My Spring Break 2015 was definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had since coming to college on the mainland. I got to visit a lot of friends and family and see new and exciting places I’ve dreamed of visiting for years. My friend Summer and I, one 20-year-old and one 19-year-old, road tripped over 2,000 miles along the west cost in a week, stopping in Pacifica, CA, Santa Cruz, CA, San Francisco, CA, Aloha, OR, Portland OR, Milwaukie, OR, Eugene, OR, Seattle, WA and Santa Barbara, CA. By the end of the week Summer was telling everyone that she knew wayyy more about me than she ever thought possible… Now I don’t know if that’s a good thing or that’s just because I couldn’t shut up during our 12 hour drives but I’m just going to roll with it haha. My favorite destination of my whole trip was Portland, Oregon and the few hikes I got to do around the area. My roommate Cheyenne let us crash at her place and took us to a few drop dead gorgeous places, my favorite being Multnomah Falls.
I’m a sucker for nature and the outdoors, and this place completely took my breath away.
We were able to hike and visit a few of the falls in the Mount Hood/ Columbia Gorge area which is a pretty touristy thing to do in Oregon but I wasn’t complaining at all. I’ll just stop talking because pictures speak for themselves.
We also were able to visit the Portland Japanese Rose Garden which was beautiful but a little too expensive for my budget so Cheyenne and I just walked around the trails on the mountain side that overlooked into the garden. We were perfectly content (haha is that cheating?).
I have way more photos, and probably too many than you folks could, quite frankly, care about, so I’ll save you guys the pain and save them for my relatives and loved ones who have no choice but to sit and listen to all of my nonsense gibberish. Anyway, so you’re probably waiting to hear my tricks of the trade to budgeting a successful road trip, aye? Well here’s the gist:
I spent about $160 on gas and tolls for the entire trip (which is about half our total gas cost that Summer and I split), about $100 total on food and about $100 on recreational activities. I got to see and experience a lot of different types of places and activities so I wasn’t too nitty gritty about my spending like how I usually am. But, I was still able to save a ton of money by simply weighing how important certain splurges and saves were to me. Here are five tips that will allow you to stretch your limited funds while still allowing you to have an amazing road trip vacation:
1. Pack your own snacks: Summer and I made it a point to make and pack our own snacks before we left for the week to avoid stopping at gas stations or quick eat places that would blow both our money and healthy budget. Packing your own snacks also saves you from wasting already-purchased groceries that would have gone bad if you had left them on their lonesome for a week. A very important tip to consider when packing snacks is to bring things you can eat while driving as well as snacks that won’t go bad quickly and force you to binge when you’re not even hungry. Some snacks I decided to pack were bananas, apples, oranges, nut mixes, homemade pancakes, homemade protein nut rolls/ balls, seaweed, rice cakes and nut butters.
2. Download the “Gas Buddy” app: “Gas Buddy” is an app you can download on both apple and android phones that takes your location and gives you a list of the cheapest gas station prices in your area. This application is a LIFE SAVER. It can become a trap to just pull over at the nearest gas station when you’re on a long road trip and your tank starts to run low, but you would be surprised with how much money you can save when you take a little time to do your research and find pit stops that are both convenient and beneficial to your budget.
3. Stop at grocery stores instead of fast food chains to eat: I personally do not eat fast food. Like, EVER, so it was really easy for me to forgo the gas station and fast food pit stops. But when you’re driving on a long dark road somewhere between Sacramento, Weed and Portland with no restaurants in sight and a low supply of snacks, you begin to feel a little weary. So what I would suggest doing is finding a grocery store that you could get a few quick ingredients at and make your own simple meal for way less! We stopped at a small grocery station at Mount Shasta and I got myself a nice piece of smoked salmon with some raw cashews for only $7, which is a little more than you would pay for a fast food meal but is way way better for you and way cheaper than stopping at a restaurant along the way that could be a hit or miss. If you can, I would suggest finding a Trader Joe’s because they have a ton of quick grab and go ingredients you could use to make a hearty salad or hummus wrap as well as pre-made quick salads, sushi and trail mix bags.
4. Don’t be too snooty for gas station coffee: The best cup of coffee I had on the entire road trip came from a tiny Circle K gas station outside of Portland and cost me a total of $1.29. The worst cup of coffee I had, ironically, came from a Starbucks just outside of downtown Seattle and cost me a total of $4.78. My point is that you should never be too pretentious when purchasing your coffee people! You’d be surprised with how well some of those generic coffee pot brews may turn out to be, so stay away from the coffee chains as best as you can and take the simple caffeine route!
5. Don’t go too crazy trying to save money all the time: A problem people sometimes have when going on vacation, myself included, is spending too much time fixating on money you inevitably have to spend while away from home that you probably wouldn’t have spent otherwise. It’s important to let go of your money securities sometimes and live a little because you’re less likely to miss out on opportunities you couldn’t have had anywhere else. I had the opportunity to visit two of my best friends from high school while in Portland and we decided to go out to a small, quite fancy and fairly pricy, French bistro restaurant near my friends’ schools. My friend Pua had suggested it because she knew how much I’d love the desert menu, and though the meal did blow the top of my daily allotted budget, I wouldn’t have taken it back for the world. The food was divine and the company even better, and who can put a price on a double chocolate fudge tiramisu cake let alone a night full of endless laughs with your best friends? My main point is that money is paper, and it’s always better to have a skinner wallet but be able to look back at the amazing memories you’ve made in the past than have a full wallet but regret all the great times you missed out on because you were trying to save funds.
Vacationing doesn’t have to be taxing on your diet and your budget, and with these tips you’ll see just how easy it can be! Don’t be afraid to get out there and try something new, get lost for once and I promise you’ll have just as great of an adventure as I did. P.S. I promise that I will up my posts and participation since I am finally starting to catch up on all the work I have fallen behind on since break.
To health infinity and beyond!