Tag Archives: road trip

Life Update!

From our road trip: Hot Springs, AK

Oh man, I did not mean to take a three week break, but you know what, life is happening, y’all. And our life is pretty crazy right now. Before I quit my full-time gig, George and I started a small business. He’s been a sole proprietor for years, but we wanted to make it official as we bring me on to manage the business side of things. I’ve been heading up the more organizational part of the business, so George can start to focus on his art again. And starting a legit small business is no cake walk. It’s a lot of paperwork and lawyers and to be honest, Googling things I don’t understand.

Had to stop by the Magnolia Market in Waco, Tx.

In addition to creating illustrations for some amazing companies, small businesses and people, for the past four years, George has also been selling vintage goodies. I encouraged him to start selling his stuff online when we first moved into the Airstream and it’s only grown from there. If you’re interested in seeing the stuff we sell, you can check it out on Instagram @gorgeousgeorgeyardsale.

The Alamo!

The Alamo!

Now, at first it was hard for me to grapple with the aspect of selling “stuff.” I’m such a minimalist. I know I’ve said this before, but my dream space is a white room with lots of natural light and that’s pretty much it. But that’s not for everyone and I understand that. I don’t live with a minimalist, and my life can’t be minimal all the time. It’s truly a balance. I also like that we’re selling mostly vintage stuff. Vintage stuff is already out in the world. We’re keeping it from going into a landfill and getting more use out of the already created object.

Breakfast at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN

Anyway, that’s the long way of saying we’ve been traveling a lot for business and fun. We went on a two week long excursion to the Giddy Up motorcycle show in Texas and Roundtop, a giant antique festival. After that, we took trips to Nashville and Beaufort, SC for weddings. And you better believe we did business on the way. It’s been a whirlwind.

A secret beach near Beaufort, SC

I am so thankful to now have a job that allows us to travel together without having to worry about limited vacation days or being back at a certain time. It’s such a blessing. We can do our work on the road. I truly love travel, but I also can’t wait until we finish our house. I’m equally excited to be able to establish a routine in our new home and get a little bit of time to relax. We don’t have weekends or days off anymore and that needs to change.

Richfield Plantation in SC

I hope to have some house updates for you all soon. That is, if we can stay home for more than 5 minutes! If you want to follow our adventures in real time, I’m very active on Instagram. You can follow me @asmalllife.

What adventures are you getting into this summer? I want to hear about it in the comments!

-Melanie

Road Trip Day 7, 8 & 9 : Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Camping

Hogwarts! And those clouds! No filter on this one!

Hogwarts! And those clouds! No filter on this one!

So this is the last round of road trip pictures, I promise. I don’t want this to turn into my road trip blog, although it probably could. I want to live in these pictures forever. Anyway, I was most excited for was our trip to Universal Studios. I had been to Universal before, but not since they opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Butterbeer!

Butterbeer!

I am a huge HP fan. Like so big. I may or may not have pushed some kids out of the way just to get into the park faster.  Hogwarts Express

The Wizarding World of HP is only part of the park, but really it’s the only part I cared about or took pictures of. The park designers are quite simply amazing and the park looks so similar to the movies. There are a ton of details and if it wasn’t 90 degrees and there weren’t an uncomfortable amount of people there, I’m sure I could have wandered around the World of HP all day.

Hogwarts!

The ride that is inside Hogwarts was definitely the highlight of the trip. It was a simulated ride, but you get to fly on a broom! Just waiting in line for the ride was pretty stunning. The line takes you through Hogwarts– there were talking pictures, Dumbledore’s office, the Herbology greenhouse and so much more.

The Sorting Hat!

The Sorting Hat!

I think I squealed when I saw the sorting hat.

Fawkes!

Fawkes!

Driving

But alas, I couldn’t stay in HP land forever. George had somehow convinced me to camp out with him at a chopper motorcycle fest. Not really my thing, but hey, he did take me to Harry Potter.

George blowing up the air mattress because he loves me :)

George blowing up the air mattress because he loves me ūüôā

NC Mountains!

And the mountains of North Carolina are super pretty. I almost didn’t mind sleeping outside… almost.

I’m still waiting for my owl to tell me I was accepted at Hogwarts, but I’m happy to be home.

love,
melanie

Road Trip Day 1: Savannah

colonial park cemetery colonial park cemetery savannah gravestones

The first stop on our epic road trip was Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is a gorgeous city rich in history and art. In Savannah we mostly walked around in the crazy heat like crazy people and gawked at the city’s beauty. I had worn jeans that day and ended up buying a dress so I didn’t pass out from heat stroke. ¬†Poor planning!

We visited Colonial Cemetery (pictured above) where many of the yellow fever victims are buried along with victims of a duel!¬†The cemetery isn’t the most famous in the city, (that’s Bonaventure Cemetery from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) but it was easy to get to on foot.

cathedral of st. john the baptist st john savannah st john the baptist cathedral st john cathedral savannah

Near the cemetery is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It’s one of the oldest cathedrals in the south and open to the public. It’s insanely gorgeous and my pictures don’t do it justice at all. I lit a candle for my grandma. I think she would’ve liked that.

The best macarons from Maison de Macarons. The cappuccino was insane.

The best macarons from Maison de Macarons. The cappuccino was heavenly.

A haunted theatre in Savannah.

A haunted theatre in Savannah.

We also did some antique hunting, ate macarons and took a ghost tour in a hearse! We only had one day in Savannah, but we sure made the best of it. I’d love to visit Savannah again but maybe next time in the fall!

Have you ever been to Savannah? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

Sweet ‘n’ Salty Trail Mix Recipe

Sweet and salty trail mix In preparation of our Florida road trip (we leave Friday!) I’ve been gathering snacks like a mama bear preparing for winter. One of the ways I hope to save money on this trip is by eating our own food for two out of three meals per day. George and I also like a night-time snack, so I’m preparing all kinds of treats to take with us on the road.

Healthy Trail Mix This weekend I made a giant bag of trail mix. I’m never satisfied with the trail mixes you can find in the store. Those mixes are often full of added sugar. Why do people feel the need to make fruit sweeter? It’s sweet enough on it’s own, people.

Ingredients
1 cup of pecans
1 cup of cashews
1 cup of dehydrated fruit
3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

For this trail mix, I toasted up 1 cup of cashews and 1 cup of pecans in butter on a low stove top for about 10 minutes. I used unsalted nuts, so I also salted them. I had been drying out strawberries and bananas in our dehydrator, so I threw about a cup of those in the mix. For George, I also threw in 3/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, after the nuts had cooled, of course. The man complains like a baby if there is no chocolate in trail mix.

The best thing about trail mix is that you can throw in the things that you like or have on hand and boom, you’ve got trail mix! I’ll do a total snack breakdown later this week. I am so pumped for this trip, ya’ll.

What’s your favorite way to do trail mix? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

How to Create a Budget for a Road Trip

This isn't my actual budget, but it's a good start!

This isn’t my actual budget, but it’s a good start!

Yesterday I went over 20 ways to save on a road trip. And today I’m going to take you through the details of creating a road trip budget. Creating a budget for a road trip is a little nerdy (what?! nerdy? who? not me!) and maybe a little too Type A for some folks. But I’d highly recommend it. We don’t want to come back after a relaxing trip to a mound of debt. Am I right?!

To help you figure out costs, I recommend the following:

A Travel Budget Calculator
Travel budget calculators are quick and convenient. I like to use online travel calculators like this one and this one for the initial and estimated cost of my trip. Then, I get real nerdy and create a more official budget in Google Drive. With a spreadsheet in Google Drive, I can see the hard numbers, including money I spent before the trip. If I have wifi, I can also update the costs along the way! If you’ve never created a spreadsheet in Google drive here’s a video on how to do that.

A Fuel Cost Calculator
Paying to fuel up your car is no fun– especially if you drive a gas guzzler. With the app and website Gas Buddy, pump prices are no longer a surprise. Just put your route and vehicle information into the calculator and Gas Buddy will pinpoint the cheapest gas on the route, so you know exactly where to fill up and the exact cost!

Don’t forget to factor in costs for:

Tolls
Tolls can be one of those unexpected and bummer costs on a road trip. To avoid an unexpected toll, or even worse getting caught without the cash to pay the toll, put your trip into Google Maps before you leave. Google Maps will warn you if there is toll on your route. You might be able to go around the toll, but sometimes tolls are unavoidable. Most states with tolls will have some sort of prepaid quick pass. Florida has a “Sun Pass” that makes travelling through tolls cheaper and quicker. Just a little bit of Internet searching should bring up the costs of the tolls in the states you are planning to visit.

Food
To me, food costs are the most difficult thing to budget for on a trip. I don’t know what I’ll want to eat tomorrow, so how do I know what I want to eat three months from now?! Unfortunately food costs are more of an estimation. To even attempt a budgetary number, I look at the price range of the restaurants in the area on Yelp. I know that some days a mom & pop diner will do just fine, but other days I’ll want something a little more fancy. It’ll usually even out, but I always give myself a little more wiggle room in this department.

Experiences
Don’t ever¬†forget to budget for experiences. Experiences, like parasailing in the keys or seeing Cirque du Soleil¬†in Vegas can really make your trip. Just do your research before you go! You might be able to find online coupons or discounts for ordering in advance.

Lodging
Lodging will probably be the most expensive part of your trip. Remember, you can ask to stay with relatives or friends, couch surf or even camp. For this trip, we’re planning a combination of budget hotels, a couple days in the lap of luxury and a couple of days camping! That way we get the best of everything! Lodging costs are fairly easy to calculate if you book all your hotels in advance. Remember to always check for discounts and shop around for a hotel. Start your search early and you could save some major buckaroos. Experts recommend booking about 6 weeks out, but for some travel locales (like the beach during the summer) I’d recommend booking much farther in advance. ¬†My favorite hotel deal site is Kayak since it searches all the travel deal sites at once!

Incidentals
It’s the law of the universe. Something is going to happen and you’re going to need a little more money than you thought you would need. It’s always better to over budget and come home with money in your pocket than come home with pockets full of sand and regret.

How do you create a budget for a road trip? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie

 

20 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Road Trip

save money on road trip

Picture c/o http://web.archive.org/web/20121219045655/http://usamania.wikispaces.com:80/ released under CC licensing.

This summer George and I are taking a road trip to Florida. We’ve been talking about taking this trip for years and I am so pumped that we finally ponied up and planned the thing. I often visited the gulf coast of Florida on family vacations as a child. And I can.not.wait. to (annoyingly) sing entire Jimmy Buffett albums in the car and experience the first time George swims in the warm, clear water of the gulf.

This isn’t our first road trip. Oh no. One summer I lived in California and we drove all the way across the country. I learned quite a bit about road trippin’ and money from that excursion. This time we won’t be traveling quite as far but my budget is still tight. Here’s some of my best tricks and tips to save money on your (and my!) next road trip.

  1. Plan, plan, plan
    Planning is one of the most important aspects of saving money–¬†especially on a¬†road trip. First, create a list of the stops on the trip. Google Maps has a great multiple destinations feature. Using your ideal stops and mileage, ¬†create a budget. I’ll have more tips about the details of creating a¬†road trip¬†budget tomorrow. Knowing where you are going and how much you think it will cost is one of the most¬†essential ways to keep your road trip on the cheap.¬†
  2. Travel with friends
    By traveling with several people, you’ll be able to split more of the expenses like fuel and hotel rooms. If you like to do your own thing, just let your group know that you like your space too. There’s no shame in needing a little me time.
  3. Expect the unexpected
    So many unexpected things will happen during a road trip– good and bad. You might have car trouble, prepare for that. You might also see something ¬†so kitschy that you just have to stop. The world’s biggest ball of twine, anyone?!
  4. Pack your own food
    Eating on the road will eat through your budget like pac-man eating dots. By packing your own snacks and some meals, you manage to fight the lure of the gas station pretzel and Slurpee. Some of my favorite road trip snacks are: peanut butter and apples, dehydrated fruits and instant coffee! I’ll, of course, have another post about road trip food closer to my trip.
  5. Eat out for lunch instead of dinner
    There comes a time on the¬†road trip when¬†jerky just¬†isn’t going to cut it. Plus, the local cuisine is part of the experience. To cut down on the cost of eating out, try eating at restaurants for lunch instead of dinner. The prices will be lower at lunch time, but you still will be able to savor that local cuisine.
  6. Grocery stores
    Gas station food isn’t very healthy and it’s expensive to boot. Sometimes eating out isn’t much better. Find the local grocery store for healthy and inexpensive fare. George and I will go to the grocery store as one of the first stops when we get to our destination. We stock up on things we couldn’t pack on our road trip like yogurt or milk and store it in our hotel fridge– if we’re lucky enough to have one. This is great for those late night snacks or hotels where breakfast isn’t free.
  7. Stay with people you know
    Relatives and friends have an obligation to let you stay at their house for free. Kidding. But it never hurts to ask if you can stay with relatives or friends who live in cool locals. Offer to cook dinner for them or do other household chores while you are there. Be a good guest and offer the same in return. 
  8. Stay with people you don’t know
    If you don’t know anyone in your desired travel location, you could always try couch surfing. I’ve never tried it, but if I was going to couch surf, I’d be take precautions. I’d only couch surf ¬†with a friend and through a verified organization like Couchsurfing.org.
  9. Collect experiences, not things
    Stay away from souvenirs. You don’t need them. Rely instead on pictures to remember your trip. If you must bring back something for your loved ones, look for something free and memorable. I brought my mom a rock from our trip to the Grand Canyon. Shells from the beach are another total classic.
  10. Take advantage of your smart phone
    What would I have done¬†traveling without a smart phone? Probably eaten at a bunch of crappy restaurants and seen a lot less sights, that’s what. Yelp is one of my favorite tools for scoping out delicious (and cheap!) restaurants in a new city. I also just downloaded the Gas Buddy app for this trip. Gas Buddy helps you find the cheapest gas in your location.
  11. Make some money on the way
    If you are going to travel a long distance, you might as well make some money while you do it! There are a couple of different ways to make money on your road trip. Barnacle uses drivers to deliver packages all over the U.S. If you have a truck, you could also become a carrier for things like furniture and motor vehicles. Check out U Ship for more details.
  12. Camp along the way
    America is a beautiful country with lots of free or low cost camp sites. Even if you aren’t a happy camper (I’m not!) just knowing that I have a hotel booked for the next few nights would soften the blow of spending a night at a campground. It might soften the blow to my wallet too! Recreation.gov is a great place to start your camp ground search.
  13. Kayak.com
    Kayak is my favorite site for travel discounts because it searches all the major travel sites at once. No more going to Priceline to compare it with Orbitz. Kayak does all the work for you!
  14. Ask hotels for discount
    It never hurts to ask for a discount. I highly recommend AAA for roadside assistance. They’ve helped me when I’ve locked my keys in my car– more than once! With AAA, you’ll often get discounts on hotels too!
  15. Don’t forget stuff for the actual trip
    I never leave for a trip without sunscreen, cash and paper towels. Sunscreen is always more expensive at the beach or touristy locations. My bank’s ATM or a Cash Points may be no where in sight. (I hate ATM fees!) And paper towels are a must for quick clean up in the car. In general, all of these items are going to be cheaper for me to buy at home than to buy on the road.
  16. Pack light(er)
    I know, I know, I just said that you need to bring all kinds of stuff. And you need to bring stuff to a point. But packing light(er) will help you to save on gas. I’d consider things like shoes. Do I need 5 pairs of shoes for this trip? Probably not.
  17. Keep your car in tip top shape
    Before you leave on a road trip, get your car checked out by an expert. There is nothing worse than having to buy a big unexpected thing, like tires, on the road.
  18. Keep your tires properly inflated
    By keeping your tires properly inflated, you’ll save on gas. Properly-inflated tires also are more environmentally friendly and believe it or not, help prevent accidents! ¬†Periodically check them at gas stops and you could save a cost of $300-500 per year!
  19. Maintain steady speed
    Keeping a steady speed is essential for achieving optimal fuel economy. Tests from The Energy Conservation Japan show that “varing your speed up and down between 75 km/h and 85 km/h every 18¬†seconds can increase your fuel use by 20 percent.” So, put on that cruise control and ease on down the road, baby!
  20. Make travel a priority
    Travel is a big priority in my life. I save for it just as I save for retirement. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret not taking George to see the clear, blue-green water of the gulf coast. That’s why each month I sock a little bit away just for travel.

What are your best road trip money saving tips? Let me know in the comments!

love,
melanie