How I Prepare for a Road Trip

How I Prepare for a Road Trip | Journey to SavingAs some of you know, R and I are headed to New Orleans for FinCon. So by the time you’re reading this, hopefully we’ll be halfway there! (As it is, there’s about 4 hours till our alarm goes off…why do I have to be a night owl?! Pro tip – don’t prepare for a trip by blogging about it.)

Am I the only one who worries constantly that I’ve forgotten something when packing for a trip? I write up an extensive list of everything we need to take with us, and I refer back to it once it’s time to pack, but I can never shake that feeling that I left something behind.

While packing, I figured I would write about how I prepare for a road trip. Why? Mostly because forgetting things is never fun, and that means you have to buy what you forgot to bring once you get to your destination. It might not always be the biggest hit to your wallet, but it still sucks.

Along with that, I just wanted to offer a few tips on how to prepare, as I find preparing is probably the best way to save money in almost every situation.

So here are some things to take into consideration when preparing for your next road trip!

Double check your inventory

I try to make sure everything is in order before we leave. Is there anything we’re close to running out of that we’ll need on the trip? Getting there, losing your contacts, and then realizing you only have one spare pair left is not good (this happened to me, oops). Make sure you bring back-ups of things you really need to function.

I have more than enough contacts to last me right now, but I tried on my pair of back-up glasses a few days ago, and realized that I can barely see out of them. Not good. Don’t let this happen to you.

I don’t think it needs to be said, but I find that making a list helps me feel less anxious. Yesterday, my mind was running a mile a minute trying to think of everything I needed to pack. Toothbrush, chargers, camera, notepad, book, makeup, flats…Writing it all down quieted my inner-voice for a bit!

Get your vehicle serviced

We secured an oil change for the car, as that was my biggest concern going into this trip. Besides that, my dad looked all the other fluids over when we last visited, and topped off the ones that needed it.

How I Prepare for a Road Trip

Your packing efforts might be impeded

It’s not a good idea to push your car through hundreds of miles when you have doubts about how it’s running. If you’ve been noticing any weird noises, you should get it looked at before you leave! Maybe you’ve been putting it off for one reason or another, but do you really want to end up stranded on the side of the road with no cell reception? (This is starting to sound like a scene from a scary movie…)

Additionally, give your tires a look over. When we went for the oil change, we were told my two front tires really needed to be replaced. We were told my car wouldn’t have passed inspection with the state the tires were in. So we went ahead and made the purchase, and I’m much less worried now! This was accounted for in the budget, as I had known my car was due for tires.

Lastly, be sure to test your lights out and make sure they’re all working! You don’t need to get pulled over on account of this.

Clean out the fridge

Are you going to be gone for a while? Try and clear out your fridge before you leave. Have a few dinners consisting of leftovers (or force them on your significant other for lunch, like I do!). It’s okay to mix everything up once in a while. I’d rather eat three mini-meals than see our food go to waste.

On top of this, try and plan your meals before you leave, if you don’t already do. I held off on going grocery shopping, and we pulled through with what we had in our apartment. I didn’t feel like returning to a bunch of food gone bad in our absence.

Alternatively, you can use this as an opportunity to clean out the pantry! Just remember to go shopping when you come back from your trip, or at least leave yourself something to eat. I know that after driving 10 hours, R and I are not going to feel like going to the store!

Pack some snacks

I decided to borrow a large cooler that my parents have in order to bring some food along with us. This is mostly because R is not attending the conference with me, and won’t have access to free breakfast or lunch. Assuming your hotel has a fridge, why not pack up whatever you have and eat it there? This way, your food still doesn’t go to waste, and you’ll spend less on your vacation.

I know New Orleans is famous for good food, but we’re trying to keep costs down. Plus, it allows us to bring sandwiches and drinks along with us in case we get hungry on the drive. I try to keep stopping to a minimal when going on trips. I know that’s not possible with kids, but you could do what the Frugal Rules family did, and pack goodie bags for your kids to look forward to!

Entertainment

How I Prepare for a Road Trip - Entertainment | Journey to SavingWhich brings me to my last point. You need something to do while you’re in the car for an extended period of time. I just updated all my podcasts for my iPod, so that we’ll have something to listen to. If that fails, I’ve got hours upon hours of music on there.

I’ll also be looking into audio books or ebooks in general, as I like to read on my Kindle. I’m bringing a notepad in case ideas strike me at weird times, especially post-conference. But you never know when a podcast will spark something.

If you have some little ones in tow, check out Lauren’s post on how to stay sane. She targets flights, but I think many of her tips are applicable to car rides as well, especially if you have a roomy vehicle.

Look over a map

Yeah yeah, I know, who actually uses maps these days? Most of us rely on the GPS in our phones, or use a stand-alone device. Well, I’m with Republic Wireless, and they just made a change regarding roaming data. So just in case I don’t have a strong signal, I don’t want to be lost with no clue of where we’re going.

As a back-up plan, I printed out directions, and I also studied the map to see where we can stop along the way. We might not be able to make the 10 hour drive on Saturday night (as I’ll have next to no chance to sleep), so I marked down some cities we can potentially stop in to stay overnight if need be. I went a step further and researched average prices of hotels in each city.

Bonus tips: turn off your thermostat (or adjust it slightly if you have pets) to save on energy costs while away, and make sure you’re properly rested and driving safely!

I think I’ve covered everything, but if you have anything to add, please let us know your tips in the comments! 

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award | Journey to SavingYet another award has made its way on the blog scene, and I’ve been nominated by two lovely ladies – thanks Shannon and Kali! – so of course I have to participate! Others are unaware of the origins of this award, and don’t know what it’s an award for.

I did some Googling and the only thing I can come up with is this website, which isn’t entirely helpful. Most other bloggers have surmised that this is just another excuse for us to be a little bit more personable!

I’m sure you’ve seen some other bloggers post their 7 random facts about themselves, but if not, here it goes.

To be honest, I am having a hard time coming up with things. I feel like I share so much with you already, and I’ve already done a few other Q & A type posts. Ack!

Nonetheless, I’ve given it my best try here! If you’re unsatisfied, leave a comment with a random question you’d like to ask me. I’ll entertain anything as long as it’s not super personal. =)

My 7 Random Facts

1. My closest friends and family like to poke fun at “the many faces of Erin.” I have a face for just about everything, and they’re quite amusing to most people. Unfortunately, my “default” face is a bitch face. I have no clue why, but I tend to intimidate people with that. So if you find me at FinCon, please don’t think I’m scary or pissed off. I’m likely caught up in my thoughts, or just really clueless and lost. Probably the latter.

2. I like to think I’m stronger than I really am, and initiate lots of play fights with R. It’s inevitable that I end up injuring myself in the process. My dream is to someday be able to beat him up, but that’s highly unlikely given his 6’4″ frame. Sigh. (Sarcasm, though I wouldn’t mind knowing how to defend myself from others!)

3. I love video games! I love reading as well, but I find that video games offer more opportunities to immerse yourself in a story (I only play RPGs). I know there’s a negative stigma surrounding them, and they’re not for everyone, but getting lost in a book or a game is one way I unwind. I also love to listen to certain video game music.

4. I grew up thinking I’d be an author. Everything was fine and dandy with this until I took a Creative Writing class in 11th grade. That doesn’t make sense, right? My teacher was awful and all my dreams of becoming an author went down the drain after taking that class. I literally skipped out on that class to go to my favorite English teacher’s class instead. Of course, I continued to write papers throughout college, but it wasn’t until I started blogging that I found joy in it again.

Versatile Blogger Award | Journey to Saving

Formidable clouds!

5. I am, by definition, legally blind without my glasses or contacts. I don’t really like using that phrase, because I can still see things, they’re just really fuzzy. Unlike Shannon, I’m super scared of lasik, but it would be nice to have the ability to see clearly upon waking up.

6. I am very much afraid of thunderstorms. Even just thunder. When I was 5 years old, a horrible storm passed through the area, and I remember hearing an awful sound nearby. It turned out that lightning had struck our neighbor’s chimney, and the bricks had fallen down. Ever since, I’ve been super paranoid about lightning hitting the building I’m in. I can’t sleep through storms, and I whimper like a puppy any time I see lightning, subsequently annoying anyone around me.

7. On that note, I also really dislike cloudy days. For the past week, we’ve had way more overcast days than sunny days, and it’s been killing my mood! I don’t mind having one or two rainy days where I can relax, but I could never live in constant dreariness. It’s just so blah. Does anyone else feel the same?

I’m supposed to nominate 7 others for this award, but I feel like so many of you have been nominated already! So hopefully these great bloggers haven’t been nominated yet, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s posts!

Melissa @ Sunburnt Saver

Cat @ Budget Blonde

Lisa @ Lisa vs. the Loans

Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

Brooke & Genevieve @ PF Twins

Ashley @ Saving Money in your Twenties

KK @ Student Debt Survivor

Tell me a random fact about yourself in the comments, or feel free to ask me more questions if you’d like to get to know me better!

Being Grateful: Forty-Third Edition

Hi everyone! Hope you had a great week. I truly cannot believe that FinCon is next week already. I know I was very late to the party, but even so, that means September is more than halfway gone! I give up on keeping track of time. Last week, R and I were discussing how fast things have been flying by, and we both agreed that after high school, time speeds up. It’s just a fact.

Being Grateful - Journey to Saving

Exploring!

So, what am I being grateful for this week? Let’s see. Last weekend, R and I actually decided to take a trip to the Habitat Restore place near his job. It’s a crazy combination between Goodwill and home improvement. While they have furniture, books, and electronics, they also have cabinets, tile, doors and Being Grateful - Habitat Restore | Journey to Savingmolding. I was going to make a post on our experience there, but it didn’t strike my fancy that much. If you’re a homeowner doing renovations, you could potentially score some amazing deals there.

From there, R and I drove a bit further north, wanting to explore the nearby towns we’ve heard about, but haven’t been to. It’s about time! We’ve only been in the actual city-center once as it is, so we might as well get out to other surrounding places. On our way back home, we passed over Lake Norman, and saw some ridiculously beautiful homes sitting there on the water. I’d really like to visit, as it’s the closest thing to a beach we have, but the “official” entrance is almost an hour away from us.

As R was driving, he commented that we should drive around aimlessly more often. I agreed. There are a few back roads that don’t have as much traffic on them, which means we don’t have to worry about going slowly to take in the views. We’ll probably focus more on this next month. If we do stay in Charlotte, it would help us decide where we should go next.

Helping

One of my closest friends (who I actually met online about 8 years ago now, wow!) has been interested in the world of blogging ever since I mentioned it to him. While he’s not the slightest bit interested in personal finance, he is into gaming, and I told him he has nothing to lose by creating a blog centered around that. I don’t exactly have authority in that niche, but I thought it would be doable considering he is pretty opinionated and a decent writer.

We finally got around to brainstorming this week, and it was fun! We got together a list of categories and topics he should talk about, thought of a name for the blog, and discussed the different directions he could take it in. He has a lot of ideas, he’s just stuck on the time factor. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, blogging does take up a decent amount of time, but it could pay off in the end.

Being Grateful - Business Card | Journey to SavingHis goal (and my goal for him!) is to be able to become a full-time blogger/gamer. He’s currently stuck in a rotten job that he wouldn’t mind getting away from at some point. We did a little digging and found some blogs that accept guest posts and contributor posts, so I’m hoping something comes out of it for him in the near future.

I was really grateful for the chance to be able to help. I don’t think I’m an expert on blogging by any means, but I certainly know what it’s like to start out and feel overwhelmed by the options. My friend has never worked with WordPress before, either, so I got a chance to highlight some of the unexpected back-end work that blogging involves.

On another helping note, I was grateful for the opportunity to review Shannon’s new book. It’s awesome to see someone move beyond the realm of blogging to being published. I think a lot of you would agree that Shannon has a great message on personal finance that needs to be heard by more than those she can reach with her blog, and I’m just excited she has the chance to do that with her book!

Lastly, I am grateful for the help R gave me in designing my business cards. For those that don’t know, he went to college for graphic design, but he dropped that quickly after graduating. Nevertheless, I always go to him for ideas or critiques on my own designs. I definitely didn’t have the same vision as he did, and I’m really glad I asked him for help, otherwise I wouldn’t have ended up with these awesome cards. Just the back is pictured – I got a double-sided card. (Also, thanks to everyone who recommended VistaPrint!)

Weather

Being Grateful - Fall Scented Oil | Journey to SavingIt is very slowly, but surely, cooling down here. There was one day our thermostat actually said 77* (it’s set to 78*). Upon checking the weather for the next 10 days, it’s actually supposed to go down to the mid-70′s by next weekend! Of course, I won’t be here to enjoy it, but hopefully it lasts.

I’ve been reading that fall is the favorite season of many of my fellow bloggers, which is nice. I always ran into people who would scoff at fall, as it overtook their favorite season of summer.

I can’t put it into words, but fall is just my favorite season, simple as that. While I love bundling up, wearing scarves and boots, and seeing the leaves change color, there’s also something changing in the atmosphere itself. Perhaps it’s because summer brings unbearable humidity to the point where you can’t breathe, and fall allows a reprieve with crisp, fresh air.

Either way, I always seem to find my footing in fall. I’m happier, more energetic, more motivated, and more inspired. Does anyone else feel this way with the change of seasons, or am I crazy? Oh well, I’ll take it =). To start the festivities a little early, I got this Febreze scented oil refill. It smells amazing.

What are you being grateful for this week? Is summer your favorite season? Do you like helping other bloggers figure things out? When’s the last time you explored your city?