So far I have been to about half of the 50 states out here in the USA (more than most Americans which is a shame). All have been visited on the road in one car, a little Mazda 3. While driving around I have discovered a few bits and bobs that I wish I knew when I started. On the open road I have seen probably 20-30 National Parks/Monuments, visited some major cities that just a few years ago felt unreachable and met some really cool people.
There’s really an incredible amount to see out here, I would recommend road tripping the states to anyone, especially a resident. Anyway, what secrets do we have for you? Well lets count them down!
6. Buy a National Parks Pass
It is only $80 for a year! You might be thinking a year is too much but one park is $30 (this is per car) so go to three and you have saved some money. I have been blown away by some of the National Parks, especially in the North West and South West States. Buy the Pass and go, you will not find any better way to spend a day nor a more cost effective one. Buy it here!
5. Accommodation tips.
First of all there are plenty of cheaper ways to sleep than a hotel or motel set up, which I will talk about a little down the list. But if you do have to stay somewhere start with Booking.com but don’t stop there. You will find this site has the cheapest rates, but check on others. I will suggest staying loyal however, you tend to get great offers and discounts if you stick with one provider. Once you have found your room call the location direct to see if a direct booking is cheaper, they will generally be paying Booking.com and others a commission, if you book direct they may pass that onto you as a saving. Of course the normal stuff would apply like book a day in advance and weekdays are always cheaper. There is one more little hint here, hunt around for discounts!
Click on this link for a $25 discount on Booking.com Book for $25 cash back!
4. Eat on the CHEAP
I hate to say it but fast food here is pretty much the best option. Taco Bell probably comes out on top too. You can get a couple tacos for a few dollars and be on your way. We originally thought that buying food to prepare ourselves would be the best solution, mainly I think because I am English, it may of worked back home. But not here, fast food is so cheap it wins every time. I did stumble across places like Little Ceasers that will do a large $5 pizza that you can make last all day. Just be smart when it comes to food, think before you buy 🙂
3. Fuel Prices
Fuel is pretty cheap in the States however that’s not to say you wont get stung if you get it in the wrong place. In big city Texas you may find gas at $1.90 but up a mountain in California you’ll be looking at $3.50. It is oddly cheaper if you pay with cash so do that if you can and also for whatever reason when you reach a town the first place you see will inevitably be the cheapest. I didn’t trust this for the longest time and kept driving in the hope of something cheaper but I never found it. You can also use some of the many apps out there that will give you a guide as to where to find the cheapest gas.
2. Find cool stuff on route.
There is a site called Atlas Obscura and it is a hidden gem, a gold mine. I ended up going to the Gonnies House and “Wild Bills” grave site thanks to the help from http://www.atlasobscura.com. I am sure there are many other sites like it but this is the one I love. Essentially there is so much to see wherever you go, you could be on the road for 6 hours from one stop to another, thinking there is nothing to see in between but there is! Finding those little stop off points that you had no idea where there will really make your day.
1. Sleep in your car!
I cannot encourage this more! When you are on the road you will normally get in late and take off early, spending $50 on a hotel every night can really add up for just a 7 hour kip. Pull down the back seats and sleep in the car instead, you can save a bomb or just spend the hotel money on something more worth while. Now here’s the secret, WALMART! Walmart will allow you to sleep in their car park, unless there is a sign saying otherwise. There are many positives with doing this that go way beyond the savings. One is you get toilets round the clock, you also feel safe with the many cameras and also steady traffic through the night. You can use their wifi in the parking lot if you park close enough and you can run in and buy yourself a nice snack,
There you have it friends, a few hints for your road trip of a lifetime! If you have enjoyed what you have read give it a little share on Facebook for me, I am trying to make a living off this and my god its hard going!!
Also if you have any other tips add them to the comments, I have a road trip planned for the east coast in a couple weeks so I would love to hear them. Thanks!