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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!