We hit the road! Great Lakes here we come! We saved our goal for our summer road trip. How do I know how much to save? Gas, lodging, and food are easy calculations. It’s equally important to have an idea of your activities so you can plan those expenses too. Then, I take whatever number I have in my head and add 20%. We usually come back from vacation under budget.
This year, our summer vacation is going to be a long one BUT we’re staying in a family cabin with my sister for free. We only need to cover the cost of food while we are there and we usually come in well under budget since cooking for large groups is less expensive (at least the way we do it!). This usually entails very detailed meal planning and a trip to Sam’s Club together the first day we arrive to buy bulk.
I also revamped our on-the-road menu. Last summer when we headed north, we drove through fast food on long travel days. It’s crazy expensive for a family of 6 but it seemed easier at the time. On those days, none of us felt great. Combine sitting in a car for hours with greasy food and that’s not a surprise. This year, we decided to buy ingredients for deli and PB&J sandwiches. We plan to make them in the morning before we leave a stop and grab them from the RV fridge when we stop for midday gas. We also switched out some of our snack choices. Fewer chips and cookies, more granola and beef jerky. This one I’m less sure about. Sometimes it’s nice to stretch my legs at a gas stop, peruse the minimart, and then ultimately buy something completely unhealthy. Ugh. And I love an ice-cold Pepsi on a hot travel day.
We took in the truck for a tune-up and an all-over check. Our mechanic didn’t find anything that needed to be repaired for now but he did give us a heads up that we will likely need to replace the transmission next year. I’m not excited about that but I increased the monthly amount I budget for auto repairs to get ready for it. I have a feeling we’ll replace the truck by then but these days, so much is up in the air. Plan for the worst.
We also have a couple planned nights sleeping at truck stops. Sure, it’s loud right off the freeway but it’s free. We follow a couple rules here though, we never stay at truck stops off main thoroughfares. Truckers have a hard enough time finding a spot without an RVer trying to save a couple bucks taking a spot. We also don’t stay at a truck stop with less than 25% of the spots available even if it’s not on the main thoroughfare. The same reasoning applies here. We’ve been at enough truck stops to know that truckers are saints and they deserve an easy rest. In the case we can’t find a wide-open truck stop, we book a same-day stay online at a campground.
Plan those summer expenses. Save, save, save. Enjoy the heck out of your summer.