My husband and I have been planning this trip for a long time. We’ve been planing to drive across the United States for almost a year! You may ask why? I guess the major reason is for the adventure! I drove across the US as a 12 year old with my family and I have many memories of that trip both good and bad! It will definitely be an adventure and it will also give us the opportunity to scout out the Pacific Northwest, spend some time there and decide if we’d ever want to re-locate.waterfall

Now how are we going to save money on this trip and make it an economical trip? After all we just can’t fill up the car and take off! First we had to make sure our car was ready. Once we knew the car was ready for such a long trip we planned out our route. We plan to stay with friends and family along the way. Not only will it be fun to catch up with folks we haven’t seen in a long time but you can’t beat the price of a free room!

We also planned to save on food. We packed a cooler before we left full of healthy snacks like carrot sticks and apples. Along the way we plan to stop at local grocery stores and purchase sandwich stuff for lunches. When I was a kid and we went on family trips my mother would give us candy! Bad habit, as now I want to eat candy in the car! Not a healthy choice! I also packed a supply of my homemade granola. A few individual containers of yogurt and some homemade granola are the perfect snack.Granola and yogurt

Before we left we had our route mapped out. Using your smartphone or online maps and guidebooks it is easy to plan a route ahead of time. We know how many days we have for travel and where we want to go. However, we don’t want to spend hours in the car racing to our destination. And we want to see sites along the way. By allowing for sightseeing the trip will be much more enjoyable.Wall Drug Signs - 300 in state of SD

Before we left I also made any necessary reservations. Driving across country is tiring and it was nice to know we had a place to stay at the end of the day! This was especially important because we are traveling with a small dog! We have to find hotels that are pet friendly. I was quite surprised that this is relatively easy to do, so many hotels are now pet friendly!

It was fun to research attractions along the way. The Internet, guidebooks and our smartphone are all good resources for finding places that we don’t want to miss.

Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore

Most important was creating a realistic budget. Gas is a major expense and using Internet mapping to determine our approximate gas bill  gives us an idea of that cost.

Food costs will be a little trickier as we don’t want to eat out all the time. Having a dog with us limits where we can eat. We’ll have to resort to take out or creating simple meals we can pick up at a store. Having a small cooler in the car makes this easier.

We also  budgeted for emergencies, souvenirs and any costs for tolls or attractions.Frugal tip, prudent living

Once the car was taken  care of and we prepared ourselves for traveling with a small dog, we packed the car and were ready for our adventure! So far we’ve had a great four days on the road and have made it to Keystone, South Dakota where we will spend the next month before heading to the west coast. So far Riley has been a wonderful traveling companion and the car has done it’s job! Stay tuned for further adventures!

Riley enjoys these pet friendly hotels!

Riley enjoys these pet friendly hotels!

8 comments on “Saving Money On a Long Road Trip

Kevin J. McCarthy on October 6, 2015 10:06 pm

Use several large paper clips and get a reciept for everything & keep them in order(mini file cabinet). This tracks time, date, expense, to be logged later if you plan to tell the story. Log your odometer on these, cause 1 up & down California Coast Trip was over 9 Thou. Miles.
If you pay for gas in cash, count out several dollars in coins to add to the bill to keep getting rid of same. This helped me in Canada to help me turn in all my Canadian money before returning to The USA.
Take an extra car key and safety wire it several times into the front grill. I did not want to be stuck in LA by myself with a broken or lost car key.
Wear a nylon or leather money belt (every day) with several hundred dollar bills folded up. Enough for an Airline Ticket Home. Also the cash can be used for emergency auto repair. Some repair shops will even lower the bill to remove the credit card surcharge.
Auto Repair: I had the best luck (In my case Nissan) with Dealerships. You will pay more but you will be back on the road like a NASCAR or Indy Pit Crew did the work. Parts Ordering is ASAP, and The most talented mechanic will work on the most difficult auto.
Be very careful of Road Debris. Coolers, Lawn Chairs, I even drove over a 2X4 at Texas highway speed that was too long to drive around. It came out from under a Tractor Trailer. I saw a 5 Gallon Bucket that empty or filled would destroy your front end.
Not all gasstations in the mid west or south are open 24hrs. And the only place found on Sunday to do Oil Changes was WalMart.
A fleese sleeping bag is good for short eye resting and covering up luggage & valuables. For Safety at night, only stop for breaks at State Welcome Centers and Large Crowded Rest Areas.
And Most of All: “Have A Great Time!”

Nancy Wolff on October 7, 2015 2:12 am

Kevin,
Thanks for the great tips! I should have you write a guest post for me! 🙂

Kevin J. McCarthy on October 7, 2015 4:07 am

Your Welcome. Best Traveling Accessory for me, The Loves Truck Stop Giant RoadWarrior Travel Mug. Pilot/Flying J has the 64 Oz(Half Gallon!) Either Mug for $6.99, that includes Soda/Juice/Ice Tea Fill-Up. Every Time I got a Gass Fill-Up they kept giving me Ice for Free. That Ice would last 2 Days in the mug, in the car, in the Florida Sun! That Mug has enough Ice Water For You, Your Co-Pilot, And The Dog. This mug is a Hand Held Cooler! No Wonder Truckers Love Them.

Anne on October 7, 2015 5:39 pm

Thanks for the tips, sounds like an amazing adventure! A trip across the country is on my bucket list. Have fun.

Donna on October 8, 2015 3:12 am

Sounds like great fun! I would love to do this someday:). Looking forward to reading more adventures.

Nancy Wolff on October 9, 2015 1:19 am

Donna,
I am so blessed to have this opportunity, I’m just amazed at the beauty we’ve seen so far!

almas on November 9, 2015 4:04 pm

Hi Nancy,
I am reading about your trip and I am looking forward to do some day when God wishes. please send interesting photos etc of your trip and have fun ok. We are looking forward for all the interesting news from your end.
thanks
almas

Nancy Wolff on November 9, 2015 7:11 pm

Thank Alma,
Stay tuned as we continue to share the highlights of our trip!

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