Lifestyle

Taking A Frugal Road Trip

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Hey everyone! Things are looking a bit grim in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Inflation is high, the stock market is crashing, and a recession is looming. We are all feeling a bit poorer these days. Even with these problems, many of us are splurging on travel. The last 2 years were so depressing and isolating. We are determined to have fun this summer, no matter what.

For us, we’re taking a road trip to visit friends and families in California. This trip was put off twice already. Our families are all getting older and we need to see them. We can’t put it off anymore. We’re hitting the road, even with the sky-high price of gasoline and hotels.

However, we’ll try our best to keep it somewhat frugal. That’s our nature so we’re looking for ways to save on this road trip. I’ll share how we keep it cheap. Let me know if you have any tips.

Save on sleeping

Oh wow. The price of a room is insane. Motels cost about $100-150 per night. Moderate hotels run around $150 to $200. I didn’t look at nicer hotels because $200/night is already a lot more expensive than what I’m willing to pay. These prices look high even for California. Inflation is rough on the wallet. Here are some ways to save.

  • Stay with families and friends. We’re going to stay with families on this road trip. It isn’t as convenient or private as a hotel room, but we’ll save over $1,000 by staying in the guest room. This is actually good because we haven’t seen them for a while. It’ll give the kids a chance to get better acquainted.
  • Camping. This is a great way to save some money if you’re visiting for more than a few days. The problem is you’ll have to bring camping equipment. But check out the next two bullets.
  • Cabins and Yurts. I love staying in cabins and yurts. We’ll stay in a yurt for one night on this trip and it is very affordable. The park system hasn’t jacked up the price as much as hotels and motels. It’ll cost us $48/night + $8 processing fee this year. It can be difficult to find a vacancy, though. Most cabins and yurts are booked up months in advance. We got lucky.  
Last time we stayed in a yurt.
  • Camping in your car. Another option is to sleep in your car at a campground. This is only convenient if you have the right vehicle. We can fold down the backseats in our minivan and 2 people can sleep back there pretty comfortably. Oh, we got a couple of narrow folding mattresses. You need something comfortable to sleep on.
  • Use points to book hotels. Some hotel credit cards have great signup bonuses. I got a bunch of points from IHG. I’ll use them when we go to Thailand and the Maldives later. If you book 3 nights with points, you’ll get another night free. It’s a nice deal. The IHG card has a great sign-up bonus right now – 140,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Check out the IHG card if you need some free hotel rooms in the future.
  • The IHG
  • More sleeping in your car. If you really need to save some money, you can sleep in your car even more often. You can park at Walmart overnight. I haven’t done this, though.

You can get more tips about sleeping in your car from Jim @ Route to Retire. They are on a long road trip around the USA.

Save on eating

Food can get expensive on the road if you aren’t careful. Of course, you could eat fast food, but that’s not very healthy. They probably aren’t that cheap either. I haven’t gone to a fast-food place for a long time. Well, we indulge in fast food when we go on a road trip, but just once or twice per trip.

Actually, the only tip I have here is to buy some food from the grocery store deli. They are more affordable and you can find healthier choices. When my parents took us on a road trip, they used to get the whole roast chicken, salad, and a loaf of bread. That’s plenty for a family of 5. I usually pick up some sandwiches, trail mix, fruits, and snacks these days.

Save at the pump

Oh man, I heard gas in California cost like $7-8 per gallon. Filling up will be painful on this trip. I wrote a whole post about saving at the pump. Check it out!

Alright, that’s all I got today. Are you going on a road trip this year? Do you try to be frugal or just splurge a bit.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow along with our travel. This summer should be a lot of fun.

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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