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  1. Default San Diego to Boston and Home via Montana

    Late this summer 2012, I will start a road/surf trip from San Diego, CA to East Texas, and then follow the coast from Louisiana all the way up to Boston, surfing at every beach I can (including in NYC and on Lake Ontario), then back West through Chicago and out to Montana, returning to San Diego in fall 2012. I'll be gone about 3-6 months, and sleeping in my "road trip modified" '93 Honda Civic (more on that later). Anyway, I'll have about $3000 in expenses, and I'm wondering the best (safest) way to handle money on the trip. Do I leave it in the bank, and use a debit card, or do I wear a money belt, or hide cash in different parts of the car? I would appreciate any ideas and experience that you have. Thanks very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You'll Need a Good Bit More

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You're looking at around $1200 just in gas, another $1500 (minimum) to $3000 in food, and $1800 (camping for three months) to $4000 (modest motels for six months). So first off, I don't see where $3000 is going to be sufficient for your planned trip. But in general, carrying a wad of cash is simply a bad idea. Your best bet is a credit card, and either automatic payments, access to the web to make payments on-line, or somebody at home to take care of the bills as they come in. This way you can continue to charge expenses if (when) your money runs out.


  3. Default


    Thanks for your response.

    Believe it or not, I can eat well on $10 a day, or less. That means a three month trip costs me $900 for food, or less if I find some cheap burritos on the road. The Recession hit my business hard, and I had to learn to eat for less. I've found some vegetarian options that are very nutritious and very cheap.

    You're right about gas though. My gas budget is based on $4 a gallon, which at 10,000 miles for the whole trip and 30 mpg in the Civic comes to about $1,333.00, and bumps up to about $1500.00 at $4.50 per gallon.

    As far as lodging, I avoid that cost because my '93 Honda Civic car is modified to allow me to sleep comfortably in the car at truck plazas on the Interstates. To allow me to sleep in the car, I removed the back seat and front passenger seat, and built a plywood platform in the trunk space that stretches from the trunk up and into the back seat area and into where passenger seat was, and this allows me to lay an air mattress down on that platform for comfortable sleeping in the car.

    As far as money goes, sounds like you recommend leaving the cash at home in the bank and tapping it as needed with a debit card. My only problem with that is that my bank does not have branches throughout the US, and I'll end up paying lots of ATM fees. Perhaps I should put the money for the trip in a bank that has lots of atms all over the US so I avoid the atm charges. Does that sound right?

    Thanks again for your comments. USA/Road&SurfTripper

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Needs a revision

    My gas budget is based on $4 a gallon,
    Those days are all behind us now! To be safe, you need to plan on fuel prices around the $5.25 mark, I've already seen prices approaching $4.99 on the west coast and failing any effective "Wag the Dog" price controls, I'd be willing to bet that much of the coastal areas will be enjoying $5.00 + pricing for the next few months.


  5. Default


    You're probably right. Thanks for the reality check.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default More reality.

    Like you, my travels are executed on a shoestring. And like you, my vehicle is set up for sleeping with mattress, etc., as well as a small fridge/freezer to keep my perishables fresh. And I too use truck stops and travel plazas extensively.

    But let me assure you, there is no way you are going to want to do this day in day out for three months. After three weeks, you will be hankering for some place to spread out and relax. My suggestion is that you schedule regular stays in motels or hostels. These can be quite cheap. Do your research. This is a great resource for using truck stops, and this is probably the most comprehensive site on the internet, for hostels. Look out for the hotel / motel discount coupon booklets along the way. These can contain some really good deals.

    There will be places where travel plazas are not as prolific and / or welcoming of RVs overnighting. These are the best places to plan alternatives.

    There are other obvious omissions in your budget. How much have you allocated to other expenses, such as showers? These can vary from as little as $5, to as much as $15. Similarly there will be relatively regular visits to laundromats. And how much do you have set aside for car maintenance and repairs? You can't drive 10.000 miles without regular oil changes, and having the tyres and brakes looked at. Hopefully there will be nothing more major, but it pays to be prepared.

    Yeah!! even on a shoestring, it's expensive, living on the road.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Debit Card

    For the use of the debit card, that would be as-needed, so you shouldn't incur significant ATM fees. You wouldn't be necessarily using an ATM every time you used the card.

    My preferred method is to use a credit card for things such as gas, lodging, etc. You might be able to get a cash back bonus or something similar, too. Doing this in your case would mean using online bill pay, so if you don't have a means to do that, this wouldn't work for you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    What you can do to get cash with a debit card with no fees is go buy something at Walmart and get cash back. They will give you up to $100 back with no fees from them or your bank. If you are going to be buying groceries and various supplies anyway, this is a convenient way to do it. Once you get out of SoCal, you will find that most Walmarts are Supercenters with full grocery.

  9. Default Sleeping in Car - San Diego, CA to Boston, Boston to Montana, Montana to San Diego

    Late in the summer of 2012, I'm taking a road/surf trip from San Diego, CA to Boston, Boston to Montana, and Montana to San Diego. To save money, I've modified my '93 Honda Civic so I can sleep in it. To allow me to sleep in the car, I removed the back seat and front passenger seat, and built a plywood platform in the trunk space that stretches from the trunk up and into the back seat area, and into where passenger seat was.

    THE QUESTION IS what sort of material should I lay down on the plywood platform to sleep on. I've checked out a self-inflating air mattress at REI, called the "Camp Bed," which is 3 and one-half inches thick when inflated, and comes in a 78" version that is good for my 6'3" body; but the plywood platform that I built narrows as the trunk area opens into the old back seat area, and the platform "dog legs" as it enters the area where the front passenger seat was; so it will take some twisting of the the air mattress to get it to fit so that I can lie down fully extended, and I'd like to avoid all that twisting of the air matress. Please give me any ideas you may have as to what sort of material I can lay down on the plywood platform to sleep on. Is there some company that might make a foam cushion for me that would fit the shape of the plywood platform?

    Finally, for those of you who might consider sleeping in your car, this RoadTripAmerica blog has indicated in that past that sleeping in Truck Plazas is worth considering. I would add, that if you search on the Internet for the word "Truck Plazas," and the number of the Interstate Highway that you will be traveling on, you can down load or print lists of all the Truck Plazas on that Interstate, and the list will also give you the exit numbers off the Interstate for each specific Truck Plaza; and the 2012 Rand McNally Road Atlas shows you where all the numbered exits are on the Interstate that you are traveling on. This allows us to plan our sleeping spots just like one might get a list of Motel 6's and plan which one to sleep at as a trip proceeds

    Again, I would appreciate any ideas as to what sort of material I can lay down on the plywood platform to sleep on. Ciao. USA/Road&SurfTrip
    Last edited by AZBuck; 03-18-2012 at 06:06 PM. Reason: Please do not start multiple threads for the same trip.

  10. Default

    Many Thanks to Lifemagician, MassTim, and GLC!! USA/Road&SurfTrip

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