Budget travel is the way I prefer to
Last year, I road-tripped through Colorado and Wyoming and came in under my $500 budget, spending only $450. However, this year I came in over my $500 budget by nearly $300. My trip was an amazing trip, and I don’t regret spending so much money. And if you compare it to the average cost of a trip, $800 is still cheap for travel for 11 days covering 3,500 miles.
I left my hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas, at noon on Friday, Aug. 9. From there I drove to Tucumcari, New Mexico, and slept in my car for the night at the KOA. I left the next morning and drove to Monument Valley in the northeast corner of Arizona. Camping one night in Monument Valley, I then traveled to Zion National Park, where I spent four days.
I left Zion National Park on Thursday, Aug. 15, and drove northeast to Bryce Canyon National Park and then along the scenic Highway 12 to Capitol Reef National Park. I continued northeast and camped at the Green River, Utah, KOA. (That was an expensive night! But it’s in a prime location.) On Friday morning I woke up early and drove through Arches National Park and then Canyonlands National Park.
From there, I drove to Curt Gowdy State Park, in between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming, to attend a Hike Like A Woman retreat. I left the retreat on Sunday evening and drove to Goodland, Kansas, where I slept in my car at the KOA. And then I drove the rest of the way home.
Why so much over budget?
Normally I spend about $500 on a road trip that involves camping, hiking, and backpacking. The bulk of that money goes to gas, food, and camping fees. The distance to Utah and Wyoming played a factor in why I spent so much on gas. I also spent twice as much on camping fees as I normally do for reasons I’ll explain below. Because I traveled to extremely popular destinations, entrance fees also played a big park in coming in over budget – $100 to be exact. After investing in a Yeti Cooler, I came in a little under budget on food and did not get tired of peanut butter sandwiches.
Total cost $306.67
Road tripping plays a big role in budget travel. For my 11-day trip, I spent a total of $306.67 on gas. That is significantly less than the cost of a plane ticket, and even way less than the cost of a plane ticket plus a rental car, because most national parks are not home to airports.
Now, it did take me two days to get to Utah, but hey, it’s a road trip. I do need to note that I have a Honda HRV which gets pretty good gas mileage. All through my trip, I averaged about 30 miles per gallon.
Total cost $229.52
Utah and other states out west are full of Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land. Most of the time dispersed camping is allowed and will cost you nothing. But since I am a female traveling alone, I stayed at established campgrounds to keep my parents happy.
However, the places I stayed were coveted spots and those camping spots come at a premium. I also changed my plans and ended up paying for a night that I didn’t use. That was the night I stayed in Green River, Utah. So technically I spent $60
In total, I spent $229.52, well over the $100 that I normally spend on camping fees.
Total cost $39
Unfortunately, the backpacking trip I picked was not a loop which caused me to have to purchase a shuttle. I paid $39 for a shuttle to the trailhead of my backpacking hike.
Total cost $107
Traveling to five popular national parks is no cheap expense. Each park in Utah has an admission fee between $20 and $35 during the summer season. I bought an American the Beautiful Pass for $80 and am granted admission to any national park within a year’s time. Even though $80 is a large chunk of change for me, it saved me a ton of money by visiting five parks. Now, where should I go next to get even more miles out of it??
I also paid $20 to be admitted into Monument Valley, which is a Navajo tribal park.
While at the HLAW retreat we visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie, which cost $7.
So admission fees cost me a total of $107.
Total cost $106.39
I spent more money on food than needed. This was the first time that I had packed food in a cooler and wasn’t sure how much I would consume. I came home with two extra packages of cheese and a nearly-full tub of hum
My grocery store bill was $60, with food
I did eat out with friends and buy Starbucks on my drives a few times. And there was one time after a long hard hike in Zion National Park, I happened to find myself at the restaurant in at the
I spent a total of $106.39 on food during the entire 11-day trip.
I love to travel cheap, but sometimes you weigh the cost against the places you want to go to. When you travel to a