We put together a little helpful list of useful tips for saving a little money on the road. The biggest one is always be prepared, when you put aside a “just in case” fund, put away about two more. Things are always more expensive then you anticipate. At the end of the day travelling is always worth it, even if you end up coming home a little earlier or finding another job a little sooner.
~Take full advantage of free beach showers anywhere possible~
* most state beaches have a surf shower, keep your eyes out for “No Soap or Shampoo” signs, sometimes the locals will get mad if you disobey them. Some campgrounds will let you use their coin operated laundry, if you’re sneaky you can sometimes pop in for a quick shower, especially if you’re there later in the evening. If all else fails, you can always freshen up in a Starbucks single room disabled bathrooms, to wash your face in private! Another one we have used is signing up for trial sessions at a gym, you can usually only do this one time at each gym, and you might have to sit through a 15 minute sales pitch but totally worth it to also use the equipment, free spa and showers! Public pools are also your best friend, they usually cost a couple dollars but also gives you access to a little indoor swimming while you are at it.
~Always cook your meals~
* Try to do one big grocery shop a week, planning ahead for meals throughout. Always cook more than you need, leftovers can be a whole other meal plus fewer dishes! (sidenote: eating right out of the pan saves a lot of dishes and water!) Bring snacks on walks or hikes in case you end up being longer than expected. No one likes a “hangry” hiking partner.
~Spend the time to research activities you want to do before you do them~
(sometimes they aren’t worth the money.)
* For example: when we went to Crystal River we could have paid $15 each and just paid our entrance fee to the park, but after a little research we found out that for a total of $45 we could get into the park as well as rent a dog friendly kayak for the day. Which meant we could paddle into the springs, actually be up close and personal with the Manatees and snorkel with them. After speaking to a local we also found out, after we paid the $45, that if you wanted to just walk up to the shores, you can stand there, see the Manatees and swim with them for free. Local information is also usually the best and most honest for the area, so get out, ask questions and talk to as many people as you can.
* Also, when we went to Jekyll island, Georgia, we wanted to check out Driftwood beach and all the GPS maps took us to the farthest northern point on the island. After we read reviews, we actually found out the better beach with more driftwood was a couple miles before the tip. They were absolutely right, we actually walked to the northern point and would have been extremely disappointed if that was all we saw.
~Always check the weather before you head to your next destination.~
* There has been a few times on past travels where the weather literally didn’t let us leave. When we were ready to catch our boat from Coron Island in the Phillipines a massive storm blew in and was too dangerous to be on the water, we lost our only way back to the mainland and almost missed our flight. On top of that, flooded roads causing closures, I have encountered earthquakes in California that have torn roads up and caused massive detours. We recently got stuck in a tornado in Sarasota that killed one person and injured four.
~Set a budget and stick to it.~
* sometimes things happen that are inevitable and cause you to have to open up your wallet more than you had planned but if you have a daily budget, you can make up for it in the days following. A few times a month, if me and Tom are a bit over our budget, we will do a van sweep, we can only eat whats in the van for the next 5 days or so. It forces you to be a bit more creative with meals, sometimes it works and sometimes it is terrible. Another way to make up the budget is sticking around in one destination for a few days, gas money can add up if you’re not careful. Filling your days with free outdoor activities like hiking, dog walks or swimming is an awesome money saver.
~Use free wifi without having to buy the coffee~
* If you really need the wifi but don’t really need a coffee, we have found if you park close enough to the Starbucks, Walmart or McDonalds you can pick it up from the parking lot. Which also means you can make your own coffee, or even better, have Tom cook you dinner! We have actually even slept in a couple parking lots in the wifi zone because even if the Starbucks is closed, the wifi stays on. If you want a nice quiet place to do some research with great wifi, The public library also offers free computers and you don’t need a library card!
~Master the art of Parking.~
*We like to play the game of Hide and Seek every night, Trying to find the most epic place to park our home. Sometimes we have to settle on the good old Walmart special, it’s actually a welcome sight when you’re really stuck or lost. We have been pretty lucky to not have any tickets issued to us in our travels but Tom and I already have our “yes sir, sorry sir” all worked out. Manners go a long way, and our Alberta license plate gives us a bit of forgiveness not to mention Tom’s British accent can usually get us a couple brownie points. During the day, if we are sleeping in the same city we are exploring, we will keep our eyes out for good places to sleep later that night. It’s a bit easier when you have your bearings to see what’s pretty quiet and safe and what’s not.