Author Topic: Cheap Travel Tips  (Read 3954 times)

bmjohnson35

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Cheap Travel Tips
« on: August 01, 2019, 04:52:35 PM »

On the verge of pulling the trigger on ER 1st Qtr of 2020 and already starting to plan 1-2 month road trip.  I did a search for cheap travel tips thread, but came up dry.  I would greatly appreciate any and all tips for minimizing travel costs.  We will likely pull a homemade tent trailer behind our Altima and camp most of the time and use Airbnb or cheap hotels when weather is ugly or we simply want a change. We will be identifying interesting places to visit, but don't plan to have a formal itinerary. 

Looking for suggestions for books, travel websites or any frugal travel hacks for keeping costs down.

Thanks,
BJ

Leisured

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2019, 10:54:45 PM »
I assume you have a small stove, to heat soup and casseroles. You can get a two burner gas stove which folds up like a small briefcase. If the weather is mild, buy good quality bread, sausage and cheese, and eat lunch by the side of the road. Also a thermos for tea or coffee.

Bee21

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2019, 01:49:01 AM »
It depends what you like doing, and also on your itinerary.  I always check the tripadvisor forums before going anywhere, they are amazing. Also, check pinterest, it will have some good tips about your destination.

APowers

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2019, 06:12:01 AM »
* Edit to fix broken link

www,freecampsites,net
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 08:56:43 PM by APowers »

grobinski

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2019, 06:28:43 AM »
This doesn't exactly apply in your case but when flying.... Pack a lunch so you don't have to pay airport/airline prices. We often make "plane-witches" the evening before a flight. Also, your quart bag for toiletries can contain spirits as long as each bottle is less than 3.4oz. You're not supposed to drink your own booze on the plane or in an airport but is somebody really going to stop you (discretion advised). Airplane bottles cost less than $2 when not bought on a plane.

Khaetra

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2019, 08:33:23 AM »
Have you camped for long periods before?  If not, I would try to do a small trial run to see if you truly like it or not.  There have been many folks who decide to do what you want to do, but end up abandoning camping because it turns out they hate it.

As for tips, a really good cooler that keeps things cold for a couple days is a life (and money) saver.  Being able to stock up for a few days instead of daily runs (and temptations) can save quite a bit.

CheapScholar

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2019, 11:50:24 AM »
Have you camped for long periods before?  If not, I would try to do a small trial run to see if you truly like it or not.  There have been many folks who decide to do what you want to do, but end up abandoning camping because it turns out they hate it.

As for tips, a really good cooler that keeps things cold for a couple days is a life (and money) saver.  Being able to stock up for a few days instead of daily runs (and temptations) can save quite a bit.

I totally agree with this.  1-2 months camping can be a stretch for many people.  Obviously depends on age and camping experience.  Iím 38, relatively athletic, and camp sometimes.  After a few nights camping though Iím ready for a real bed, shower, cushioned furniture, private bathroom.  Waking up in a cold tent can suck.  Waking up in a hot tent is even worse.

For cheap hotels I still recommend Hotwire. 

afox

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2019, 12:07:45 PM »
one thing ive noticed travelling the past few years is the increase in flight delays, and the really bad thing is that the bad delays end up costing me a lot of money. for example a few weeks ago flight was delayed 7ish hours resulting in getting to the destination after rental car place closed and having to get an airport hotel instead of driving to my campground, plus meals in the airport, cost me around $150 more. Big take-away is dont take afternoon flights in the summer/busy times especially in/out of airports with frequent thunderstoms/monsoonal moisture patterns. The data show morning flights are much less likely to be delayed due to the cascading ripple effects of small delays and summer weather patterns. Also, some airlines truly are better than others.

2nd thing ive  been working on past few years is taking fewer longer trips instead of more shorter trips. this saves a lot of money since transport is the largest cost for my trips but more importantly it saves a ton of time since planning and packing for a trip takes a lot of time and effort. Longer trips generally just mean bringing more clothes and food.


Hula Hoop

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2019, 12:11:57 PM »
We aren't into camping and tend to use Airbnb when travelling.  It works out relatively cheap as we have kids so having access to a kitchen saves us a lot of money for meals.  I usually have a big meal out once a day - either lunch or dinner.  Since most of our travelling is around Italy, eating out and trying the local specialties is a big part of the fun of travelling.  OTOH paying restaurant prices while our younger kid insists on only eating plain pasta is kind of annoying.


Otherwise, we travel to places where we have friends we can stay with.  We have a guest room and tend to put people up a lot so when we travel our friends are often able to reciprocate.

Hirondelle

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2019, 12:37:56 PM »
Probably not applicable to your situation, but I agree with Hula Hoop - go where you have friends. I love love love staying with my friends and exploring the area with them. Usually you get to go to the best places and also get your friend out to do something new in their own location. Friend visits are usually my best memories with someone.

If you lack in friends in locations where you want to go; try Couchsurfing. Not just for the actual place to sleep, but also to meet people and have fun. There's a meetup section where people can put in their interest and ask others to join. Let's say you have a car and plan a trip, adding 2 people to the ride can save you some gas costs and increase the fun! Most CSers are frugal so most activities suggested aren't about spending money (although drinks and coffee are popular ones ofcourse).

Then pack light. As light as you can. No airport charges for luggage, no taxis necessary because if you only 10 lbs it's no big deal to walk to a somewhat further away bus stand or to your hotel/destination.

Wash your own clothes as much as possible. Some washing powder (or whatever, I've also used shampoo) and lukewarm water do wonders for most clothes. Saves a lot on washing costs.

therethere

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2019, 01:16:01 PM »
I always hate stopping and paying for coffee on roadtrips. I would get a quick way to make coffee for long driving days or very early starts. We carry a camping stove but I wouldn't stop and make some  because takes too much time with setup. Either make some cold brew in a mason jar the night/day before or get something easy to access and already set-up in your car ready for coffee. I just got a used Jetboil specifically for this. It should pay for itself in less than one summer.

Use Gas Buddy and check it prior to getting close to the end of your tank. Then you avoid being at the mercy of the gas prices wherever you start to get low.  If you have to get gas in an expensive area, you can use it to find how much further the cheap gas is along your route and only add what you need to get there.

**Make sure your tent trailer is waterproof, including the underside!** Consider giving it a new coat of paint/fabric shield and underside tar or rubber before starting your trip. We started off a 3-week roadtrip pulling our trailer 8 hours in pouring rain only to arrive at our first destination with our mattress soaked because of inadequate waterproofing on the bottom. This is something that is hard to find until it's too late because generally the trailer is stationary and you're worried about the top being waterproof. 

Get a bar of Fels-Naptha and a sink stopper so you can wash your undies in the sink. It will let you go longer before having to do real laundry. Get travel underwear, especially for men.

If you're planning to primarily camp, decide if you're willing to go boondocking (no water or toilet facilities). If you are willing you can save a lot of money. Just get a good shovel.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2019, 02:15:20 PM »
..............your quart bag for toiletries can contain spirits as long as each bottle is less than 3.4oz..........

As a wedding gift I bought my friend 50 year old Cognac. The store had 3.4 oz bottles, and specifically told me that 4 would fit into a quart sized bag. Thinking that perhaps he'd want to enjoy it on his honeymoon, I did just that.

bmjohnson35

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2019, 02:21:53 PM »
Thanks for all the replies.  As for the questions about our past experience, we have used our tent trailer for up to two weeks, so we are familiar with the process.  The tent works best when staying at one camp site, so we will have to approach the trip a little differently.  We like a hot shower in a relatively clean facility every night. This limits our camping facilities options. We have read that truck stops have clean bathrooms with showers, so we may try this option as well. We will likely balance camping against other options as we go along, using weather, prices and whatever other factors seem appropriate. 

We definitely try to stay by friends and family whenever possible.
We typically eat light breakfast, so we may try to cook oatmeal and have fruit for breakfast and eat at least one full meal later in the day. We also snack on trail mix and other items.
We have already learned to pack light and we will simply use laundromat as needed along the way. We keep clothing down to shorts, jeans, t-shirts, Crocs and some shoes to hike in.  The Crocs double as shower shoes.
I will add Gas Buddy, Hotwire and freecampsites.net to my web site list.

We may find that camping does not save enough to justify the compromises.  We do intend to target milder weather months, maybe May & June and adjust our route with weather in mind.  If we find the camper too inconvenient, we can drop it by my Mom's place a few states away and pick it up on the way back.

Has anyone tried the portable AC/DC electric coolers? I was thinking we can keep it plugged in and sitting in rear footwell while driving and plug into A/C at campsites with electric or at other places we stay.  This will eliminate headache of replenishing Ice.

Thanks,
BJ



A Fella from Stella

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2019, 02:26:32 PM »
I have a cheap-o trip planned. Maybe my itinerary will spark some ideas for you:

(1) Leave at 6AM and arrive at a historic college for a tour at 10:00AM (packed breakfast had on the way)
(2) Eat lunch on way to friend's home and spend the night (bring dessert)
(3) After breakfast at that friend's house, head to other friend's 3 hours away (pick up case of his favorite beer - spend 2 nights)
(4) After we all do chores to help them clean their house (they always say they love us for this) head to cousin's 2 hours away (spend 2 nights)
(5) Drive to beach that is 4 hours away and stay in bungalow with a kitchen for 2 nights.
(6) Long drive home with a post-lunch stop at first friend's house to walk around their neighborhood, or just hang out while the kids play in the backyard.

bmjohnson35

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2019, 02:36:41 PM »

Thanks Fella.  Your post does remind me to plan for "gifts" for our stops at friends and family.  I know I always appreciate it when visitors bring a along food, a bottle or other refreshment. 

BJ

therethere

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2019, 02:41:43 PM »
If you're traveling out west, most USFS campsites don't have hookups for electric or showers. All you really get is a pit toilet, fire ring, and table. Some don't even have water. Campgrounds with hookups are usually geared towards big RV's and then run a lot more per night ~$40-$60. Definitely not worth it. It's really not that much of a hassle to restock ice as long as you have a stock of reliable waterproof ziplock bags. Walmart freezer bags surprisingly handle the cooler very well. My Coleman Xtreme can keep ice for days. Your real deal breaker are those daily hot showers.

I would do your best to make your tent trailer as easy to set up as possible. Can a real bed (memory foam works good) with comforters be closed within the tent for travel? So when you open it your bed is mostly set up already? That will do wonders on being comfortable if you're constantly on the go.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 02:44:28 PM by therethere »

bmjohnson35

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2019, 03:00:56 PM »
If you're traveling out west, most USFS campsites don't have hookups for electric or showers. All you really get is a pit toilet, fire ring, and table. Some don't even have water. Campgrounds with hookups are usually geared towards big RV's and then run a lot more per night ~$40-$60. Definitely not worth it. It's really not that much of a hassle to restock ice as long as you have a stock of reliable waterproof ziplock bags. Walmart freezer bags surprisingly handle the cooler very well. My Coleman Xtreme can keep ice for days. Your real deal breaker are those daily hot showers.

I would do your best to make your tent trailer as easy to set up as possible. Can a real bed (memory foam works good) with comforters be closed within the tent for travel? So when you open it your bed is mostly set up already? That will do wonders on being comfortable if you're constantly on the go.

Good to know.  Over here on the east, you can find campsites that meet our needs for $25 or less. Electric not important, but hot clean showers are important.

BJ

Our tent trailer unfolds in 5 minutes and the memory mattress is built into it.

Leisured

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2019, 12:34:22 AM »
If you drive many hours I recommend wearing cheap cotton gloves. The grime which accumulates on the gloves tells you the grime that would have accumulated on your hands if you had not worn gloves.

You can get little hand sanitizer bottles, small enough to fit into the palm of your hand.  Convenient to cleanse your hands if eating on the road.


L8_apex

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2019, 09:43:52 AM »


Has anyone tried the portable AC/DC electric coolers? I was thinking we can keep it plugged in and sitting in rear footwell while driving and plug into A/C at campsites with electric or at other places we stay.  This will eliminate headache of replenishing Ice.


AC/DC fridges/coolers are awesome, but what you typically need to do is buy the cooler, (say $500, or more), buy a car-sized battery to power it ($100), then buy solar panels and a charge controller (say $300 minimum) to recharge the battery.  More sophisticated controllers can also use charging from the car's alternator when the engine is running.  So its about a $1000 cost all in.  I think most everybody that's done it wouldn't go back.

The other issue that hasn't been brought up that I haven't yet addressed myself is air conditioning.  It's essentially not reasonable to try to run aircon off of batteries while parked, so you need an air conditioner and a gas powered generator to power it.  Those are of course noisy, so it's lots of upside and lots of downside....


dollarchaser

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2019, 09:38:45 PM »
Panera bread does $7.99/dozen bagels on Tuesday. Get a few breakfast types and also Asiago bagels. Make a batch of chicken salad sandwiches for roadside meal instead of gas station junk. We traveled from STL to Moab without fast food or gas station junk, so our funds were used where we wanted to be instead of mindless spending getting there.
Also the mini hiking burners/jet boil can be great for the morning coffee while tearing down camp.

Zamboni

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2019, 11:07:36 PM »
Crock pot cooking is great for cheap travel.

Here is one that even plugs into your car charger:
https://www.amazon.com/RoadPro-RPSL-350-Quart-Slow-Cooker/dp/B0013IR88A

This guy car camps in his Prius. Most of this video is about his ingenuity for optimizing doing that, but he has a cooler charging set up that might interest you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W86B-6BHrJA&t=479s

good luck and have fun!

Roots&Wings

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2019, 06:53:39 AM »
Has anyone tried the portable AC/DC electric coolers? I was thinking we can keep it plugged in and sitting in rear footwell while driving and plug into A/C at campsites with electric or at other places we stay.  This will eliminate headache of replenishing Ice.

Yes, don't get the Coleman Powerchill cooler. My parents went through 3 of those things before giving up and going back to old school ice packs (first one was under warranty and replaced free, next 2 weren't and both died just after the warranty expired). Used for 2 week trips 3x/year, so it wasn't excessive usage either.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 11:09:31 AM by Roots&Wings »

bognish

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2019, 03:19:47 PM »
Where are you planning to go on your road trip? In the western US you can find lots of free camping on BLM & Forest Service lands. Ranger stations or offices are great place to stop in for local road conditions and pointing you to roads you can pass in your car and find good camping. They usually have free maps too.

Block ice will keep a cooler cold a lot longer than the cubed ice.

Solar showers can be really nice, especially if you can hang it from a tree or something high. If you really need a long hot shower you can always sleep in a free campsite and head to campground in a state or natl park for a shower. Many big truck stops in the western US do have good showers, but be careful about leaving your trailer or car unattended in a truck stop or highway hotel parking lot.

If you are going to use free campsites, most won't have a table. Having a stove with legs or a packable table makes it easier to cook.
Probably best advice would be to start with a minimal set up and add things you are missing or need along the way. Start with a cheap cooler & block ice, and upgrade to a plug in fancy cooler after a week or two if you need it.

bmjohnson35

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2019, 05:11:16 PM »

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions! 

I think the group has talked me out of the electric cooler.  We will definitely try a good quality ice cooler instead. 

I'm still not sure how camping will work out, but we will keep it simple and our cooking to a minimum and see how it goes.  As one poster mentioned, getting a site at national parks or nicer camping locations can be difficult without a reservation. It may be easier on weekdays.

We have usually done our road trips and camping with our Miata.  We will be using our 4dr Altima this time, so we will have a lot of storage, considering what we are used to. 

BJ

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: Cheap Travel Tips
« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2019, 05:19:52 PM »
I have some friends from Europe who came here for a 2 month road trip.  They flew in, went out and bought an astro van for like $2500.  Drove over to Home Depot and built a bed frame in the back.  Went to the sporting goods store and bought the basics.  Crazy, crazy cheap 2 months with just gas and basic food, a few little extras here and there.
 With almost all of it free camping, sleeping in parking lots, etc.  They would just park and sleep in parks all over.  Only once were they told to leave. They traveled the entire country.  More than anyone I know.  They ended the trip at our house, sold the van to Carmax for $2000 (shocking, I know!) and flew home.  It's really not that difficult and totally depends on how you want to do your trip.  It can be expensive with AirBNB's and what not or you can sleep in the back of an astro van - or anything in between.

Look on Amazon for some cooking ideas.  There are little burners that you can heat up meals with that also generate electricity off the heat to charge your phone.  All sorts of cool little camping things. 

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!