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  1. Default First Road Trip Help?

    I've been planning, along with two of my friends, to go on a road trip before the end of the year (probably at the beginning of December). We're all pretty poor so we're trying to think of places we could go and only spend around $100 dollars in gas each. We can travel in my car about 2,000 miles with that money. We've considered adding another person to the party to make the gas more affordable, but we probably won't do it unless the money is necessary.

    We're content with doing pretty much anything as long as it's cheap and fun (be it the worlds biggest ball of yarn, local bands, fairs, etc.). I want to spend about $60 for on recreation so anything costing $40+ will probably be out of the question. I'm not sure how much cash my friends have, but I'd be willing to bet that they can scrounge together $60 as well. I'd be willing to spot them some cash if there was any specific event going on that you know about. The amount of time we spend doing these things doesn't really matter. We do want to drag it out for as long as possible though.

    I live in/near Chattanooga, Tennessee so I feel like a lot of what I wanted to do is out of the question (Las Vegas! :P). Are there any places that you'd recommend within my general mileage? Or is there any advice you'd like to give me about this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default More than fuel

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've left out 2 pretty big elements of the Roadtrip budget equation. You're going to have to eat during this trip, and I assume you'll also need to sleep. Those things are going to cost money too. And if you're only looking at a $160 each budget, that will start to put a hole in your funds pretty quickly.

    So with that, I think you've put the cart a bit before the horse. What I would suggest is that all of you get together and figure out exactly how much money you'll have to work with, how long you'd like to be gone, and what you are going to do for food and lodging. Then I'd get out a map and start looking at places that could possibly be within your reach (and you're right, you'd need a whole lot more money to get to vegas). I'd also suggest taking the Roadtrip Compatability Quiz, which will help you focus in on what you guys really want to do during this trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Food budget

    Depending on how you eat now, and how you fund it, this can be a wash. I mean, if you live on your own and are already buying your own food, you can eat the same way on the road and, thus, this isn't really an increase in your regular budget. Stock up a cooler with stuff from home and then stop at grocery stores along the way to replenish and you won't really be spending much, if any, more on food than you would at home. Of course, this means no eating out along the way unless you can survive on fast-food $1 menu items.

  4. Default

    I'm not really worried about the cost of food which is why I didn't mention it. Our entire budget isn't $160. We're probably going to live off a lot of sandwiches which means material cost is virtually nothing. Here's the type of budget I'm thinking about...

    $300 - Gas - 2000 miles
    $30 - Food (most of it free)
    $0.00 - Lodging
    $180 - Recreation

    My cars back seat pulls down and connects to the trunk where with luggage one person could still sleep comfortably. The other two of us planned on sleeping in the front with the chairs tilted all the way back. We could reserve money for a one-night motel trip if needed, but we'd rather not.

    This puts us at $170 each. We might be able to do $200 each, but it's too early to tell.

    Money isn't really the hardest part about the trip though. The hardest part for me is finding out where to go. I want to see a list of events going on in 'parts' of the country. All I can seem to find is websites that list events going on in particular cities. I'd have to type in every city just to know I wasn't missing anything.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Free food?

    Raiding the parent's pantry?

    I'm unclear how long your roadtrip is planned for but it's unreasonable to think that you'll get by for free. $30 sounds low as well.

    I typically raid my own pantry and then stock up at someplace like Costco before I go with other road food. I'll usually also get a case of water and a case of Diet Coke because I need my fix, too, even though water is healthier and far better if you're traveling in the summer heat to hydrate your body. Of course, that shouldn't be an issue in December.

    Anyway, even with all of that, I have to replenish some things. This is partially because some things don't keep well without refrigeration so I limit the items like that and only buy them in somewhat smaller quantities to be replenished every few days so I don't have to worry about food poisoning if I inadvertently neglect to keep my ice chest cold enough for long-term storage of foods that spoil. And I don't want to worry about a bunch of squishable things like bread so I buy small loaves. With three people, even a large loaf will be eaten quickly if you are living on sandwiches.

    I just think $30 or less seems like an unreasonable budget. If you're only going for 3-4 days, it would probably suffice. I usually budget for myself about $10-15 per day for food on top of what I'm bringing with me. I don't always spend it but sometimes I do. And I'm known for making a penny squeak.

    I think just buying new cases of beverages at a grocery store, even if bought on sale, will eat up a big chunk of that $30 for three people....for however long your trip is.

    As for your sleeping plans. Again, this is something that young people might be able to handle for a short trip. But, really, how big is your car? Can someone sleep comfortably in the backseat? If they can, can they do it when the front seats leaned back? Many of us here do some car sleeping while traveling. But night-after-night of this, especially if you can't really get comfortable, just isn't going to cut it after awhile. If people aren't sleeping well, the trip can turn bad real quick as people get crabby. I think you need to budget some alternative plans if this doesn't work out.

    Again, this is something that you might be able to do for a weekend but, really, for a week? For longer? I just don't see it turning out well for more than a couple of nights.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Oh, where to go?

    I'm unclear on what you're looking for. But, in my experience, most state tourism websites list festivals and events within their state. They don't list all of them but they do a pretty good job of covering most things of interest. Of course, I haven't visited each and every state tourism website so this might not be true for each state.

    I suggest you google "(state name) tourism" and you should find the main tourism websites for those states and get a lot of the information you're seeking without having to go to individual towns/cities.

  7. Default

    Maybe I am being a bit optimistic about food expenses. This is the first road trip for all of us and I'm probably looking at it through rose-colored glasses.

    I have a pretty big trunk and we'll be traveling with a cooler and a couple outfits for each of us, so space will probably not a be a problem. We'll have to talk about it though. They might be willing to work overtime for better lodging which would better situation for all of us.

    I have enough money to pay all of our ways, but it's really my savings in case of emergencies and I'd rather not be broke at the end of this. I'm optimistic, but if worse comes to worst I'll have cash available.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default rookie mistakes

    Its not uncommon to strongly underestimate just how much things cost, especially if you haven't been on the road before.

    Its also easy to say on paper that you'll be able to comfortably sleep with 3 people in a car for more than a day or that you'll only eat sandwiches you've made from home. The problem is, sandwiches get old pretty fast and its hard to get a good night sleep laying back in a bucket seat. If you discover this while you're on the road, you either have to destroy your budget or choose to be miserable. I want a roadtrip to be enjoyable, and boxing yourself into a corner by under budgeting you can be asking for trouble.

    While it sound great to go as far as your money can take you, I think you'll be better off finding a fun event or location that's a little bit closer than your 2000 mile limit. I can't tell you what you'd find fun, since you haven't told us what your interest are, but I think worrying about finding that fun, more than trying to get as much distance as you can is going to really help you have a better trip.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Sleeping arrangements

    The thought of "sleeping with the luggage" doesn't sound especially comfortable at all. I have a small station wagon, and that has just about enough room to sleep one person comfortably. I honestly don't know if there is a normal passenger vehicle, car or truck, that would sleep three people comfortably.

    I agree with Michael that you should look closer to home, and you could then restructure the budget to fit in a place to stay. A good night's sleep can make the difference between an ok day and a great one when you're on the road.

    I would also recommend splitting up the cost rather than you paying for everybody. You'll all feel better about that when the time comes for your trip.

  10. Default

    While searching for events coming up I came across a couple bands that I enjoy playing in Philadelphia around the end of November/beginning of December.

    I did the google maps directions search just to see what cities I'd be going through and how many miles I'd be driving. If I went to Philadelphia l'd drive straight through Roanoke and Washington D.C. without adding any mileage to the trip. It'd be about 750 miles, so that leaves me plenty of cushion should something go wrong and I'm sure there's plenty to do in at least Washington.

    If you look at the google maps search for Chattanooga TN to Philadelphia you'll see the general places I'd be going through.

    I could hit all of these cities at 870 mi:

    Knoxville, TN
    Johnson, TN
    Roanoke, VA
    Richmond, VA
    Washington D.C.
    Columbia, MD
    Baltimore, MD
    Philadelphia, PA

    If I left out Richmond I'd pretty much just hit all of the other cities on the way to Philadelphia.

    If anyone has any experience with these cities I'd love to hear about it. I'm going to check the cities attractions online now and see what I can find.

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