As I mentioned in this recent post, Mr. Frugal Rock and I spent the beginning of the year on the road for a week, hoofing it (not literally) to destinations in Georgia and Florida. With gas prices being so low, and our love of road trips- it made perfect sense for us to drive and avoid the hassle of flying. 2 people, one car, 22 hours of driving (one way), and roughly 1,200 miles. What could possibly go wrong? Surprisingly little, as it turned out!
|A 'sherbet sunrise, during an early start'|
Road trips can be a good alternative for family travel, especially when your family starts growing in number and you have to look at purchasing 3-4 plane tickets. My family is just the two of us, so while ticket prices wouldn't be THAT outrageous, my hypothesis was that we could road trip it for cheaper, while also enjoying the time together for fun and hilarity. To be fair the only thing that probably would talk me out of road trips is if it ever became more expensive than flying, so I clearly already have a 'slant'- but don't worry, I will breakdown our spending for you so you can see for yourself how it compares, and can judge for yourselves.
Cost Break Down:
$200 in gas- this came out almost exact so I rounded it up to $200 for the way there and back. Note: We had ridiculously low gas prices this January, combined with a pretty fuel efficient car, kept gas costs lower than anticipated.
$86 for hotel costs, 1 night on the drive. This one I'm a bit ashamed of- Mr. Frugal Rock was advocating for us sleeping in the car for a few hours and than continuing on our way. But I'll admit, it was unexpectedly cool on our drive south and I wanted a shower. Luxury won over frugality this time!
Total Cost for the Road Trip: $332
*Note, I'm not taking into account our expenses for the remainder of the trip, as in theory they would be about the same, whether we flew or drove, mainly comparing the cost of driving versus flying here!*
Flight Cost Estimator: Using Kayak (a great way to travel cheap), I was able to look for flights on a variety of airlines to try and find the best deals. The flights that matched the dates we wanted to travel ended up being about $300 a person= $600 for us total. There are ways to get cheaper flights, leave on 'off days' avoiding weekends, Mondays or Fridays, and being willing to have multiple stops en route but in viewing this, I am ready to declare the road trip, the frugal winner this time!
|Traveling by car can expose you to some great views!|
1. Bring your own food- the cooler is a must...
One of the things about traveling and vacation is trying new restaurants, so you are probably already eating out more than normal. Why waste your dollars on the fast food/chain places en route? I guarantee that avoiding these places will make you feel better in the long-run as well. For our frugal road trip I stocked our cooler and snack bag with:
-Fresh fruit, grapes, apples and oranges for snacking
-trail mix and granola bars
-peanut butter/jelly and a lot of bread
-fresh veggies and hummus, for wraps
-mozzarella balls, tomatoes and basil for caprese wraps on the go
-made ahead spicy curry chicken salad
2. Avoid hotels when possible...
Obviously, didn't follow my own advice on this one! Ways you can avoid hotels, may be planning your route so that you can stop at a truck stop or camp ground to park the car and get some sleep. You can also check out vacation rental sites or couch crashing options to keep your costs lower. If you have to stop, make sure you call around. When we stopped for the night, we saw 4 hotels on the off ramp, and in calling each found a high variance in pricing between equally nice looking places. It pays to call in advance, even if it's only two minutes in advance.
3. Plan activities for your car ride!
|Local library for the win!|