Travel’s not always a luxurious endeavor. It doesn’t always look like the inside of a Conde Nast magazine. Sometimes you’re not really sure whether or not the bed you’re sleeping in has bugs in it. Most of the time you don’t want to know, and you certainly don’t want to think about any other possibilities of what might have happened on it.
The point is, sometimes it’s necessary to travel cheap. Sometimes you have to cut costs to see the important sights you want to see that matter more than whether or not you have a toilet that flushes (read: camping).
During the planning of a future roadtrip with a friend from the U.K. I met in Perth, I was debating the possibility of sleeping in my car to save on lodging costs. “I own my car, I have blankets and sleeping bags and pillows,” I thought. Who needs a hotel room?
These thoughts led me to this article which quite specifically details the ins and outs of car sleeping. Wal-Mart parking lots are a go, as are (based on some commenters) hospital parking lots and quiet, neighborhood streets where you could just be some random teenager’s friend’s car who’s spending the night (sorry for all the possessives).
The only problems I see with car sleeping are the risk that you could have your car broken into-less likely in a neighborhood-while you’re in it and extreme heat or cold. Besides those things, I think it’s a fair way to get in zs on a trip without spending too much money on a hotel you’re not going to be spending much time in.
Hostels are few and far between in the US. I’m not even quite sure how prevalent they are in North America as a whole. I know when I was in Australia, they were on every corner and only meant $20 dollars for a bed and some sheets with the opportunity of wifi if you were really lucky.
I also know that I trust my car a little bit more when it comes to sleeping history and cleanliness.
Camping is another pretty cheap option, but it helps to have the equipment, otherwise the costs add up quickly– at least for the first trip. Some campsites even have showers (woo!) and they usually have pretty good hiking and sightseeing nearby.
Not eating at restaurants and fast food places can be a pretty good money saver as well, but it’s harder to keep food preserved. For the roadtrip, I’m planning on having a really nice cooler to tote along with us. We’ll just have to figure out bear prevention for that bit.
When it comes to driving trips, obviously a significant way to save is to bring more than one person. That way you split gas and other costs and you have more than one person’s music to keep you entertained. Hopefully the two (or more) of you get along though, because on a roadtrip, you could end up like these guys:
Now I just need a Passat or a Prius.