There are many reasons to take a road trip. Sometimes people who are moving from one state to another decide that, since they have to take their car with them anyway, they might as well drive there. Other times, people decide to take the scenic route on their way to visit a friend or family member. Sometimes people do it simply because they hate flying. There as many ways to take a road trip as there are interstate miles in the United States. Between gas, food, and lodging, the cost of a road trip can add up fast. Some of the below tips will help preserve your bank account, while others will help preserve your relationships with the people you have to share a car with from here to Montana.
Get A Pre-Trip Check
The quickest way for a road trip to go south (we mean that figuratively, not literally) is for something to go wrong with the car. No one wants to get stuck in a town in the middle of nowhere, hoping against hope that the only mechanic in town can get the car running again. That’s why it’s a smart idea to schedule a pre-trip car check with the dealership where you purchased your car. If your battery is on the verge of going out entirely, they can let you know before you get on the road. If there’s a bigger problem, you don’t want to cancel or delay your road trip, but postponing the trip is better than the alternative.
Once you know that things are A-OK with your vehicle of choice, set up a tentative driving schedule. Maybe you’ll be the lead-off driver and go until you hit the Arizona state line, and then your friend Joey takes over. Maybe your sister is a night owl who doesn’t mind driving at night while you sleep in the backseat. And perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to be flexible. If someone has to use the bathroom, find a suitable exit and let them. Don’t be that guy who refuses to pull over because of some schedule that really only exists in your mind. You’re not going to receive a cash reward that must be claimed by midnight. If you were, you would have taken a plane. The point of road trips is to have fun and see things you’ve never seen before. You’re driving your friend’s trusty old Honda through Utah, not running a camp for wayward girls.
Presumably, you want to be friends with these people after the road trip is over. That’s going to be hard to do if you say things like “You’re hungry again? You just ate six hours ago.” If you want to be that strict about things, you should take a solo road trip. And solo road trips are way more stressful than ones where you have help.
In the same spirit of spontaneity, you should feel free to stop at those cheesy roadside tourists traps. You only get so many chances to view the world’s largest ball of yarn, after all.
Set Up Camp
If you don’t mind a few bug bites and really want to save money, consider pitching a tent instead of renting a hotel room. Campsite fees are often much cheaper than even the grimiest motel room, with the added bonus of letting you sit around a campfire and tell stories until you fall asleep. This option does require a bit more planning, though, since campsites aren’t as easy to find as roadside hotels. So go online and find a few decent campsites along your route, as well as some backup options in case one or more of the camps is full.
That said, you don’t have to pretend to like camping if you really, really don’t like camping. Feel free to speak up if it’s not working for you. Any decent friends should understand that sometimes, access to indoor plumbing is worth paying a little extra.