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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

**All prices subject to change as data was collected in 2017-2018


Road trips are meant for mini vacations away from “home”. They are literally a part of the defining factor of a college student. However, with that in mind, how can one have a road trip without first taking a look at finances? As college students, we are filled with anxiety, constantly checking our bank account, and forever chained to local towns nearby in order to save gas money. But I say why not break away for a road trip, far away from the local cities, so that one can truly be free and enjoy a break from school. Well my friends, my girlfriend and I have a suggestion that has been tested and approved. We took a 15.5 hour drive from our college town to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Ezra Jeffrey Comeau
Ezra Jeffrey-Comeau / Unsplash

In September 2017, our school year had officially begun at Texas A&M University. Classes were going well so far and our routine set. It was about this time that we realized that we should take a summer vacation together to a place we have always wanted to visit, Colorado. So we started by making this extensive list. We first looked at a timeline: what dates would be best for our vacation, how long did we want our vacation, and where did we want to go. We settled for Colorado Springs, Colorado, and began the months long process of planning. 

Person Pointing at Black and Gray Film Camera Near Macbook Pro
Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels
First, we made a Google Doc between us and started with our goal location and relative travel time from where we were staying. On Google Maps, we routed and made note of the cities we would drive through as well as how far (time-wise) it would take for us to reach them. Once we figured those out, we set specific cities where we would stop to stretch and change drivers, fill up on gas, and get food. We established that we could each drive for about 4 hours, more or less, and then that my car could go on 1 full tank of gas for 8 hours, so 2 tanks of gas total. From here, we made a timeline of things to do for the 7 days of vacation.

Scrabble tiles spell out \"To Do\" on a blue background above a yellow sticky note
Second, we made a to-do list of travel apps, hotels with personally set standards, and hotel price comparisons. With these hotel estimates per night, we created the most important part of the road trip for any college student; a budget. 

Patrick Spongebob Money
Lastly, we worked on the most fun part of the Google Doc. We made lists. We googled ideas and suggestions and came up with a list of activities we could do while in Colorado, a list of what to pack for the car trip, local restaurants we would drive by, rules for each other, car game ideas to keep from getting bored or sleepy during the long drive, and the typical girl’s packing list for any trip away from home. 

friends in scrabble letters
Hannah Rodrigo
All in all, by making this Google Document, we were able to keep costs down and plan ahead all within two months! Because we started saving money from our jobs and keeping spare change anytime we paid in cash, we were able to save almost enough for our budget. We cut the original budget of $3000 to $2,351.69, and then were actually able to keep all receipts and transactions so that at the end of the trip, we could compare how well we did. We ended up saving a total of $995.21 at the end of it all! So, as one college student to another college student, plan a road trip, take a vacation, and save money while still experiencing the world around you! Trust me, it’s worth it.




Colorado Springs, CO (14hr. 30min. From CSTAT)

Round 1: College Station, TX to Colorado Springs, CO

-About 15h.  Drive

    -LEAVE 7am, (going through Waco, Abilene, Lubbock, Las Vegas NM, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver)

STOP @ Abilene LUNCH ≈11:30am (spend 1 hr.) (4h. 25min. From CSTAT)

DRIVE- Lubbock (2hr 30min)3pm

STOP @ Las Vegas, NM (4hr 20min) DINNER ≈6:30pm MST (spend 1 hr.)

FINAL Destination CO Springs (3hr. 40min) by ≈11:30pm MST

-About 2 tanks of gas


GAS (PLUS take Dad’s gas can and have him fill it up)≈8 full tanks

  1. CSTAT
  2. Abilene (1/2 tank)
  3. Lubbock (1/4 tank)
  4. Las Vegas, NM (1/2 tank)
  5. Colorado Springs (1/2 tank)

       6.    CO Springs (1 tank)

       7.    Denver, CO (½ tank)

     8.   Random City (1 tank)

     9.   Back Home to CSTAT (1 tank)

Anna Schultz-Converse And Timbs Gas Station
Anna Schultz / Her Campus

**if no traffic


Day 1 (Thurs. 28)-leave CSTAT 7am and arrive @ destination CO Springs 11:30pm MST 

      FOOD: Lunch @ Abilene, Dinner @ Las Vegas, NM


Day 2 (Fri 29)-lazy day/maybe drive around town (Garden of the gods? 14/15min. drive); Air Force Academy (24min. drive)

Day 3 (Sat 30)-Air Force Academy (24min. drive)?; (possibly see Garden of the gods?)

Day 4 (Sun July 1)-check out Denver, CO

Day 5 (Mon July 2)-Drive to some random city to stay at

Day 6 (Tues July 3)-Drive back to CSTAT

Day 7 (Wed July 4)-Recovery day to relax 


(Second) TO DO LIST!!!


GasBuddy-find cheapest fuel around

FuelCalculator-budget gas

AroundMe-find restaurants, theaters, parking nearby 


-get estimates on hotels for CO. Springs, CO (4 nights); Random CITY (1 night)

-discounts in or around the cities; look for check-in/check-out times (LOOK for express check-in/out)!!, find places with “free cancellation”, CHECK Priceline 48hrs. b/f; call to book online and verify information, ask if any student discounts




Knights Inn CO Central [$252, 5.5/10, 719-471-0990, 2409 E Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO]



Knights Inn CO Central [$252, 2/5]



Knights Inn CO Central [$248, 3.6/10 (2.6 stars), 719-471-0990, 2409 E Pikes Peak Ave]

Super 8 HWY 24 E/PAFB Area [$272, 5.3/10(2.8 stars), 719-362-5200, 605 Peterson Rd]

Days Inn CO Garden of the Gods [$300, 4.6/10(2.9 stars), 719-598-1700, 4610 Rusina Rd.]



Knights Inn CO Central [$252, 5.5/10]

Super 8 [$275, 5.7/10]

Days Inn CO Airport [$300, 6.3/10]



Days Inn CO Airport [$252, 5.1/10 on booking.com]

Super 8 [$260, 5.8/10 on Expedia]

Howard Johnson Express Inn [$300, 6.0/10 on booking.com]

Howard Johnson (…)≈$42 a night for 4 nights=$168 (Priceline), $170 for 4 nights (WowAir/Booking.com), or $48 a night for 4 nights=$192. CHECK-IN/OUT: ? INCLUDES: free parking, breakfast, WiFi, swimming pool, free cancellation, 6.1 mi  from Air Force, 7.6 mi from Garden of gods*

Super 8 (4604 Rusina Road)≈$53 a night for 4 nights=$212. CHECK-IN/OUT: Express check-in/out INCLUDES: Free breakfast, Free WiFI and parking, 8 miles from Air Force Academy, 4 miles from Garden of the gods*

            Rodeway Inn (520 N. Murray Blvd.)≈$54 a night for 4 nights=$216. CHECK-IN/OUT: Express check-in/out INCLUDES: Free breakfast, Free WiFi, free parking, free cancellation*

Anton Belitskiy
Anton Belitskiy / Unsplash
Budget: $3000 max ($1000 gas, $300 hotels, $200 car stuff/travel food, $500 each for food, $500 extra for events)


(Third/Lastly) Activities:

-horse back riding




-make a list of items needed for the car/trip (emergency kit, car stuff, foood)

EMERGENCY kit-band aids, pain pills, motion sickness meds, gum, peppermints, tattoos (If I am lost, please call…), flashlight w/batteries, rain poncho, 2”x6” piece of wood to prop jack, sturdy gloves, wheel wedge to keep car from rolling when changing spare

Car Stuffbrake fluid, anti-freeze, oil (oil change), spare gas can, spare tire, tire jack, window wiper fluid, GPS? (prepare for if NO CELL SERVICE), camera!!!, trash bag, phone chargers, aux, jumper cables, tool kit (tire iron)

FOOODSPB, bread loaf, honey, silverware, water bottles and refillable bottles, trail mix, goldfish, chocolate chip cookies, crack, snacks in a tackle box, candy


-look for a list of restaurants/fast food at the locations to stop at

TRIPADVISOR; see YELP for price range and reviews (under $10, at least 4 stars)

Day 1

Day 2: Colorado Lazy day-Mod Pizza, Sandy’s Restaurant (burgers), Rudy’s Little Hideaway Rest (burgers), Bambino’s Pizza, El Taco Rey, Margo’s Vienna Station (hot dogs…YUCKY), Bird Dog BBQ, Pho and Grill, Salsa Latina

Day 3: CO Air Force-Duca’s (pizza), Texas Roadhouse, Costa Vida, Indus Modern Kitchen (Indian) ($11-30), Tao’s Oriental (go for LUNCH only), Ivy’s Chinese Cafe ($11-30), Papa Murphy’s (pizza), Zoup (soup and sandwich), Rodolfo’s Mexican, Great Harvest Bread (like Panera), Borriello Brothers ($11-30), Tea & Coffee Zone(BUBBLE TEA!!!), Starbucks, Cafe Velo(go for the drinks), Cold Stone, New Panda (go for LUNCH only), Diggy’s Diner

women eating and drinking wine in a restaurant
Pexels / bruno mars

  1. No sliding down the stair railings
  2. No going into the middle of traffic anywhere 
  3. Don’t get hustled; don’t feel sorry for people
  4. Don’t stay up late on nights we have to get up early
  5. Don’t be too Texan
  6. Don’t take drinks/food from strangers
  7. Always use crosswalks 


-car games/music/rambles

  • Yell every time you see a cow and cross a state
  • VW Slug Bug!
  • Anal Game-adding the word “anal” before the name of every RV you pass
  • Radio Rush-change the radio every 10 minutes to random stations
  • Name that Tune
  • Hold your breath through tunnels
  • Randomly yell whenever the other person is asleep/falling asleep, especially if you are about to fall asleep too
  • 20 questions-you think of a person, place, thing and have 20 Qs to guess
  • License plate game-write down all the plates you see
  • Alphabet game-list fruit, veggies, locations, people, animals, Aggie stuff
  • Story line-you say a sentence, I say a sentence, and build a story
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Make a story for passing cars about the family and where they are going, who they are, and stuffs
  • Would you Rather
  • Fortunately/Unfortunately-list a fortunate thing that will or has happened that day and go back and forth saying “unfortunately..”, “fortunately..”
  • Spelling Bee
  • Name the car models and types as they pass
  • Who Am I?-think of someone you know and describe them. The other person can only ask yes or no questions
  • Alphabet memory game (a=apple, b=banana,…)but each person repeats what the last one said going back and forth
  • Polar Plunge?-in the cold, take off clothes and roll windows down. Whoever can last in the cold air longest wins.
  • Mad Libs books
  • Soft Drink challenge-who has to pee first
  • Eye contact and silly faces as people pass by
  • Poem-say a sentence, other person has to rhyme 2nd sentence, and switch so on for a poem all together
  • Thumb wars
  • Say things backwards, like the pledge of allegiance, ABCs,..
  • Alternate Uses-pick an item and choose many uses for it
  • 2 truths and a lie
  • Word rhymes-say a word, other person says a word that rhymes, and keep going until last person can’t come up with anything
  • Tell jokes
  • What Does It Stand For-take license plates and make acronyms/phrases out of the letters
  • If you were a/an _______, you would be a __________ (ex: animal, tiger)
  • “Sitting in this car is better than,…..”
  • Use dry erase markers and draw on window
  • Memory Lane

Anete Lusina
Anete L?si?a / Unsplash
Packing List:

  • Travel insurance documents
  • Itineraries (including accommodation details)
  • Currency & credit/debit cards
  • Emergency contact details for credit card, bank & mobile phone provider
  • Mobile phone, laptops
  • Electronic chargers
  • Medication/medical alert cards & emergency contact details
  • Medical Kit (pain relief, plasters, antiseptic cream, bandages etc)


  • Soap/body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Brush/comb
  • Shaving supplies
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss


  • Jacket/Sweater/Cardigan
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Jeans
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sleepwear
  • Belts
  • Jewellery
  • Dress shoes
  • Casual shoes
  • Stain stick

TIPS: roll clothes and put in closed zip baggies, roll small items in shoes, one open dryer sheet in each bag to keep smelling fresh, take lots of zip lock bags, laundry detergent/color catchers/dryer sheets, to avoid bottle leaks like shampoo/conditioner bottles take off the lid and wrap cling wrap on it before putting the lid back on and then tape around the bottle

Summer sun essentials

  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hats
  • Insect repellent
  • Beach bag
  • Waterproof cover for electronics (phone/tablet)
  • Swimsuits
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Disposable wipes

TIPS: keep a bottle of all loose change collected over the trip

person holding money
Sharon McCutcheon
(All in All/Fin) HAVE Saved by May 2018: $2,291.69. 

Cut budget travel food to $50, $400.84 EACH for food, and $200 for events

 WILL THEN HAVE/NEED $2351.69 (original Budget $3,000)



Gas-spent $160.41

Hotels-spent $307.36

Car/Travel-$10.21 left

Jenna Food-saved $95.65

Angelica Food-saved $94.91

Event Extra-spent $174.61

Angelica personal spent-$40.92


CHANGE Extra-$37.82


SAVED $1065.75

ACTUAL saved w/hotel costs $995.21

Howdy! My name is Angelica Frazer, and I am a senior Animal Science major from Sherman, TX. I love dogs and nature and dogs and Aggie tradition, and did I mention that I love....animals:). My passions are to do photography for fun, sleep on the 5th floor of the library, and train service dogs for Veterans. All in all, I am a very outdoorsy person that aspires to become a veterinarian someday.