19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too. - FMVperformance.com : The site for all your Ford Mazda and Volvo needs
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

On June 1st I hit the road in my '09 Mazda3. Eighty-five days, 19,000 miles, 3 oil changes, and 38 states & provinces later, I'll have found myself in Tennessee (next week) to start anew. But what I really want to convey in this thread is how cheaply and easily this extensive road trip was done. The entire journey only put me out about $3,300, which equates to roughly $35-40 per day.

On that budget, you could do a two-week, cross-country-and-back trip for about $600 in an efficient car like the Mazda3. And that's traveling alone. Buddy up with a friend or two, split the bill, and you're really talking budget travel now.

The tricks? Well, you have to be willing to rough it a bit.

1. Sleep in your car. It's not that bad. Really, in the driver seat of the 3 with a pair of sweats folded into the crease (where the back meets the seat), it's perfectly fine. I'm 6'1" and had little problem getting a good night's rest. Where to park? Back corners of motel parking lots is usually a safe bet (and provides wireless Internet for your laptop, if you have one), but county parks, free campgrounds, some highway pull-offs and rest areas, and even truck stop and Walmart parking lots (if you don't mind lights and traffic) all work just as well. One in twenty times you'll have a tap on your window at 2am asking you to move, but never anything more. What to watch out for? Empty parking lots of closed businesses. Stick to 24-hour operations.

2. Shower at truck stops. Combined with sleeping in your car, this completely eliminates the need for motel rooms, which is the biggest money saver. The interstates are littered with truck stops/travel plazas (Pilot, TA, Loves, Flying J, etc.), but you'll even find some on the highways and state routes. Cost is usually $8-12, you get as much time as you need (so you can shave and clean up as well), everything is clean including fresh towels. And more often than not, soap is provided as well, but it's a safer bet to have some of your own just in case (as well as shampoo). I've also never run into a truck stop that was too busy at all, so don't worry about encroaching on truckers.

3. Eat wholesome & healthy. Restaurants and fast food are off the menu on the road. Best idea, in my opinion, is to decide on a meal plan before leaving, but you can also see what works best for you as you go. Grocery stores are everywhere, and have everything you need for a lot cheaper than any dine-in meals. My diet mostly consisted of garbanzo beans (good staple food), whole grain bread, peanut butter, fresh fruits, V8s, mixed nuts, and a daily protein bar and multivitamin. I'm already a healthy weight and didn't gain or lose a pound on this diet, and had plenty of energy. So barring special circumstances, I'm sure most anybody can do it.

4. Wash your clothes at laundromats. Again, along with points one and two, this eliminates the need for motels. Laundromats are in every town, big and small. They're not hard to find. Cost is usually a total of about $3-4 for one load of laundry. Extra bonus is, it sometimes gives you an opportunity to get to know a local or two in that town as well, which is something a lot of travelers pass up on. Truck stops also usually have coin-op washer and dryers, but usually only one set, so I avoid those to leave them to the truckers who might need them. At most laundromats, you'll be in and out within an hour or so.

5. Budget the rest of your expenses. Depending on your resources and what you want to do (of course), there's a lot of small ways to squeeze your budget on the road as well. Want to get off the highway and do something? State parks are usually cheap and/or free and often offer various activities and scenic views, as well as camping. Side treks to lakes and other scenic destinations will provide some free entertainment as well. More touristy attractions (caverns, museums, national parks, etc.) will cost you a bit more, so choose wisely if you'd like to explore those options. But really, it's the small things that make road-tripping memorable and enjoyable, and money doesn't have to be spent to achieve that. And since you're saving so much money in other areas (above), you have that flexibility to venture off the beaten path some more.

That's really about it. Of course, this kind of traveling isn't for everybody. But if you're the type that can rough it a little, and just likes to hit the road on a summer vacation, or just wander and discover new sights & sounds, I hope this shows that it's really a lot cheaper and easier to accomplish than most people imagine. So I'm hoping maybe I provide some fodder for inspiration by posting this.

If anybody has any questions at all about this kind of travel, feel free to post here or PM me any time.

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 12:51 PM
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

Thats really cool I've been wanting to do this really bad.. I've slept in my mazda a few times and it's really not that bad! I would have to say another really cool thing i've been considering doing is just going from Gold's Gym to Gold's Gym (as I have a membership) Free showers, work out, and you could prolly park there too...

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

[quote author=ShmemSolid link=topic=154062.msg3291623#msg3291623 date=1250959878]
Thats really cool I've been wanting to do this really bad.. I've slept in my mazda a few times and it's really not that bad! I would have to say another really cool thing i've been considering doing is just going from Gold's Gym to Gold's Gym (as I have a membership) Free showers, work out, and you could prolly park there too...
[/quote]

Good point. KOA campgrounds, YMCA's, and stuff like that works as well. I'm just not associated with any groups like that and don't have the first hand experience, which is why I left it off the list.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 01:12 PM
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

You have your car running at night for AC, or did you wake up all sweaty?

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

[quote author=smokinAMD link=topic=154062.msg3291639#msg3291639 date=1250961163]
You have your car running at night for AC, or did you wake up all sweaty?
[/quote]

Depended where I was. Never ran it all night, but in the hotter areas--such as the south (high-90s and humid) it is a bit uncomfortable. I wouldn't stop until later, like after 9pm, and then while doing my stuff before sleeping (journal, laptop, food) I'd run the AC a couple times for 5-10 minute intervals to keep my car relatively cool before sleeping. But once you fall asleep, and the night naturally cools off, it's not as bad. I never woke up in the middle of the night just dying or soaked in sweat. But, I do also handle heat fairly well, so others may have a more difficult time in those conditions.

On the flipside, though, while driving in the more northern states and through Canada, temperature was a non-issue. And getting as far north as Hearst, Ontario, it was even a bit too cold once or twice . But when the temps are sitting right around 60-75 in the evening, you're good to go. Just keep a blanket next to you, because you'll often wake up in the middle of the night a little cold once the temps hit the lows.

Edit: Oh, but the biggest tip I have for hot temperature, and I learned this on the road. Don't move. When you've turned your car off and you're ready to crash, just lay as still as you can. It really makes a big difference.

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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 01:27 PM
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

Ah so we had a smart person, you didn't want to have massive carbon build up in their engine.

I've slept in my car a few times, always in the dead of winter when it's been in the single digits. I don't exactly recommend that. It gets flipping cold.

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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 01:34 PM
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

I've wanted to do this for a while too. Not 90 days though, maybe up to a month. Sounds like it was a fun trip.

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 05:20 PM
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

I slept in a walmart parking lot several days ago.
My back seat was filled with stuff so I had to sleep in the drivers seat.
Uncomfortable~


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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 05:36 PM
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

That would be sweet to do. Go from here, across canada, down into into the states and back. Take my time sort of deal. Im kind of considering finding a 1 year contract position or so, save up some money todo some traveling. I'd like to go to europe to be honest, but even something cross-country would be pretty sweet, presuming I have the money. Did you use things like plastic knives and forks (spreading the peanut butter)? Also how did you go about washing your fruits?
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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 08-22-2009, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 19,000 Miles in 90 Days - You can do it too.

[quote author=agm_ultimatex link=topic=154062.msg3291916#msg3291916 date=1250977009]
That would be sweet to do. Go from here, across canada, down into into the states and back. Take my time sort of deal. Im kind of considering finding a 1 year contract position or so, save up some money todo some traveling. I'd like to go to europe to be honest, but even something cross-country would be pretty sweet, presuming I have the money. Did you use things like plastic knives and forks (spreading the peanut butter)? Also how did you go about washing your fruits?
[/quote]

I had just a regular knife, fork, and spoon leftover from where I was living. Took one of each and would just lick/wipe them off after each use, and clean them under hot water at the truck stops. And never did wash my fruits, still don't. For some reason that doesn't concern me much, I've never gotten sick from eating unwashed fruits.

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