Sunday, October 20, 2013

Travel Across America for less than $600

USA Map Children Colorful- All Sizes. $35.00, via Etsy.

Lest you think we're millionaire's I'm about to tell you how we managed to travel across country for less than $600.
Whether you'd like to make it a vacation, or even a sabbatical driving across America is a lot easier than one would assume. It took us 5 days (with one day not driving but visiting with family).
Here are some tips and disciplines we learned as we drove across country from WA to TN:
1. Prepare
We drove in 'Bibi' my Escape, and we ensured she had a service about a week before we left on our trip. Also, as we move from state to state we've been diligent about getting our oil changed. It's also good to check tire pressure, liquids and the air filter often to ensure a happy car.
2. Cautious
We didn't drive on less than 3/4 of a tank...always refuel every few hours, in states like Wyoming and Nebraska gas stations are a greater distance.
3. Plan, but be Spontaneous
Ahead of time, we knew where our end location was. We looked on Google Maps to see what the town was like, and also had the address in our GPS a day or so before we left (just in case) but then we left the day to day up to spontaneity.
4. Pack like a pro
We traveled with everything we needed for the year. All our other household items went into storage, and we rented out our home, so we didn't have to worry about it being vacant. We packed our clothes into 4 long boxes (usually go under a bed) a food basket, and other toiletry and pet supplies. We didn't have a trailer, or roof carrier...we just squished together, along with our pets, and it's one of my most fun memories.
5. Family
We were fortunate to have family to stay with for two nights. We spent the night we arrived, a day with my hubby's family and one more night, so we could get on the road early the next day.
6. Budget
When traveling with pets, you tend to save money. Firstly, because you can't take long breaks, can't eat at fancy restaurants and you cant check into fancy hotels. We chose pet friendly hotels, which have side doors, as walking our pets in and out of a lobby, is not something we're used to. We'd park on the side, and try reserve ground floor, or 1st story rooms so we didn't have far to bring in our overnight valuables.
7. Drive Thru
We are not your typical fast food family. So this was quite funny, trying to figure our how to use the correct lane, direction, window etc. but it was cost effective and fast. We ordered coffee to stay awake along those 10 hour drives, iced water (free, yippee) and salads, or chicken wraps. Other times we'd park, use the restrooms (nicer than gas stations -just sayin'-) and order.
8. Love the one your with
After sitting in a car for days on end listening to the same songs on repeat, that you consider bringing out the Christmas sing along ones, there is a lot of time where you can turn off the music and talk. We talked for hours, and hours, and hours. Growing up in the 80's and 90's we knew a thing or two about car games also.
9. Diversions
One thing is for sure, life is not all one straight road. We learned a lot about the places along the way, we'd pick up free brochures at gas stations and read about the areas, and several times I investigated their real estate listings (nerd -I know). On our trip, we just so happened to see the sign for Metropolis, IL and so we took a diversion to the home of Superman
10. Unpack like a Pro also
Last but not least, when you arrive, get out your car and enjoy the first 5-10 minutes of the place you've arrived to. Take photos and be grateful you made it safely. Then unpack with a plan, of what's going where, and if you need to remember where you unpacked it from take a photo beforehand.
Congratulations, you've made it across country.
It always seems impossible until it's done
In our case we traveled over 2,500 miles and it was the most fun filled, carefree, and spontaneous days ever.

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