Tired of drinking on home turf? Looking for a last blow-out with your college buddies before you all go off your separate ways? Plan a road trip! There is nothing like being piled into a car rubbing elbows synching bathroom breaks and sharing moon pies to form familial bonds. You’ll thank me later when you’ve got a full mailbox at Christmastime. In this blog post I’ll talk about the major source of your budget drain, gas, how to make sure you’re still friends at the end (hint, it’s odor-related), and do a quick highlight of a trip planner I found helpful to plan my last epic cross-country trip.
If your car isn’t digital…
You can be allergic to math and figure out your gas mileage with this link. http://www.milesgallon.com/. Google Maps will tell you your miles, highball the average gas prices, and you will have a gas budget and a cushion.
If you have a smart phone, and you’re not already using the www.gasbuddy.com app, do it. GasBuddy relies on its user hive to report gas prices to help you find the cheapest spot to fill up. It’s a pain-free way to save money on gas. I use it all the time and it’s saved me up to 25¢ a gallon.
To save even more money on gas, there’s a methodology to up your gas mileage called “hypermiling,” the efficacy of which you will only know if you know your gas mileage, which handily, you have already calculated. Some of the concepts are basic, like accelerating slowly after stops, one will make you look silly–turning your car off at red lights. Overinflating tires, another concept of hypermiling, is probably dangerous. I don’t recommend it. Using cruise control to accelerate and decelerate was the most helpful tip I gleaned from my research. The precise and slow incremental changes will increase your gas mileage, and it’s not a pain in the ass on the highway. Hypermiling’s not for everyone but if you’re on a budget, have a full car and a lot of luggage dragging your car down, it might be worth looking into.
You will not be showering regularly, full car, hot summer, you do the math.
Though not without their faults, enumerated here: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/travelplanning/userguidefree.htm, these planners have their place. They definitely help with the planning phase and any spontaneous stops that might happen on the way. I mapped my route on TripTik and it looks like this:
This particular route starts in NYC, loops to Las Vegas for the epic Electric Daisy Festival (300 electronica acts and a carnival in one? Yes, please!), swings back through my hometown and drops off friends in Kentucky to ultimately culminate back in NY. This part of the planner isn’t particularly impressive since Google Maps can do the same thing, but the next tab over, Places, I did find impressive. AAA has a huge database of restaurants, hotels, gas stations, campgrounds, events, bars, playhouses, art galleries, etc., and they give away their program for free.
What I love the most about this is it’s like getting the town guides you see in hotels, all in one place with no pamphlets, and you’re never surprised by prices in restaurants. Free Wi-fi is everywhere now (McDonald’s, Starbucks, hotel lobbies) so this ends up being decently mobile even if you’re camping out.
I hope this helps! Be safe, and take lots of pictures!
I’m reading Abnormal Psychology