I’m a big fan of the all-American road trip – especially when it means packing up the car (and husband and dog) and visiting some of our nation’s best parks. A cooler full of food and a trunk full of camping gear can make road trips a very affordable way to travel.
A few years back, we took 10 days off work and headed west. We visited eight national parks, feasted on freshly caught trout, toured a cave, photographed wild horses, saw sacred Native American quarries, and cruised around a mountain lake – all for $400 per person (including gas and souvenirs)!
Here are a few of my best money-saving tips when it comes to the all-American road trip:
1. Pack a cooler! We only dined out twice in 10 days. Otherwise, all food came from our cooler and was pre-purchased before we left home. This allowed us to avoid pricey groceries on the road. Who wants to pay $5 for a bag of marshmallows at the campground store anyway?
2. Camp! On our last big road trip we paid as little as $8 per campsite at Theodore Roosevelt National Park to over $25 at Yellowstone National Park. We would have paid well over $100 per night if we were staying at park lodges.
3. Buy a pass! – Most parks require entrance fees which can range from a few dollars to $25. Because we knew we’d be visiting so many parks, we opted for a National Park Service pass for $80. It ended up saving us about $20, plus it was good for a year so we were able to use it in Florida a few months later!
© Jessica Leigh Rosier 2013