I just signed up on this Forum, so that I can (hopefully) tap into the "collective wisdom", here!
And "Pre-PS" -- this post is kind of long, per the background seeming at least somewhat pertinent (apologies if it's too much so) -- I'll try to help by "bolding" my actual questions, and maybe replying to myself, with a succinct set of questions. However, some of us - me, included - find detail helpful, to be able to provide the best info ... so hopefully, this post is a good balance.
Thanks very much, in advance, for any and all suggestions!
I'm moving from Northern California (San Jose / San Francisco area) to a little town just south of Atlanta, GA.
Leaving Tomorrow (February 22 - Thursday) - so any input you can give today will be much appreciated!
I'm on a major budget - I recently lost my job, and for reasons I won't bore you with : ) ... am all but destitute, at the moment (and that's not said in a "sob story" way --- it's just what's going on --- move to Georgia is a conscious attempt to dig out of my current hole, per family in that area, decent employment picture there, etc.)
Basically, I'll have about $600 for the trip, and have calculated an estimated budget (with a little intentional "buffer" worked in) as follows:
Hotel - $50/night x 3 = $150
Gas - 2425 mi. x +/- $2.25 (@+/- 24mpg) = Approx. $225-$250
Food / Incidentals = $25/day x 4 = $100
So, it seems I'm looking at about $500 trip cost- and will have about $100 buffer - which is just thin enough to leave me a little nervous.
I have a few questions, related to specifics (below) -- and would also ask for any input you may have, on ways to do a trip like this as cheaply as possible.
Example: Are there lodging options that are decent, for less than $50/night?
I'll be driving across the Southern U.S. -- mostly I-40 / Route 66 - and just need a clean, quiet room. I would consider a shared room (i.e. hostel / dorm) if there are good options in that realm, but "party hostel" environment probably wouldn't work, per need to sleep, I will need shower or bath -- but don't need phone / TV, etc. -- would consider "guesting" in someone's home - i.e. couchsurfing.com - if the people came highly recommended as safe, courteous, etc.
Important Note: I do not have a credit card, so any place that requires them is not an option, nor is making reservations online.
(and "per that" - does anyone know if Flagstaff, AZ is a ski town - and if finding a motel room may be tough, there? And if so, are there other good options in Northern, AZ?)
Candidly, my "fiscally imploded" :o) condition is recent, so my primary "benchmarks" are as a working business traveler (meaning: employer paid for everything) -- so I don't have a lot of perspective on ("quote-unquote") lower-end lodging options.
(And please note: a camper I am not - especially in a fully-packed 4-door sedan - 1999 Camry - no camping equipment - and during Winter -- not an option. I slept in the car to save money, back when I was "young & naive" (early 30s ... :o) ) -- and don't care to ever repeat that - the discomfort, "no-bed-ness" and "next-day unshowered-ness" carried a disproportionate degree on non-fun-ness, in comparison to the bit of money saved.)
I'm fairly confident on gas - ran the numbers on an online mileage / fuel calculator, which even incorporate make/model of car, and current gas prices in that region.
On food, I'm pretty flexible - I don't eat a ton - and figure that buying a cheap, small cooler and "sandwich fixins" - along with maybe a purchased sandwich or other inexpensive (small) fast-food type meal per day --- or ---- cheap fast food (a McDonalds snack-wrap and yogurt can carry me for half a day, easy) -- could leave me well under my $25/day estimate, for food.
Any suggestions on saving money, on either gas or food?
I have a friend, whose brother lives in Phoenix - and who may be able to offer me lodging for a night (tomorrow night - so long drive day, from right near San Jose, CA to Phoenix - but I've done it before, and know it's doable - just long!)
While this would save me +/-$50 -- it also takes me (it appears), about 4 hours out of my way -- I would normally pass straight through Flagstaff, AZ on I-40 ... so this would involve a dip down to Phoenix (2 hours), followed by a return jog back up to Flagstaff -- to literally get back on track - and, at current gas prices .... that detour would cost me about $25 in gas -- and so, only save me (I'm guessing) - $20-$25, compared to just staying in Flagstaff, at a cheap place.
The Actual Question: Does the detour seem worthwhile? OR (Just as important) - is there an easy way to re-route the trip -- to lessen the detour? (there doesn't appear to be -- nothing really goes East from Phoenix - and the "southern dip" of I-10, down through Tucson and points East - looks like it would add a lot of miles - when destination is Atlanta <-- northern Georgia).
Again, thanks very much -- per budget, and trip dynamics - this is kind of a stressful time (though there's at least a bit of "fun factor", too ... or, I'm trying to see that, at least!) ...
... so any and all input is very much appreciated!
PS - Final Question: Mileage / Time .... not sure how accurate online maps are - for instance, if Google Maps tells me "10 hours" - how does this translate, in terms of "real world" driving time? My guess is: online map estimates are probably a little long, per the fact that most people drive faster than speed limit on highways ... but then, some time is added back in for reasonable rest stops ... so those times should be in the ballpark (I'm guessing). Any thoughts?