[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[Editor's Note: I think this member's information is out of date.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 limits..as 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 anymore...in 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 healthy...it'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 market...nab 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 little...you 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 done...one 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)