I recently took a road trip with a friend--something I hadn't done in years. I'm pretty amazed by how little money we spent compared to what it normally costs me to travel. My five-day vacation only cost me about $250. Here's what that money bought:
-Split cost of gas to drive about 1,000 miles in a car that gets about 20mpg city/30mpg highway
-Two nights in a hostel (spent the other two nights with friends)
-Three low-budget restaurant meals (Thai food, half an expensive hamburger and an Italian deli sandwich)
-A few high-budget picnics (gourmet cheese, gourmet bread, gourmet chocolate)
-Grocery store food and snacks for the rest of the meals
Our trip was based around viewing natural scenery and visiting state parks, so there were no expensive activities to pay for. We didn't have to buy plane tickets, and unlike plane tickets, the cost of gas can be shared. We didn't have to rent a car, because we took mine.
I virtually never pay for lodging when I travel, because I base my vacations around visiting friends, so that expense was actually higher than usual for me.
I took tons of photos, but I don't get them printed anymore because I like viewing them large and backlit on my computer screen better. However, some of the photos I took will probably make great, inexpensive gifts. I also picked up some other gifts on my trip for upcoming birthdays and Christmas (not included in the $250). People always seem to like it when you bring them something unique that you found while traveling.
The road trip had some nonmonetary benefits as well:
-No airport stress
-No being packed into a plane like sardines for hours
-No car rental stress (I always worry about the thing getting damaged, because those new cars are so much more expensive than my ten-year-old car)
-No adjusting to driving a vehicle that's unfamiliar to me
-Ability to take more stuff with me than usual
-Very little stuff carrying required (no lugging it on long walks through the airport)
-Got to sleep with my own pillows (a great source of comfort for me)
-Ability to take stuff home with me without worrying about fitting it into my luggage or complying with airplane regulations
I enjoyed taking a road trip so much that I'm not even excited about using my frequent flyer miles anymore. I am even wondering if it might be worth it to start driving to the more distant places that I usually fly to.
Photo by Jasmic
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