A few days before Christmas, we drove out to California to visit Bret’s family. We’ve done this a few times and I think this year was the cheapest so far.
Here are a few tips we learned this year.
- Get a rewards credit card to use while you travel AND to build up points before you leave. We use the Capital One Venture card, the lower point one that gives you 1.25 points per dollar spent. We accumulated points to get a $100 ExxonMobile gift card.
- Take a fuel efficient car. We drove a Honda Civic. It gets about 30-35 miles per gallon.
- Take refillable coffee mugs, at least 2. You can get cheap coffee refills and you can also get hot water for free. You can use the hot water for tea and cup of noodles.
- Purchase food and drinks in a grocery store. It’s good to know what you normally get on the road. We purchased energy drinks, sodas and bottled water. For food we got bread and stuff for sandwiches, cup of noodles, sunflower seeds and crackers. We put the drinks and lunch meat in a cooler on the front seat. Then you have easy access to everything when you’re driving.
- In the back seat, set up a bed. It’s good to put some bags in the foot room spaces to make the seat a little wider. Backpacks are best in our car. One person sleeps while the other drives.
- We only stopped at a hotel once.
Here’s the numbers breakdown:
Gas – $267.68
Mileage – 2,896
Food – $145.76 (note: Some of the food we bought at the grocery store will last us through the return trip home. So I’d say one way would be about $110.00. We also splurged on a sit down dinner when we checked in to the hotel and that was about $40.)
Hotel – $57.98
Total cost to drive from Northern Central Maryland to Central California – $471.42
If we didn’t stop at a hotel and took out a few food splurges our total would have been – $322.78
What have you found that helps to make the trip more inexpensive?
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