Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking a Budget Road Trip: Part 1: The Basics

What is a "road trip"?

I define "road trip" to mean:

A trip one takes in a personal motor vehicle that includes:
  • Overnight stops in three or more locations; and
  • Considerable driving distance between the overnight stops. 

I leave the definition of "considerable" to the driver. For some, considerable might mean two hours; to others, it might mean eight.

2006 road trip to Nova Scotia: Camp Meade, Vermont

What is a "budget trip"? 

Definition: A trip that I can afford.

Afford means I have the money on hand, and its not from my emergency or long-term savings accounts. It's OK if I need to charge some trip expenses, but only if I know I'll be able to pay the charges in full after I return from the trip.

These are what consume a road trip budget:
  • Lodging
  • Gasoline
  • Restaurants
  • Alcohol consumption, if any
  • Admissions and activity fees

Below are general tips I follow to manage my road trip budget:  
  • Use lodging that costs $70 or less per night, though I always strive for $50. 
  • Eat in a restaurant only once per day, occasionally twice. Go picnic-style for my other meals. 
  • In a restaurant, drink water instead of soda, iced tea, or alcohol.
  • Bring my own alcohol, if any.
  • Avoid souvenir purchases.
  • Choose and ration my splurge activities carefully.
  • Choose my travel partners carefully. By this I mean: Select a travel partner whose definition of "budget" is similar to mine. 

I'll talk about some of the above in more detail, later.

2006 road trip to Nova Scotia: Cape Breton bakery

Up next: Part 2: Lodging

Go to the Taking a Budget Road Trip page.

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