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  1. Default Ideas for cheap lodging....

    I am planning a long term solo road trip. I, like most people, want to do it as cheaply as possible. Gas and food are musts, but i can scrimp big time on lodging. Some of my ideas include sleeping in my car, camping with a tent and cot, and staying at cheap motels. Ill probably end up using a combination of the three. I figure that will help me stay on the road for a while.

    Any vets got any other suggestions? Or maybe you have some tips on the three things im thinking about?

    Oh yeah, this is solo, so has safety been an issue in your travels?

    Thanks

  2. Default

    Hi Kevin --

    Search the board for past camping posts. Judy in particular has posted quite a few which you ought to read.

    In my opinion, camping is probably the best way to save money on a longish road trip. Camping costs run in my experience from $15-30 per night for a tent camp site, which saves $30-60 per night (or about 1-2 tanks of gas). A lot of good campgrounds have showers and laundry facilities and perhaps even a swimming pool or kitchen area available.

    For food when I'm car camping, I'll typically hit up a grocery store in a largish town (or a CostCo or a WalMart or the like) and stock up a dry food box and an ice chest. I'll make sandwiches or have fruit and cheese for lunch, and something simple for dinner which I can make quickly and easily at a campsite. Breakfast is usually oatmeal and fruit and coffee (just make hot water and mix with instant...). The one thing I've noticed to save money doing that is to buy a big 2.5 gal container of water, stash it in the back of my SUV and use it to replenish smaller bottles of water. The 2.5 gal of water costs me about as much as 1, name brand one-liter bottle.

    I don't recommend sleeping in your car -- you'll want to get out of it and stretch out for pyschological reasons after a few days, plus it'll be more comfortable in a tent. (Besides you don't need to unpack and repack the car if you use a tent). I have a good camping pad ($20) and a sleeping bag and a reasonable tent ($50-70) and a camp chair ($5) for basic camping supplies. Add in a camping stove ($20) and fuel, a pan and teapot and bowl and spoon out of my kitchen and I'm pretty much ready to go.

    To stretch your traveling dollar, you might consider a couple of other things. One which I use is to avoid tourist traps; that is to avoid the big, glittery pay-per-entrance tourist items and do a lot of walking and hiking on my own. For example, I'd rather take a morning day hike through the woods somewhere rather than pay to ride the bus and have a tour guide point out the same things to me. I do have to admit its a rule I follow more in spirit than in strict rule, as there are some things that you just have to pay to get in and enjoy. Another is to look for group discounts or longer-term savings. For example, if you're going to be visiting 3 or more national parks, get their annual pass. Similarly, make sure you ask for the AAA rate (if you are a AAA member) at any hotel or attraction with an entrance fee.

  3. #3

    Default

    Even the cheapest Motels (that still have some safety) are around 20-30 for a night. I would suggest Camping and a mix of car sleeping. Just make sure you will be able to make enough room for a comfortable sleep in a car. If you have tons of bags/boxes in the car, you might be better off @ a campsite evry night. Although another problem is the convience of camp sites, they are sometimes 20-30 miles out of the way. After a while those extra miles can add up to alot of wasted Gas money, compared to sleeping in your car not far off your route. Just dont be completly stupid, which I assume you wont be, when picking where to park your car overnight. The Best plan would probly be to find all the campsites along your route ahead of time, and when you get to the turnoff decide if time and money can spare it...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default One more option

    I'll throw one more option out there for you: Hostels.

    I like them when I'm traveling solo, because they are cheap, often in excellent locations, and they give you a chance to meet other like minded travelers - which is always nice after spending hours in a car alone.

    There are some downsides; Sharing a dorm room isn't for everyone, parking is often limited, and if you are traveling with more than one person, it is usually cheaper to get a cheap motel.

    Its one more option to add to your list. Otherwise, I think camping is often the best and cheapest option. Sleeping in your car is ok, but I agree that after a long day on the road, getting out of the car is more refreshing than you can imagine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default My 2 cents

    Hi Kevin!

    Here's an article you should read and a post regarding cheap lodging. My favourite place to sleep in a car in terms of safety is a 24/7 truck stop parking. There's always people around and there's a good chance no one will bother you. In the morning, you can have a hot shower, breakfast and a cup of coffee and fill up on gas and food before you hit the road again.

    Unlike Michael, I'm not very fond of hostelling since I don't like to sleep in a room with people I don't know, but you may be more comfortable with that idea. Private rooms in hostels are often more expensive than cheap motels. When I'm too tired to tour the various motels in a particular town, I look for a Motel 6 or any other cheap chain. Otherwise, I like to browse through the Mom & Pop operations. In Canada, my favourite type of accomodation is B&B. I believe they're usually much cheaper than in the US and you often get homemade food, local color and make some friends.:o) Plus, in some areas, chains can be hard to find!

    Good luck!
    Gen

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Thinking of hostels, at which I stay frequently when travelling in North America, check out this site.

    Combine them with camping and your accommodation costs should be minimal. In 2007, my average was below $30 over 90 nights.

    Lifey who does not allow her lack of resources to stop her travelling

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Thinking of hostels, at which I stay frequently when travelling in North America, check out this site.

    Combine them with camping and your accommodation costs should be minimal. In 2007, my average was below $30 over 90 nights.

    Lifey who does not allow her lack of resources to stop her travelling
    Thanks for the resource! I was looking for a good $30/night place in San Francisco, and found a nice Hostel.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default safe sleeping

    Welcome to the RTA Forum,morningland!

    Your advice is very good for the most part, however, I would strongly disagree with your idea about sleeping at rest areas. There are places to sleep in your car safely, but rest areas usually are not one of them. They are usually poorly lit and poorly patroled. I also don't know of any rest area where you can legally set up a tent. If you want to sleep in your car, then someplace like a truck stop is a much safer bet. I will also say that I will gladly pay $20 for a campsite to have a place to set up a tent, and have some space to move around at the end of a long day on the road, and often have a shower available the next morning. I've slept in my car, and doing it occationally on a solo trip is fine, but I've never found a way to comfortably sleep 2 people in an average car, and proper rest is very key to having a good trip.

    In addition to BLM Lands, National Forest lands are also often a good place to camp for free or a very small fee. However, in both of those cases, there are only specific areas where camping is legal, which doesn't work with every trip.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Bad Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by morningland

    You can sleep for free in your car by taking advantage of our nations "rest areas"...Some states have different rules but in general, you are allowed to sleep in at least your car as long as you don't hang around for more then 24 hours.
    I'm sorry, but this is just flat out wrong. At least 35 states prohibit overnight parking in rest areas, let alone "hanging around for 24 hours." Look, I have done this, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a routine way/place to spend the night. Not only is it illegal far more often than not, but the sleep you get will be far from the best.

    AZBuck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by morningland View Post
    ....There are ALWAYS people sleeping in their cars at rest areas so it is not flat wrong.
    It does not follow that just because "..There are ALWAYS people sleeping in their cars at rest areas.." that it is not wrong.

    A valid argument (point) cannot be based on a false premise, and the above is a false premise.

    One may just as well say, there are always people stealing / killing, "so it is not flat wrong".

    Bottom line is, that I too, have in an emergency slept in my car at a rest area, but would have to agree that the majority rest areas do not allow this.

    Lifey who uses more secure ways to save money

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