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  1. Default my opinion on safety for cheap trippers

    [Editor's Note: I have taken the unusual step of adding some comments in the middle of new member's post -- we love road trip passion -- but sometimes it can runneth over]

    I just wanted to post this because I have been on many many road trips. I've been up and down both coasts and in between including canada. The only places I haven't really conquered are hawaii and alaska. Most times...well who am I kidding, all but once I've needed to roadtrip on a budget. And I mean a budget. I've never gone alone. It really is much safer to be with somebody else. Doesn't matter who, you're best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, co worker...even your grandma will make it safer.

    [Editor's Note: Just about every RoadTrip Advisor, who is active on this Forum takes, enjoys and advocates solo road trips. Here are some tips about how to do it.]

    Since I was on a budget I've stayed at some really questionable places that cost 19.95 a night. That's as of recently not 1975. when I went coast to coast a couple of years ago my friend really wanted to stay at as many youth hostels as possible. Being we stopped at a lot of differant towns and cities what I can tell you is that not many cities (in america that is) have formitable youth hostel options. They don't advertise and you need to ask around and many people will have no idea what you're talking about or how to help you. I don't recommend staying at an american youth hostel if you can find an operating one.

    [Editor's Note: I think this member's information is out of date. The American Hosteling movement is active and doing well -- here is a good overview article.]

    We were pointed to many that turned out to be boarded up and closed or moved somewhere else and it just wasn't an option. The only place that actually made good on the youth hostel rumour was san franscisco...and a lot of homeless kids that are up to no good stay there...I have my I'm sure most of you guys do too.

    On a road trip you'll never feel safe and warm but it's the adrenaline rush and the adventure that keeps you going and enjoying every minute of it's liberating experience.

    [Editor's Note: I am not sure that any of hit the road looking for "safe and warm" -- we all seek the adventure of the open road -- however there are ways to increase personal safety on the road -- here are some tips]

    Try and stay at a chain motel...even if it's the dreaded motel 6. they say to stay on the top floor. Whichever floor makes you feel safest...its all preference...on the first floor i like the idea i could jump out the window or run out in the open need be some epic "paramount" movie type of situation. In my opinion staying away from rooms in dark corners or in non well lit areas or not by the entrance are the rooms i really don't want.

    I actually really like motel 6 because it's always a really cheap rate with a relatively clean room, good shower and locks.

    staying in the car= try not to do it!
    seriously..for several reasons..not only is it really unsafe because you're car is out in the open and you're very visable and vunerable but...i bet ya never even considered this---bugs...
    a little story. I've stayed in my car plenty...and I've always done it either at a resttop or a very crowded 24 hour diner or restaraunt.
    well...i won't do it s. carolina i got bit by a fly that wasn't around where i live and my body had not only a bad reaction but i wound up getting a staph infection from it. needless to say i needed to cut off my trip to rush home and to my doctor where my arm was swollen from my wrist to my elbow and blotchy and i was on antibiotics for over 3 weeks.
    true it could have happened in a hotel/motel..but most likely not.

    the other thing...although getting a shower everyday is great and's not at all possible when on the road on a budget..neither is washing your clothes. To do it cheaply you kinda not have to mind being a little filthy...

    [Editor's Note: Actually one can get a shower every day for as little as free to $12 at campgrounds and travel centers]

    if you don't mind what you eat you can go to the local some bread and peanut butter or some deli meat and you can eat really cheap!
    but if you want to get a little saucy and have some hot fast food...use the same resources available to you at home...that's right coupons.

    fast food places have oodles and oodles of coupons as you know...and for under 10 bucks you could get a days worth of big macs or whoppers real easily with the right coupons...just check the lobbies of the supermarkets for the coupon papers or even the local paper. it might even have coupons for local attractions or give you insight on local things to do.

    also if you plan on staying in a town for a might want to ask some locals if they have a food bank around town. many food banks will let you stock up on groceries totally for free...provided you give them a reason you need it...that also includes other things like clothes and stuff..but don't take advantage..there's always somebody who needs it more than you so take what you need and nothing more.

    make sure to have a map...and compass!
    ok that's nice if you have that navigation but the reality is...well anything can happen and why be sorry when you can be safe. both of these things will serve well especially if you break down or get in an accident or you get snow stranded or what have you on a back road...not likely but possible so just arm yourself.

    Start stocking up on things you think you'll need well before you depart. you should always be planning for a trip at least a month or two ahead...that's the safest and best way to travel. over the planning months start buying some batteries, the map, toothpaste...shampoo.
    this way you don't have to throw it all down the day before you leave.
    don't carry too much cash. furthermore don't leave more cash than you need in your bank account. (in case somebody steals your debit card)

    in actuality the smartest way to road trip is completely on a credit card you'll pay back when card, small, can be placed in other places than your pocket...this way if you're wallets lost or stolen you still have your card in that secret special place...

    always try and know where you're going ahead of time but even if you don't never act or look like a out of towner, it's the easiest way to draw unsavory attention to yourself.

    before you leave... know where you're going and estimate everything...overestimate a little bit. sure you can venture off the road a little and do some side things but ..if you dont have an overall plan you might find yourself in some bad situations...I.E...certain states you may not want to be or bad weather conditions.

    always watch the news for at least 20 minutes when you stop in hotel rooms..make sure to get weather and traffic.

    anyway this is all my opinion of course but I've road tripped a lot with little to no money and without sacrificing too much comfort and my safety...ths is how i did it.

    honestly though, you want as much money and resources available to you. The more money you have to spend on nicer hotels and better food (no food poisoning) the safer and better off you'll be.

    (please note once again that these are my opinions and only MY opinions...i'm not guarenteeing anybodies absolute safety)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-06-2007 at 11:16 AM. Reason: Added white space and some interim notes

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A community of trippers

    Quote Originally Posted by bundens View Post
    I just wanted to post this because I have been on many many road trips.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! We appreciate your comments and ideas -- it is funny, but I probably feel the most comfortable -- perhaps even the safest -- when I am on the road, solo and in unfamiliar places. I have driven nearly a million miles in North America and can only count four places/events that were truly life-threatening -- and even those situations are welcomed and treasured memories of my days on the road.

    We hope that you feel welcome here to share your expertise -- we are a community of road trippers and fully embrace and support a code of behavior -- what we refer to as the Good Neighbor policy. Here is some more information about what that means. Enjoy your time here.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Never been that poor of spirit

    Quote Originally Posted by bundens View Post
    if you don't mind what you eat you can go to the local some bread and peanut butter or some deli meat and you can eat really cheap!
    Just about every one of the RoadTrip Enthusiasts active on the Forum use grocery stores on the road far more than fast food or restaurant-prepared food. Here are some more tips about snacking well on the road.
    many food banks will let you stock up on groceries totally for free...provided you give them a reason you need it...that also includes other things like clothes and stuff..but don't take advantage..there's always somebody who needs it more than you so take what you need and nothing more.
    In the early days of RTA, on way too many occasions, I found myself on the road with only enough cash purchase another tank of fuel -- but I never felt "poor enough" to take groceries from a local food bank -- actually the thought never occurred to me -- and I would certainly recommend against the practice -- most road trippers are on holiday and I personally believe that food bank resources should be utilized by the local residents not by travelers on holiday.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default have to disagree

    While I don't dispute your experience, I just can't agree with many of the conclusions you've come to about safety and budgeting for a roadtrip.

    I have never once felt unsafe because I was traveling solo. I find solo trips are very worthwhile because you can truely do whatever you want to do, without having to worry about what other people have in mind. Being with a group may bring a certain extra amount of safety, but ultimately, using good common sense is your best protection, with or without other people.

    I also have to strongly disagree with your assessment about Hostels. I've stayed in a few of them in the US, and I have always found them to be a very attractive option for budget lodging. Not everyone will enjoy the dorm style atmosphere of a Hostel, and it is true that many people in the US are simply unaware of this option, but it is certainly a good option to persue if you are looking for a cheap place to sleep.

    Its also true that going with a chain motel will provide a certainly level of safety, because generally the operator will have to live up to the chain's expectation to keep the franchise. However, there are also plenty of good mom and pop places out there too. I'm sure you can find a few no-name, no-tel, pay by the hour type places in every city that will probably be dirt cheap but with questionable safety, but again, this is something that common sense should be telling you well before it is ever an issue.

    Sleeping in a car can also be done safely, although I suppose it will never be quite as safe as being in a locked building. I don't do it often myself, because I don't find it to be a very comfortable way to sleep, but there are plenty of people who have slept in a car for years without ever having any issues.

    As far as bugs go, sometimes things will happen, and you certainly can't avoid risk while on a roadtrip. You didn't mention camping as a sleeping option, but its probably my favorite choice for budget sleeping. You certainly have a even higher risk of getting a bug bite while camping than even sleeping in a car, but thousands of people do it every day without any serious problems.

    Finally, I do have to say that I'm actually horrified of your suggestion of going shopping at a food bank. Most charities have a hard enough time trying to help local families who really have fallen on hard times. To take advantage of that system to save money while traveling is simply loathsome in my opinion. Many of your budgeting ideas are sound suggestions, but using the services of a charity organization as a budget traveler is an idea that I hope that no one would ever consider.

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