How to Travel the Country Without Breaking the Bank
A lot of people think that traveling automatically equals spending. Which, yes, may be true for some. Of course you're going to spend one way or another (ie: plane fare, gas, food, etc.). But you really don't have to break the bank in order to see the world. Unless you're high maintenance, then I'm afraid I can't help you. But if you don't mind sacrificing a little bit here and there in order to become a full-time traveler, then continue on to receive some important tips.
1. Buy an Annual Parks Pass
This pass rules. It's totally worth the $80 you have to initially cough up to use it. Why? Because you get to explore ANY and all Federal recreation sites that charge an entrance or standard amenity fee. So that $25 Big Bend entrance fee? Nope. Or how about the $30 it costs to bring your car into Zion National Park? Paid. Once you buy the pass, it's valid for 12 months and also admits not only you, but up to 3 additional passengers. After two National Parks, the pass pretty much pays for itself. Then you're just exploring all the beautiful National Parks and Monuments for free.
2. Food Can Make or Break You.
When we first got on the road full-time in our RV, we did a lot of eating. Especially because we were in a perpetual state of exploration. New sights, new smells, new cuisine. Yet, that didn't work too well with our bank account. Ultimately, we learned that if we can stretch meals as much as possible, we'd have more money for other things. We found this helpful by specifically shopping in certain stores like Trader Joe's, which sell a lot of organic, healthy food for cheap. We also learned to buy inexpensive items and turn them into simple meals. Lentils, for example, go a very long way, along with certain types of beans. A bag of rice can last you forrevveeerrr if you're smart about it.
3. BLM Land Can Be Your Saving Grace
First, a little quiz....view quiz statistics
There are over 264 million acres of public land at your disposal. The Bureau of Land Management administers these acres of public lands to whomever feels inclined to use them. These dispersed sites are much more primitive than you're used to, for example you can't hook up your RV and there certainly aren't any bathrooms. However, you can pretty much stay anywhere on BLM land for absolutely free, and basically stay as long as you'd like. How's that for cheap travel?
4. Slow Your Roll
Saving money while traveling will probably be more conducive if you aren't constantly on the go. If you take time to explore and adventure, without moving around continuously, you'll save more. Being in a new city or place brings a ton of "To-Do's", but you don't need to accomplish them all in one shot. What we like about our RV travel is that we can set up shop and take time to explore our surroundings without being in a rush. This saves us not only huge $$$ on gas, but also gives us peace of mind that we don't need to be cramming everything in. Throw in a bag of lentils and we're living like queens.
5. Members Only
Traveler clubs are the way to go. I'm telling you, you can save BIG by just being a member of certain clubs. Passport America for example, is a killer way to save for full-time RVers. You can save up to 50% off over 2,000 campgrounds in the United States. Some campgrounds we've found, with full hook up, a pool, wifi, and laundry are as low as $10 a night. Gas clubs, too, can save you a few cents at the pump every time, which believe me, it adds up. Also, make sure your credit card has a points system in place. We earn a ton of points just through traveling, which ultimately pays for more traveling! A few other decent travel sites worth mentioning include Good Sam, AAA, and Roverpass.
These are just a few tips for you to use when you're preparing to travel the country and want to save some cash. Traveling is not cheap, but it's also not going to break your bank if you don't let it. Employ some of these tips and tricks and start seeing a savings almost immediately.