I am slowly coming to realize that I am an adult, with adult responsibilities and while it seems to be the trend to hate this stage of life, I am embracing the fact that everything I choose to do I can do because it is my life. When my partner and I decided to turn a friends wedding weekend into a week long road trip through Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, I decided I was going to make the most out of my new found adulthood. We planned this trip for a pretty long time, a whopping four months to be exact, is this a long amount of time? It sure felt like it. Regardless, I would recommend planning really far in advance since I have learned (the hard way) that you can really never plan enough and there will always be unexpected costs and delays, you kinda have to learn to role with stuff and if you cant…it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
First things first: budgeting! Some tips that I learned along the way for pinching pennies (or nickels if you’re Canadian because we don’t have pennies):
- Stay outside of a popular city – the accommodations in Nashville were much more expensive than smaller towns around the city. Since we had a rental car we decided to save some money and stay further from the city, an hour to be exact. This meant that we wouldn’t be able to party as hard but it did mean that we would be able to visit Memphis and Graceland.
- If leaning towards staying in a hotel check into ones that have breakfast included. We stayed in the Econolodge in Tennessee and the Fairfield Inn in South Carolina, we loaded up on breakfast foods in the morning and weren’t hungry until dinner.
- Bring snacks for the trip! We brought granola bars that we munched on during the day to make sure we weren’t starving when dinner rolled around. This was a great choice and we went to Costco before leaving Canada, so we brought a huge box with us.
- Stay with friends – when we reached the wedding destination we had a friend stay with us and split the cost of the room. The room with two queens was cheaper and we got to hang out with a friend we don’t see very often.
- Shop around and look into discounts – we waited for three months before booking a rental car and it just so happens that my father is a Costco member and ended up booking our car for us and we saved over $200 dollars.
- Every night we would count our cash and determine the amount of money that we spent that day and how much we had left. This was not my favourite part of the trip but it is necessary to stick to a budget and it kept us grounded.
- Souvenirs – on a different note, am I the only one who thinks buying gifts for people who were not on the trip with you is pretty weird? Anyways, I set a small budget for this (between $5 and $10). Keeping these trinkets small and on a budget can be very hard when visiting a popular city so you may have to shop around. My tip is to avoid gift stores inside of museums and other tourist areas, this may take some time but your bank account will thank you later. The duty free is another great, cheaper option, mainly because your trip is over and any extra cash can be exhausted on gifts.
This was a great learning experience for me and I loved the planning of this trip, it is so neat finding things to do along the way. Looking back the only thing I would change would be: SAVE MORE MONEY!! It is honestly never enough and you don’t want to miss out on doing something or eating somewhere because you are low on cash, you also don’t want to make it a habit of charging things to credit, it is all down hill from there. I have heard that road trips either bring you closer to the ones you love or they rip you apart; fighting in a closed space does sound like hell. I can confirm that this statement is very true, my boyfriend and I had a great time and it definitely brought us closer together and we are already planning a skew of small trips throughout Ontario! Stay tuned for more life lessons learned on the road.