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The genesis of this post occurred during the early 2020 worldwide pandemic. Since I’m not an expert, The Driveby Tourist will not offer any health or investing advice. As the fear and anxiety about the pandemic subsides, planning a road trip vacation will help take your mind off the world’s problems. However, the economy impacts road trips, no matter how we look at it. So, we need to find extra funding, cut expenses, or just don’t go. But, we are road-trippers, we want to go! Along that line of thinking, I’ve found some funding sources for myself.
Funding those trips!
Since I’m retired from my professional career, I can take on “side gig” jobs. One of those is delivering Penske trucks to locations where they are needed. It doesn’t bring in a lot of money but it gives a bit of income, it gives me something else to do, and it gives me time to think about road trips! Besides, who doesn’t want to drive a truck! The picture above depicts places I’ve been while delivering trucks.
Of course, not everyone will be impacted when the economy impacts road trips. However, many will be. There are many gig economy jobs for extra income or to help pay bills until you start getting paid with a regular job again. Any kind of food delivery service is hiring fast. For example, Bite Squad, Door Dash, and Grubhub. Amazon is hiring many contractors as well. With much of the population practicing social distancing, delivery services are booming.
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Money saving tips for road trips on a budget
Although not everyone can take advantage of all of these, some of them apply. They are great to use for budget road trips. For example:
- Do you have a family member who works in the hospitality industry? Some of the hotel chains offer family discounts as high as 40 and 50%. This is a good source for help with funding those trips.
- Do you have a Costco membership? Costco Travel is included and gives good prices on air fares, hotels, car rentals, and cruises.
- Are you a member of AARP or AAA? Most hotels offer at least 10% with these memberships.
- Military? Active duty military get the best offers (as they should). Retired veterans get fewer than active duty but typically more than those of us who served the typical two to six years. But there are often “deals” for any veterans.
- Others? There are many discounted travel sites. Especially important when the economy impacts road trips. Here is the first one I found when searching for the best: Money’s My Life (link). And here’s another one. It’s on “Travel Channel” web site. This next one is from Kiplinger which seems to be a trusted site. If you find a travel site that shows up on at least two or all three of these, it’s likely to be one of the better ones. (Always remember: If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.) But there are such things as “mistake” fares that are posted with the wrong price and then change quickly.
Rewards Credit Cards
Unless you have some of these already they won’t help now. But, keep them in mind. Here are two web sites that I follow that provide information on best rewards for credit cards. The Thrifty Traveler and Travel Freely. Three general classes: Rewards cards that build up their own rewards like Chase, Capital One, and American Express. Co-branded airline cards that accumulate airline points. Co-branded hotel cards that build up hotel points. Most have annual fees so you’ll have to determine which ones are worth the money. Some of the co-branded hotel cards offer a free night every year that will offset the annual fee. All of these can help funding those trips.
Camping to offset the economy impacts road trips
Of course, if you are into camping, you can also use that as a means for funding those trips. Not everyone is willing to sleep in a tent but there are other inexpensive methods. Renting a small RV when the economy impacts road trips works. Buying or renting a pop up camper is another option. State parks and national parks all offer many camping options as well as commercial campgrounds.
Other means of budget road trips
That’s always an option for some of you to encroach upon friends and relatives around the country. Your level of chutzpah will dictate how far you can carry this one! Carried out far enough can get you many nights much cheaper than hotels or Airbnb.
Another option: Probably for the young and adventurous people! Couchsurfing.com! Get the know the local people and customs. Hosts sign up for this and don’t expect any payment for it. They will typically expect you to spend some time with them to talk about experiences. You don’t offer money but are encouraged to cook, or help cook a meal; take your hosts out to eat; bring a bottle of wine, etc. I hadn’t heard of this until about a year ago. Apparently, it’s quite a “thing” among the adventurous, kinda wild and crazy!
Want to see a shop for my road trip photos? You can have them printed as wall art or puzzles. They also work on coffee mugs, t-shirts and more! So, take a look. Maybe you'll see something you will like!
And there is Airbnb. That’s very well known. We did try VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) in Maine back in 2016. That worked well and was less expensive than a hotel. Especially since it was near Bar Harbor where hotels run to $300 to $400 a night. We didn’t need 3 bedrooms, about 1500 square feet, and a great view of the interior of the island but it was a very good place.
That’s what I have for now. I’m sure it will generate some thoughts for you on other options as well. Best wishes on your budget road trips!
I certainly could have used a less expensive option on this (link) Great River Road trip stop in Natchez MS. A Holiday Inn Express was nearly $200 a night!
“Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf
Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Like a true nature’s child
We were born, born to be wild….
Written by: Mars Bonfire
(The section on “couchsurfing” seemed to bring this song to mind!)