A friend recently asked for advice on driving across the country. Since we’ve done this a few times and are planning a trip this summer, I was excited to share. As I wrote most of the following (edited slightly to make it direct to y’all), I realized I have a passion for this. I love talking about certain things and inexpensive travel is one of them.
An old blog post about the drive.
Tips on saving money using a Southwest credit card.
To my wonderful readers! If you’re interested in getting the Southwest credit card, let me know your email address and I can send you some info. There’s a promotion right now where I get 5,000 miles for everyone who signs up and hits a minimum. If you spend $2000 in 3 months, you get 50,000 miles, which is enough for 2 round trip tickets. We’re big fans of Southwest. We’ve gotten to fly almost all the way to Cali to visit Bret’s family 3 times because of the cards. (We have two accounts with them). We’ve used the card for a while now, I’m able to pay it off online immediately (I’ve seen credit cards where you have to wait until it posts to the account before you can pay). lol, how else can I say I’m not trying to sell you something, we really do love Southwest and their credit card.
I will write a post tomorrow with some tips on how to rack up the Southwest miles! Some are without having to spend money!
Information about getting cheap RV rentals. There are great deals, but they’re locked in by location and dates.
I would recommend getting an America the Beautiful pass. It’s $80 for a year and gets you in to pretty much all of the national parks. From what I’ve read, it’s good for you and another person AND everyone in your car. So, I could put down my name and Bret’s and we’d both be on the pass. Then we can take people in if they’re in the car. I don’t know much more than that, so check out the website. Since we’re looking into driving the northern route this summer, we want to see Rushmore and Yellowstone, just the two parks almost pay for the pass itself. Since we live in Maryland, we’re so close to SO many National Parks that would count (Fort McHenry, Gettysburg [I believe], etc.), so it makes sense.
Choice hotels tend to have good deals, last time I looked into them, especially if are a choice hotels member (it’s free) and you can book them at least 10 days (though, I don’t recommend booking hotels that far in advance on a road trip, you have NO idea what will happen on the road). OR, if you have a southwest card, you can use Rocketmiles to book your hotel. You pretty much always get 1000 miles on top of the points you earn for the hotel itself. They tend to range about $20-30 more than most hotels, but 1000 miles is like spending $1000, so it works out well! The first stay gets you 5000 miles.
I just found some great deals on Amtrack. You can take a train from San Francisco to Baltimore for about $300. We’ve thought about renting a car and then taking the train back….or maybe getting a flight close to where we want to go and then driving the rest. Maybe Chicago and then drive from there to the other places.
Some tips – If you’re driving, ALWAYS stop when you’re tired. Even if it’s just for a little bit. Having a cooler and food with you is GREAT. There are more tips on that first link. Though, I will say, we’re NOT going to sleep in the back seat this time. We’re going to sleep in the passenger seat….don’t think it’s too safe, really.
Oh! Little known fact, the states in the south are really bad at taking care of snow! So if you’re driving in the winter, know what the weather is. We were stuck in Texas for 10 hours because of ice. My internet wasn’t working well, but I was able to call my mom and she finally figured out what was going on by calling the highway patrol. So I would get the highway patrol numbers for all of the states you’re driving through.
If you camp, look into parks versus big name campgrounds. We regularly camp at a state park and it’s only about $20 a night. Or there are mini cabins, at our state park, for about $55. So that’s something to consider too.
If you sleep in the car, Walmart parking lots are good as are big name gas stations like Pilot and Loves. DO NOT go to the bathroom in a small dinky gas station. lol, there was one place we stopped at in Tennessee or Kentucky and I swear, it was like I was walking through someone’s house. Ha ha, I don’t think we stopped at a no name place after that!
I would also say, figure out the places you HAVE to stop, then the places you’d like to stop and then the, it’s ok if it doesn’t happen. So, know what’s absolutely important and build the trip around that.
Highlights in our travels:
San Antonio, Texas
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Russells Truck & Travel Center, 1583 Frontage Road 4132, Glenrio, NM 88434 (lol, YES, a rest stop!)
Do you have any questions about cross country travel? Let me know in the comments!
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