Ways to Save Money

This is What a $50 Road Trip Looks Like — and It’s Way Cooler Than You Think

by Dana Sitar
Contributor

How far do you want to go during your next road trip?

You could hit the beach for Spring Break.

You could see the country this summer.

You could visit family for the holidays.

You could see a new city this weekend.

I LOVE road trips. Flights may be fast and efficient and — in the grand scheme of things — convenient, but a road trip is an experience.

It’s the whole “Life’s a journey, not a destination” thing.

Even if you don’t care about the vistas, you can’t deny driving’s affordability right now.

With the gas prices dropping and the cost of flying not quite following suit like we’d hope, that classic American road trip is looking more and more like a great idea.

How Far Can You Go on a Tank of Gas?

If you’re not convinced yet, check this out.

The cost-information website Howmuch.net created a series of maps showing just how far you can get on $50 in gas.

Based on current gas prices, it’s pretty impressive.

The maps show how far a $50 tank of gas will take you from 35 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and dozens more.

From Tampa, for example, I could get to New Orleans for Mardis Gras; Chattanooga for this free bluegrass concert; or Charlotte, North Carolina, to comfort Panthers fans. All for only $50.

I can get to Atlanta for $40 and Miami for $30.

cheap road trip

Howmuch.net under Creative Commons

Oh my goodness, I may have to sneak out of the office at lunchtime. I could be in Miami for dinner. Or Carolina by midnight.

From Kansas City, you could go as far as Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Colorado Springs.

From Denver, you can reach El Paso, Texas, or Salt Lake City.

From Chicago, you can get to Memphis, Tennessee, or Omaha, Nebraska (which is highly underrated by everyone who flies over it).

Plan a Cheap Road Trip

In case you’re skeptical, the data is “based on a car that consumes 24 miles per gallon, and uses gas price estimates from GasBuddy.com,” Howmuch.net reports.

Of course, a one-way road trip isn’t likely going to do you any good. And gas isn’t your only cost.

So how much will it really cost to take these road trips? Still not a lot — if you’re smart.

First, double the cost of gas, so you can get home. So it’ll cost me $100 to get from Tampa to Charlotte and back.

It’s a nine-hour trip each way, so I’ll want a full day in the city to really forge a connection with forlorn Panther fans. That’s two nights in a hotel or Airbnb, and I usually budget about $50 night.

Then I’ll have to eat at least six meals on the road. I’ll have them all at Waffle House, to up my chances of running into Cam Newton. They’ll cost about $7 apiece (gotta include coffee). So $42 for food.

I won’t have to spend money on entertainment, because I like free events and simple things, like walks and people-watching.

All told, that’s a road trip for $242.

If you’re outdoorsy (I’m not), you could save even more by camping and hitting up national parks, instead of 24-hour dive diners.

If $200-$300 doesn’t sound doable for you, try some of these weird ways to make extra money fast. You could be in Peoria by next weekend!

Your Turn: Where will your next road trip take you? What additional tips do you have for saving money on the road?

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes about writing, life, comedy and love for blogs and books and sometimes things people care about, like Huffington Post and that one time she had an article published in the Onion.

by Dana Sitar
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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