Hi, first time poster (well, I'm new anyway :p), long-time road tripper.
My longest one was a week and a half. I rarely drive with a destination in mind-- usually it's spur of the moment, get in the car and go, and then turn around at some point when I know I have to get back home (for work or whatever).
Well, I've been egging for a much longer road trip, the kind where I live on the road for an indefinite amount of time. I read somewhere that if you play it smart, living on the road is even cheaper than settling somewhere with an okay job. (This isn't my reason, by the way, just a consideration.)
I've got an okay job. I can save $5,000 (towards a road trip-- this number doesn't include day to day expenses and bills during that time) by the end of March. Realistically speaking, how much would you want to save up for a road trip like this?
Though I don't plan on settling anywhere, I'm resourceful enough to find a job-- I worked retail for six years and LOVED it. I know that retail isn't everything and my resume will probably count for nothing, but I learned enough about handling people to feel confident that I might actually be able to find something, even temporarily. I also sparingly take on freelance web design projects and could (reasonably) get more of those for financial support. (But then of course I'd rely on 100% Internet availability.)
I'm a girl. (Hi.) I don't know any MMA... But I have absolutely no problem with sleeping at rest stops (I have done this on several trips) and in parking lots, or around campsites. I drive a hatchback and am constructing some kind of tent-like thingy to put in the windows while I'm sleeping. I know it's not the absolute safest but I am keen on spending as little as possible to allow the trip to last as long as possible.
I have a friend who took a cross country trip for about $2k in one month but he lived a life of luxury... I mean, he camped a lot, but he also stayed in hotels much more often than I'd be. (I also have friends around the country who are willing to put me up.) I think he also ate a lot more fast & restaurant food than I have in my entire life-- I know how to frugal shop at grocery stores (because of all those years in retail).
I've gone through a lot of the details which I'm sure you all already know in your higher plane of experience so I can get a rough estimate of maybe 3 months on $5k (rough estimate because I left a buffer for potential car repairs, although my new car only has 10k on it which sadly is all commuting miles). But I'm curious what those of you who have been doing this, who (like me) tend to be very thrifty even in everyday life, thought when you read that?
I've gone back a couple pages in this forum to see how many days/how much the road trips have cost and it actually seems like I might be estimating my expenses a little high (there tends to be a $5-700 difference between my estimated totals and their actual totals). I'll probably continue doing this just because you can never be sure, but I guess I am just here without much aim. Sorry about that. I will have $5k and a new camera (gift) by April and I want to follow my dreams. Where do I begin, and how do I know for certain that I have enough saved to embark on something like this?
US only, with the possibility of Canada only if I happen to get my passport renewed before I leave. (cough) I have a friend in Calgary who'd love to see me but it's not exactly a priority.
A vague-ish destination would be Seattle (I'm near DC currently) and I wouldn't be stopping at a lot of national monuments or sight-seeing or anything, although I'd be more likely to take scenic routes over highways. I wouldn't necessarily be going to Seattle and then turning around and coming home; it's more like I'd get to Seattle and then re-evaluate my trip. (Likewise, if I get down to $2k and I'm only halfway across the country or something I'll re-evaluate my trip.)
Food from grocery stores, occasionally Starbucks or local coffee shops, and I do have a book thing so I would probably buy a book from every place I stop as my souvenir (paperback fiction or nonfiction, I'm not talking about one of those huge photographic location books or anything) as well as postcards/stamps to send back home. I'll be journaling & photoblogging and like I said I'll probably have freelance projects anyway so the Interwebs are a must, at least twice a week for work.
As I said, my primary resting points will be rest stops or camp grounds. I don't totally mind getting "rough around the edges" (and I'll probably be cutting my hair short) but I did budget in two cheap motels per month ($80 each though I think I could find less expensive ones). In Girl Scouts we learned how to "shower" in sinks. I'm more worried about the safety of a 27 year old woman on her own sleeping in rest stops. Should I get an angry looking stuffed dog? ;)
I've already seen most of America just from growing up here and having parents who like to travel... Or in any case, I've already seen most of the "historical stuff." Plus I know the US has a LOT more to offer than what I've seen, but since I did grow up right next to a million Civil War battlefields and every class in grade school went to DC for field trips, I've been sort of burnt out when it comes to stuff like that. This is an experience/people trip. I want to have a lot of conversations and sit in coffee shops casually like any other person. I'll have a Nikon with me, but I won't be wearing a fanny pack or walking around with a map in my nose. I'm the kind of person who gets lost and doesn't panic.
I'm probably looking at something vaguely similar to the attached image, although I don't know for sure... I'd like to hit where all my friends live, but they know and I understand that I'm going to end up wherever I end up. ;)
Okay, phew. This got longer than I expected. I usually do spur of the moment trips as I mentioned so I'm not unaware of what it's like out there. Since this is a longer term one I thought that perhaps thinking it through a little bit more and saving up was my best option. I'd ideally like it to be indefinite-- find some way to make money on the road or whatever but (!) I also know that I might stop somewhere and totally fall for it. Seattle is the vague destination because there are book jobs and IT jobs and so if I like it enough it might just be a good fit. (If not I'll move on. :P) If all else fails, I'll just come back home. I'm basically open to anything that happens but I am here because I want to make sure I've got my bases covered. I don't want to leave home and then two days later realize that I totally didn't even think about packing an extra pair of socks so now I have to reach into my expenses and buy some. ;)
Also if anyone has links to blogs from people who have taken trips like this (no real itinerary, solo, possibly female!), please please link me. :) I want to read not just about finances and ways to cut corners, but also just about experiences, some do's and don'ts, whatever else an experienced person might have to offer.
Thanks so much, and I'm sorry if this is too long or in the wrong forum.