I like to travel, but try to travel light. Quite often when I am traveling by car I have a destination in mind and there is not a lot of time to stop and set up camp along the way. These tips are good for day trips and long distance travel.
If I am not able to stay with friends or family along the way an inexpensive motel is usually the best option. Motel 6 usually beats the price of even the cheapest motels. They are clean and consistent.
Stock up on healthy snacks, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and nuts. I usually travel with a jar of peanut butter and jelly and some bread, rice cakes, ground coffee, a coffee pot (to make some while at a motel or campground) a thermos for the coffee, a bottle of juice (you can stop and buy some fresh along the way.) Depending on how serious I am about my coffee I sometimes carry the campstove, a pan to heat water or soup, and a coffee cone and filters. That way I can stop at a rest area and make another pot.
It's usually good to stop and eat at least one good meal every day. Denny's is a good value and they are all across the country. You can just get soup and salad which is light and good for traveling and usually very reasonable. It is also a good idea to ask locals about the best places to eat.
If possible travel with a cooler, even a small one will help you save money. You can then bring mayo, butter or margarine, cheese, and keep your drinks cool. If staying at a motel, they often have refrigerators so you can refreeze your blue ice or refill containers with ice at their ice machine.
Buy several gallons of drinking water to bring with you and refill smaller water bottles. At $1 plus a 16 oz bottle of water it gets expensive fast and you need a lot of liquids when traveling.
For thrifty car air conditioning, keep a spray bottle with plain water in it. You can mist each other while driving. It really helps cool you off when you don't have AC or don't want to use it to get better mileage. If you do have AC and use it, use the half setting if you have one or turn it off when you are just cool enough leaving the fan on to blow around the cool air. Turn it back on when you get too hot.
White cotton long sleeved shirts are great for keeping your arms from getting too much sun while driving the car. I keep several with me anytime the weather is warm because I sunburn easily. There is nothing more miserable than driving along without being able to keep your arm out of the sun.
Traveling by car can be very thrifty (if gas doesn't cost too much.) Now is the season. A little preparation can help to have a thrifty trip.
About The Author: Susan Sanders-Kinzel is the editor of The Coupon Clipper, Reader's Request and Thrifty Gift Digest at ThriftyFun!
I don't know how thrifty it will be to travel by car this year with the price of gas! These are none the less some good ideas. We've been married almost 30 years and we've always traveled with a thermal jug of iced water. We'd much prefer to drink that than sugary pop and we don't stop and buy any at fast food places. When I grew up, my Mom always made us snacks on road trips....it is very easy to bring a stack of saltines, a knife and a jar of peanut butter! Fresh fruit is also good and a bag of homemade popped popcorn!
Another thing I'd like to add....coffee is definitely important to us when we travel. Most places we stay these days provide a coffeemaker and supplies or it's free in the lobby or there's a free breakfast spread. If we go somewhere where we know we won't have availble then I bring a hot pot and those coffee singles, plus I even have a 4 cup drip maker. It's nice to have that first cup of coffee upon wakening and not have to get dressed just to get coffee!
Yes gas will be expensive this summer, but other travel will be even more.
I always loved taking food with us when we traveled. Just a pull-out along side the road gives a break and a chance to really enjoy the sight of the horizon (a sunrise---- or sunset) and a pretty green field or canyon or river winding. This is how I remember the trips TO see my grandparents. (Grandpa's farm is another exciting story)
When I went with my 3 children on day trips, we packed Frisbees as plates, got bread and peanut butter or whatever was on sale, and would drink the crappy but cheap Sunny Dee. With twin teen aged boys, I could never get them full on McDonalds or any other fast food place without risking the mortgage. Our trips were often unplanned but just day trip. We woulld be home for bedtime but had a hoot while out and about discovering the area where we lived. And after lunch, they got to play with the Frisbees.
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