attractions that draw big crowds, you may be better off avoiding those altogether. Cheesy tourist traps are always best left alone.
Fuel: Gas and diesel prices are on the rise, again….and there are a few ways you can save at the pump. Pilot/Flying J has a rewards card you can get in-store, and you’ll save $.03/gallon. For the most part, they usually have the lowest prices…though other chains may have competitive pricing.
Safety Equipment: Fuses, Flares, Triangles. Nobody likes to break down anywhere, at any time…but, it happens. Be prepared. Bottled water, snacks, flashlight, CB radio, and a first aid kit should be in your vehicle at all times. Some people either take these items for granted, or just don’t seem to think they need them. In most states, the highway patrol monitors CB channel 9. That’s the designated emergency channel in most states. A standard CB radio has a five mile range, so there’s a good chance a state trooper will hear your transmission faster than a phone call….especially in the middle of nowhere. You can usually pick up an inexpensive unit at most truck stops for around $40. A decent antenna will run about $20. Pretty good investment, if you ask me.
With those things in mind, hopefully you will be better prepared for a fun trip…also uneventful (unless you happen to see a UFO…then a camera will come in handy, too).
I’ll write more on this in the near future, so stay tuned.
Until next time, Happy Trails!