Summers: A time we can soak up the sun at the beach, relax in the mountains, and hit the road for an all-American road trip. This summer, however, has been derailed with many of our planned getaways cancelled or put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. Travelling is still possible; it just takes a little more preparation, planning and a heavy dose of “plan B’s” to make it safe and fun for the family.
Recently I took a road trip down to Moab, UT, a place that had been on my bucket list for some time. Add into the mix my girlfriend, her teenage daughter, and her pre-teen niece who formed my carpool. I am then the odd man out. Maybe I should have planned that better…
As with most trips – it’s usually wise to have a budget in place so you’re not coming back home with empty pockets. Since we expected limited availability at most places during our trip, camping gear and coolers were critical to our luggage but also helped us save money.
With that in mind, here are some helpful financial advice to ensure a successful road trip:
–Budget for Gas. We decided to rent an SUV to maximize space and comfort but limited the selection to those with decent gas mileage. Typically, in the summer, gas prices tend to rise due to demand as more people vacation during this season. Sites like GasBuddy can help you plan for the cost of fuel for your trip. You can punch in your destination and vehicle type to get an estimate of your gas budget. You may also wish to consider any side trips or detours, so that you have a bit of cushion. In addition, GasBuddy can tell you where the lowest price for fuel is depending on your location.
–Lodging Plans. Our road trip mainly consisted of camping as we wanted to avoid hotels and be able to star-gaze at night. The idea of setting up a tent in the rugged wilderness intrigued me but I was outvoted. The ‘other’ parties in our group wanted a campground with access to more “modern day” amenities. Hipcamp was a site I used to find spots along the way that everyone could agree on. It provides the cost to reserve a spot, services available, and customer reviews. If camping is not your style, check out trip aggregator sites such as Booking.com, Kayak, or Tripadvisor; they can help find hotels that fit your budget. If you need more space, try Airbnb or Vrbo to have a more personal experience.
–Dining Options. Again, with limited availability for places to eat – we decided to visit the local supermarkets and pack a cooler with most of our essentials. The budget for food needs to be flexible as it depends on your destination and the dietary preferences of your caravan. Adjust your budget accordingly if you plan to splurge for a night. We tried to avoid the “convenience” of convenience store snacks as they tend to be quite a bit more expensive than what could be purchased at a grocery store.
–Where to Go. Whether you are a “go with the flow” traveler or a “super planner” – having an idea of where you might want to go and places you want to see helps with your overall budget. Researching your destinations for admission costs and hours of operation will save you money and potential headaches. Foursquare is a fun app that can provide ideas on what to do and where to go along with all the details you need to prepare for a fun trip!
Thank you –
The Team at White Raven Financial