Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Days 12 and 13; Golf and a note about costs.

These are lounge around days that include golf in morning and lot of relaxing and reading during the day. 

Just a note about costs on our trips. 

We road trip because we get an enormous bang for our buck by driving and hiking.  Flying anywhere is expensive.  Flying and renting a car is more, and flying, renting a car, and constantly eating out makes the trip cost prohibitive.  This year’s trip has a budget of about $5000.  That’s for everything; lodging, gas, food, everything for the anticipated 8,000 miles.  How do we keep costs down?

-Gas is cheaper nearly everywhere other than California.  Some places are a full dollar cheaper than Northern California, so that’s nice.  Our preferred app for finding cheap gas is Gas Buddy. 

-We almost never eat an expensive meal out.  We might, MIGHT, have one fairly pricey meal per trip.  But we are so often disappointed that we have stopped really trying local food.  Hell, Northern California has excellent food.  

-We ask for Chipotle gift cards for Christmas and holidays, and that becomes are primary method of eating out.

-We do eat McDonalds but only for quick breakfasts and a Diet Coke.  So in the afternoons we have a large $1 Diet Coke with lemon.  We order separately.   Then we take the receipt and do the online survey, where we then receive a code for a buy-one-get-one Egg McMuffin.  We do it for both receipts.  Then we go into McDonalds and order the Egg McMuffin but with egg whites only.  Then we take those receipts and do it all over again.  Easy, cheap breakfast. 

-Lunches on the road are Costco.  $3 for a two dogs and sodas.  If there is no Costco we make sandwiches and eat while driving.

-But most of our food is taken with us.  Breakfast is Starbucks Via coffee and the big Costco Quaker Oatmeal.  Lunches on the trail are sandwiches that we make from supplies from Wal-Mart.  Dinners are a salad and Cup-O-Noodles.  Believe it or not our bodies are screaming for the salt of Cup-O-Noodles in the evening after a long hike.  We add different hot sauces and lime to them to change them up.  Snacks are chips or cracker in portion-controlled packs, usually from Wal-Mart.

-Yes, Wal-Mart is awesome.  Super Wal-Marts are everywhere, they are cheap, and they are easy. 

-We buy a National Park Annual Pass at the beginning of the month and it will last a year to the end of the month.  We bought our pass at the beginning of July 2014.  It will end July 31, 2015.  It gets us into all National Parks, Monuments, BLM lands, Refuges, you name it. 

-Lodging is the most expensive thing.  We don’t camp.  We stay some time with relatives.  We use points and free nights.  And we research the hell out of places.  I’ve racked up a lot of points from all the basketball player rooms for tournaments and I got points for my Marriott room when I graded AP tests.  That gave us four nights of free rooms plus with the Best Western Summer Promotion, we will have enough for free nights later on.  The most expensive hotels are free to us with points.  We also research a ton.  Most hotels are under $100 until we get around Glacier National Park, in which case we simply have to pay up.  We also look at cabins and VRBO.  We also book early and change when we find cheaper fares.   

-We save for the trip and buy throughout the year for the trip.

-There are plenty of free audiobooks and podcasts for the drive, and plenty of books to read while relaxing at night.

-We take wine with us in the car and it must be cheap.  Our preferred include Meridian Chardonnay from Safeway, Trader Joe’s Box White, Trader Joe’s Riesling, Beringer Chardonnay, Trader Joe’s Sangiovese, and any local wines we come upon. 

Costs spread out over the year make this kind of trip doable.  And every year we seem to be able to do a better and better job saving money.    

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