Friday, October 21, 2016

Nine Ways We Saved on Cross-Country Travel

In the past two weeks, we put more than 2900 miles on the Outback, thanks to a teaching gig in North Carolina for me (and a class for the Brick), and an unexpected funeral we needed to attend in Kansas City. But we also did it at minimal cost, compared to what we could have shelled out.

What did we do?

*Drove instead of flying. If we'd flown, it would have meant renting a car after we got there -- Brasstown, NC is way up in the Appalachians. And what would we have done about suddenly cancelling our vacation plans? I am very grateful we drove, because we could adapt. (Not to mention that two plane tickets --since the Brick came with -- would have been considerably more than the $200 we spent on gas.) I also was able to take a lot of extra quilts, fabrics and other goodies for class that would not have fit into suitcases.
     Gas is not that expensive right now. And we enjoy seeing the scenery. I read books to the Brick. (This last one was Bigfoot experience stories, who would have figured?!) We rehash what's happened in our lives lately, work out problems and plan for the future. I love being with my best friend and doing this. He enjoys it, too.

     On the way home, we also stopped at the Russell Stover factory outlet in Kansas for some great-priced chocolates, and a hot fudge sundae. Oh, the sacrifice.

*Booked hotel reservations online...even though we were on the road. This gave us a better price, but still let us make plans (and changes) quickly. And during this trip, adapting was essential.
     I like using Hotels.com via Swagbucks, which gives you a good price plus points back we can use on gift cards and other goodies. It's free, easy to use, saves you money -- and they don't sell your info. Click on the link, and you'll see what I mean.

*The hotels had free breakfast included. Basic, yes, but it meant we could eat quickly and get back on the road, without having to stop again or search around.

*Coffee and snacks came from breakfast, too. We brought along our travel mugs and filled them at the coffee station. An apple and banana grabbed from the fruit basket filled in the edges until suppertime.





*Drove all night. True, it wasn't what we'd planned -- but it was the only way to get to the funeral on time. And it did give us extra leeway for the unexpected. (More on that in a bit.) Driving late means the weather is cool, there are fewer people on the road -- and you can still get gas, thanks to credit cards (at closed stations) and 24-hour autoplexes. Food too, bless 'em.
     If you get too tired, there is always the possibility of a quick snooze at a rest stop. Which is what we did.

*Knew where the cheapest gas was in each area. The Brick uses Gas Buddy, a free online app that tells you just where to go.





*Started with a vehicle that was gas-efficient. Our Subaru Outback gets 27-35 MPG, even in city driving. We drove steadily, and used cruise control most of the time to keep the speed even. (Cuts down on speeding tickets and 'Oh oh, I see an officer' panic moments, too.)

*Used GPS...so we didn't get lost. Even in the middle of 'nowhere,' we knew where we were. Not only does that cut down on wasted gas and time, it gives you peace of mind. Especially at midnight on a pitch-dark mountain road. Now, if the Chattanooga road construction people would only get their act together...

*We (and God's grace) took care of an auto problem ourselves. While we were packing to leave, the car suddenly wouldn't start. Dead battery. My assistant 'jumped' it with her van's cables. Everything went fine, until 3:30 a.m., when it went dead again. Now what?
     Thanks to a trucker who was entering the rest area bathrooms when I was exiting (a 'coincidence,' right?), we got another battery jump. That took us two more hours, where we waited (car idling) for a Wal-Mart auto center to open. We paid $100 and change for the battery -- but it would have been a lot more if we'd called for a tow truck.


Now that I've had a rest, and several days of the Brick's wonderful coffee (don't other places know how to make good coffee??), I'm ready to hit the road again. But it won't be me this time -- I'll take care of home things while the Brick and his buddies go hunting. 

       If you're stuck at home too, you might enjoy traveling with Rae Crothers. She's been touring Europe for weeks, including out-of-the-way places like Albania and Bulgaria, and posting almost daily photos and accounts of her adventures out there. 
     I'm loving her blog, 'A Life By Design.' You will, too.









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Zzzzzzzz...

After four hours at Tuesday Morning's checkout line today, I can honestly relate. Okay, maybe a nap AND a cookie.