Road Trip Essentials

Obviously, the most important thing to a road trip is a car – and I just recently got a new one! After having many struggles with my first and only car, a 2006 Kia Sportage with over 200,000 miles, I made the jump to a 2016 Subaru Forester. I rented one when I drove to the Oregon coast and loved it so much,  I had my eye on it when car shopping. Of course, I got green! I picked this size because it’s not overly big but still fits my road trip mattress in the back. I talked about road trips quite awhile ago, mainly focusing on car camping: The Good of Roadtrips, the Bad of Car Camping. But today I’m sharing some things I always try to have on a road trip! Always be prepared.

Instead of blowing money on whatever mediocre snacks I can find at the gas station I stop at, I always try and get snacks a couple of days before a road trip. Not only does this help me save money, it helps when I know I have something I’ll want (that’s also healthy!). I will usually bring protein bars, like Clif, RX, or Lara. I love bringing a bag of apples because that freshness is always welcome when you’ve been in the car for a few hours. And weirdly enough, chips and salsa is one of my favorite road trip snacks! It’s easy enough to dip straight out of the jar and easy to keep mess-free if you’re careful (or not driving). I’ll also pack pb&j ingredients because it’s my favorite hiking food, but after a terrible mishap in California I’ll never make another sandwich while on the road again.

The truth of road trips is you’ll probably have to have fast food now and again if you’re trying to save time and want something warm. Being a vegetarian, it’s not always easy to get something good. I’ve definitely learned where my favorite stops are. The market base salad at Chik-fil-A is great because it’s cheaper without the meat and is full of yummy fruits and nuts. I’ve also become a fan of the simple egg biscuit at McDonald’s. I’ve learned that too much fried food when stuck on a road trip is a bad idea, so I definitely try and stay away from fries and hashbrowns even though they’re so delicious. Of course, it’s not always easy to count on a certain fast food place to be around on the route, so I’ve learned to be flexible with the side items on the menu.

There’s only a couple of comfort items I keep on hand, mainly because I usually have a bed made up in the back. It’s an old futon mattress I cut to make it a single or double sized depending on how many of us are on the trip. We usually make it with one sheet, one pillow, and one blanket so that stuff doesn’t take up too much room. (Especially when we also have our sleeping bags with us.) One of my most important items is a pair of easy slip-on shoes no matter the weather. Getting out for a tank fillup without shoes – or having to put on boots – is so obnoxious that I always throw some sandals in my door side. It’s a no-brainer and I have a few pairs at all times in my car, but sunglasses are obviously essential for any road trip.

One of my favorite thing about road trips is discovering new things you hadn’t even thought to  look for. It’s important to know in your trip itinerary when you have extra time for stops. It’s when I leave this time that I love looking for billboards or shops that look fun or interesting. These random stops are responsible for me checking out the Georgetown caves in Texas, stopping to pet a baby alligator in Louisiana, and  the cute coffee shop find in the middle of nowhere New Mexico.

It’s important to note there’s a few things I bring just in case of emergencies. I always have a lot of stuff for the car: spare tire, automatic air pump, various fuses and tools for easy fixes. I always have lots of water just in case. (Water! Yes! Always water, usually in jugs that I pour into the two different water bottles I have with me.) I always have my taser just in case. (Especially if I’m camping or doing a lot of night driving.) I also always have my mini first aid kit with me because accidents do happen. I got a splinter at a gas station once (gross) so I was glad to have the medical tweezers.

What do you bring on your road trips?

How I Travel on an Admin’s Salary

Let’s get real. I do not work remotely. I do not make more than 50k a year. I pay all my own bills. Yet I’m able to travel an average of one or two trips a month. How do I do it? To be completely honest, the main thing is priorities. I had to choose to make traveling one of the top things on my list.

I don’t usually get to have the glamorous vacation some Instagrams will show off, nor do I get to go to the top destinations all over the world. Luckily for me, every where is on my bucket list. And luckily for me, nature is pretty cheap. Still, there’s a couple of choices I’m making constantly to save money for travel!

Thrifting
I used to have such a shopping addiction. I mean, I guess I still do – but I switched over to thrifting instead of paying full price. The same amount that used to buy me one new top now buys me two whole outfits. I love resale and consignment shops because not only is it better for the environment, it also lets me keep my shopping habit!

Poshmark & thredUP
Those same shops I buy at don’t always have the best deal when I want to sell to them, so I’m glad I’ve discovered a couple of apps that get me a better profit. Poshmark is good for selling items at a higher value- you list the price and get to work with your customers on haggling, so expect your income to take a little longer than other resale spots. thredUP is good for getting you a fair price while cleaning out a lot at once. I do this when I’ve been holding on to too much for a while, but I still know I can get money from it.

Sell books
I buy a lot of books, mostly at library sales, garage sales, and Half-Price Books. All of this saves me money, but I also can turn right back around and sell at HPBooks. I only sell what I would never lend to a friend, so this is good for when I go overboard buying second hand. I don’t want to hold on to any books that didn’t give me a good time (a good philosophy to live by for anything)!

Second Job (Postmates)
At the beginning of deciding to travel, I had a second job as a part-time barista at Starbucks. I always think about going back – thinking at the moment if I’m being honest – but there’s other small ways I can earn money. One of these is Postmates, a food delivery service. It was so easy to sign up, and I work a few hours a month for some extra traveling cash. No strangers get in my car, and I find a lot of great new food spots this way!

Eating In
Speaking of new food spots, I have to admit I try to only do this once or twice a week. My boyfriend and I hold each other accountable by only buying a meal out once a week. Any time I want to eat out (because I’m a terrible cook), he reminds me of our deal. I’ve discovered you don’t have to be fancy, most of the time when I eat in I just make a Caesar salad and I’m never upset!

Buy What You Need
The main way I save a lot of money is any time I’m about to buy something I ask myself, “Do I need this?” I find myself constantly cleaning out my home and having to donate and throw away so much stuff I didn’t actually need. As a modern society, it seems we all collect junk we loved for less than a month. Now when I’m eyeing some new throw blanket, I compare it to what that money could be getting me. That blanket or a tank of gas to my next adventure?

These are just some tips, and I’ll admit I’m not always perfect. (Just this week I bought an extra pair of sunglasses instead of just the one.) But I try! It’s all about priorities and if you ask me, experiences will outweigh any material object every time.