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Cheap Travel Across America

Updated on June 22, 2011

Back when we were still in college,my sister and I decided to see the country. Only problem was, being college kids, we didn't have any money. We soon learned that we really didn't need much and we could still have fun. I've since taken many vacations, but those days were my favorites. You don't need a lot of money to have a lot of fun.

Since we didn't have a lot of money to spend, we found ways to travel that were free or cheap. If we were going on a long trip, we slept at rest stops instead of paying for a hotel room. We would sleep for a few hours and then drive for awhile. When we needed to change clothes, we stopped at truck stops to use their showers. It would cost around $5 for a shower, much cheaper than a hotel room. While there, we'd load up on sandwiches and snacks from the convenience stores. It was much cheaper than stopping at a restaurant. And the snacks came in handy on the long drives.

We also stayed with friends and friends of friends instead of paying for a hotel room. Once my sister and I shared a twin size cot in a hotel room with some people we had just met who were mutual friends with other people we knew. That was a fun night as we tried to get comfortable. No complaints from us though because it was free. For safety reasons, we never stayed with anyone we didn't already know or had friends in common.

When we did have to find a hotel, we looked for truck stops or places close to airports which would generally be cheaper. They were always clean but very basic. After all, we were only going to sleep there so what more did we need? If we were meeting up with friends who stayed in nicer hotels, we would offer to split the cost, which ended up being a lot less than finding something on our own. Sometimes we could end up in a fancy hotel only paying $50 between the two of us. It was on this trip that we had valet service for the first time. How rich two poor girls felt!

For entertainment, we would look for those little booklets at the hotels on attractions. They often had two for one specials for tourist spots and listed free things like museums. There were times we stumbled on interesting places by accident. Once we found an old house that had been turned into the town museum. It was so tiny I doubt it is listed in any tourist books or websites but it was fun to explore. And we wouldn't have found it if we had booked our schedule ahead of time with attractions listed on the internet.


We got to meet a lot of people that we wouldn't have met if we had stayed in the popular tourist hotels and saw only the popular tourist attractions. Some of the people we met have become lifelong friends.

Besides getting to see the country when we couldn't afford a traditional vacation, I treasure the quality time I spent with my sister before our lives got busy. And I would recommend that if you want to travel and see the world or even the United States, don't wait to have a lot of money. My experience proves there are ways to do cheap travel and have a great experience. An experience that money can't buy.

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    • travelholidays profile image

      travelholidays 

      5 years ago from India

      Really Interesting hub .."We also stayed with friends and friends of friends instead of paying for a hotel room" nice concept here ha ha ha :)

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