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What is it Like Traveling In a Car Across The USA?

Overall Benefits of Driving

Traveling to 48 States in a car is unarguably the most affordable way to see everything. Driving to tourist locations and stopping along the way, there’s much flexibility with your timeline and the stops between. As opposed to flying, you pay a premium for round trip to 1 destination.

Affordable Lodging

When you are traveling by car, there’s more than 1 way to rest for the night. You can stay the night at certain rest stops in your car, public lots like Walmart where it is allowed, a friend’s place, or blend in a quiet neighborhood. I saved thousands of dollars with this option by avoiding hotels 90% of my trip. There places like New York and California where you must get a Hotel for tourist reasons (and the State law). I chose to get a Hotel in Mississippi because I felt uncomfortable with the area I stayed.

Long Term Packing

Depending on how long you’re going and what season you’re traveling determines the amount of supplies you should bring. These are what I always bring when I go on my 30 day vacation journey:

  • Spare clothes, bathing supplies, raingear, hat, and sunglasses
  • Lotion, first aid, sunscreen, and sanitizer
  • Sleeping bag, pillow, ear plugs, portable AC/ humidifier
  • Portable cooler for buying food, snacks (we’ll talk about restaurant coupons later) and pack of 48 water bottles
  • Emergency kit for the car: flash light, spare tire, jumper cables, tire chains, zip ties, knife, and basic tools including scissors

Preplan Tourism

When you travel to a State, there’s no doubt that you’ll want to visit attractions that cost money. Before I leave for my trip, I plot major attractions, search for deals, and plan itinerary accordingly. Know how much you want to spend on your trip and leave room for unexpected expenses. I’ve done most of the tourist deal research for you by listing special offers available in each State.

Buy Food As You Go

Part of the adventure in traveling is trying different food. In my case, I hunt for bargains and eat out where coupons lure me. I’ll buy a BOGO dinner and eat my 2nd meal for breakfast. If you don’t mind eating food cold, this is a convenient option. Otherwise, you can go to a gas station and microwave your food. Find restaurant deals in the State you are traveling through.

Expenses Associated with Your Car

It’s hard to believe that fuel is $5/gal in many states. It’s a given that you’ll be spending $50 every 300-500 miles unless you have a hybrid vehicle. You may as well earn rewards for all of your purchases with credit cards and save on gas with these rewards. You’ll want to top off your fluids, check up with a mechanic, and carry spare coolant before you leave.

What Are The Cons of Traveling Long Term in a Car?

  1. Although this kind of vacation allows you to experience more for less, you’re sacrificing comfort, convenience, and security. When sleeping in your car, you may experience uncomfortable positions, lingering heat, and noisy ambiance. Finding a place to stop for the night can also be stressful. Many states have rules on how long you can park at a rest stop as well as public lots. Furthermore, parking in a neighborhood may subject you to law enforcement investigation. There was one instance where I woke up in my car and I find a cop scanning my plates across the street. You’re an easy target when your plates are from another state.
  2. Anything can happen with the condition of your car. You’ll want to prepare in case you’re in an emergency situation and you end up far from the nearest town. I’d been fortunate to have no car problems, to not take drastic measures to get back on the road (just a flat tire).
  3. Compromising your home amenities and rationing meals. If you want to live out of your car, save lots of money, you won’t be showering or using much cosmetics. Your spending will be allotted to meals, gas, and tourist attractions if you’re going to follow this strategy.

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