Vacationing on a Shoestring: Cheap Road Trips - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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Vacationing on a Shoestring: Cheap Road Trips

Summer is all about vacations, but in these tough times, not everybody can afford to jet off for two weeks in the sun. When a vacation costs thousands of dollars and you’re struggling to make ends meet, it means you’re going to have to find a cheaper way to enjoy some holiday time this year.

The great news is that cheap road trips offer a chance to get out and about, to enjoy the company of others, and to realise it’s not all about beach living and pina coladas. If that’s what you really do want, then why not take your road trip along a coastal route and enjoy the high life for less? It’s all about making do with what you can afford, but making your vacation as exciting and as memorable as you possibly can. 

More and more people are starting to look closer to home when booking a vacation and it makes perfect sense financially. There are some really fantastic places to visit and the family won’t mind that you haven’t had to take an airplane to reach your destination. In fact, many families will tell you that their road trip vacations are some of the best they have ever had.

Arranging Your Vacation

Sit down and talk out your road trip with your travelling buddies. Make sure you include the children in discussions too as they are going to need entertaining if you’re going on a long trip. Talk about where you would like to go and the attractions you would like to visit. A very popular journey is California where you’ll find gorgeous beaches, wonderful towns, and of course Disneyland and many of the other famous resorts. Discuss accommodation options too, such as camping and motels. Talk about whether you want to eat in diners most of the time or you’d rather grab a bite on the road. Work out your budget and stick to it. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you might set out with no planned destination and just drive wherever the mood takes you. Just remember maps and a good quality SatNav to guide you.

To Camp Or Not to Camp?

Many people vacationing on a shoestring will camp as hotels and motels can push the cost of your vacation through the roof. When you’re paying for the family to sleep in a plush hotel room whilst your RV is parked out in the parking lot, it kind of defeats the object of a cheap vacation. RVs are great fun and allow you to pack a lot more on board, and they are cheap! If you don’t have your own, you can usually hire an RV for a good price. The only downside to an RV is that they use more gas than a conventional car, but the cost savings are still huge.

Camping has got to be one of the cheapest ways to spend your vacation and it’s fun too! Camping under the stars, waking up to the sound of bird song, and the thrill of the great outdoors are just some of the reasons why more and more families are choosing this option. Kids love camping too and will love helping out with the fire and pitching the tent. There are some great life skills to be learned on a camping vaction and they are skills that will stay with you for life.

Starting Out

Make sure your car or RV is totally roadworthy before you commence your trip. The last thing you want to do is have to turn back or be towed off the road due to a breakdown. Check the oil, tire pressure, and water and always make sure you have enough gas to reach your first stop.

If this is your first road trip be prepared for a rollercoaster journey of ups, downs, thrills and spills. One thing is for certain. You’ll have a great vacation, and it won’t have cost you the farm!

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frugal_fun said:

I'd encourage the author of this article to actual sit down and calculate the costs of camping in an RV vs. a moderate hotel room. I've done it several times.

The bottom line is that RVs do not save money, not even the "pop-up" kind. A spot in a campground that is RV friendly will run about $45 per night. That's 1/2 of the cost of a hotel room. Add to that the cost of the RV, and you maybe well over the cost of a moderate hotel room for the night. I haven't even discussed the extra gas. :(

And don't get me started on the opportunity costs associated with $30K+ RVs. You can take multiple, expensive vacations for just the price of the RV. There's nothing wrong with it if you like RV vacations, but you're kidding yourself if you're doing it to save money.

The only way to save money by camping is to do tent camping, with no frills or if traveling with a party that would require 2 or more hotel rooms but could fit on 1 campsite/in 1 RV. Otherwise, travel bargain sites are your best bet.

PS - I do like camping and have done it several times, which is why I've spent so much time with math.

July 3, 2012 6:43 PM

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