It’s easy to feel trapped during the summer; most of us spend the majority of those three months sitting behind desks at internships, living at our parents’ houses, or shut up in collegiette budget-friendly apartments that would work really well... as walk-in closets. If you and your friends are feeling stifled and need to fly the coop – but don’t have the funds for a pricey plane ticket – plan a road trip! After all, is there any better way to get in the summer spirit than by hitting the highway, blasting Sheryl Crow’s “Everyday Is a Winding Road,” and exploring the country? We spoke with collegiettes who have braved the interstates to get the skinny on planning, budgeting, packing, passing time... anything and everything you’ll need to know before you buckle up and hit the road.
Determine Your Budget
Sure, you’ll save some major dough by not buying a plane ticket to Europe or falling victim to that pesky exchange rate this summer, but you won’t be able to get by on only the stray coins lodged in your seat cushions if you want a real road trip experience. Laura Baugh, a rising senior at Virginia Tech, estimates that she spent about $500 during her recent four-day cross-country trip from California to Virginia.
$500 is steep, but there are plenty of ways to cut back on your cross-country spending. Campsites are a great option for collegiettes who want some fresh air after a day in the car and who don’t mind skipping the hair dryer, and they only cost about $10 to $40 per night as opposed to the $50 you would probably spend on a motel. You can also make use of the barbecue grills at the site, so you’ll be able to swap an expensive restaurant bill for cheap groceries (plus you’ll look like a champ flipping burgers). If you pack lots of snacks and choose well-reviewed local restaurants over chains, you can estimate that you’ll spend about $25 to $50 per day on food per person.
If you’re low on funds and want to keep your bank account alive and breathing, play around on RoadTrip America’s Fuel Cost Calculator to determine how many miles your car can drive given today’s gas prices (keep in mind they change from state to state!) before you reach your budget cap. You and your friends will likely be splitting the cost, so sit down and talk about your personal limits together before making any plans. Keep in mind that you’ll need to budget for gas, food, lodging, sightseeing, attraction entry fees, and any souvenirs you want to bring home to prove that you did in fact lay eyes on the world’s largest ball of string – and that it really was enormous.
Plan Your Trip
So you’ve drawn up your daily spending limits and used the Fuel Calculator to determine just how far your little-engine-that-could will make it on your dime. Now you just need to know where to go and how to get there.