I’m sure some of you will know, early last year, we spent 38 days traveling around the United States of America to make a video. At first glance this seems like it would be a massively expensive trip with tonnes of organization, funding and planning, but as you’re about to find out – travel doesn’t have to be expensive.
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, but in order to save money there is always sacrifice. If you’re traveling with the budget of a tramp, expect to live like one. I can’t afford to spend a lot of money, there is no option for me, so the challenge is to enjoy myself as much as possible whilst spending the bare minimum. It’s always fast and easy to spend money, so if you don’t want to, you’ve got to put effort in.
The idea for a USA trip came about when we were invited over to the ‘Tempest Pro Takeover’ in LA for late Feb last year. Fortunately the timing was perfect, and we had just finished an online campaign for one of the biggest clothing retail brands in the world. We could just about afford the flights, but we thought if we’re spending all that money to get over there, we may aswell make the most of it! We decided to spread the flights apart by 6 weeks, with a stop over in NYC for the way back. I took out $300 dollars (£190) and off we went.
Total remaining = £300 For the first week arriving in LA we were looked after by the Tempest guys incredibly well, and had to spend next to nothing on food and accom which helped a lot. The event only lasted that week though, so for the remaining five we were on our own!
The first major obstacle was transport. Obviously if we’re going to be traveling around the US, some sort of vehicle is going to be needed. Public transport for the route we were planning on taking would’ve been far too slow, and flying was obviously not within our budget. Aside from walking, a minivan we could all cram in was the cheapest option.
A month-long van rental for a driver under 25 was $2,200 (£1452). We got a twelve seater so we could share the experience (and cost) with 5 of our best buds. I’m sure you’re thinking, $183 each is far too much for our budget – and it was! Josh and Ryan managed to get a sponsor deal sorted out for us to take care of $1000 of van rental cost. So van rental was a friendly $100 (£65) each. I had $200 remaining, and we hadn’t left yet!
Total remaining = £235 The next huge cost to factor in was petrol. We did over 3,000 miles on this trip and that requires an awful lot of fuel. We each chipped in $50 (£30) to a communal pot three times to pay for gas. Although this sounds expensive, American petrol is 4 times as cheap as the UK and we really took advantage of this. Petrol ate away big time at my £300 budget and after van rental and petrol, I’m left with just $50, so had to take out a further $200 (£125). Achieving this cost wouldn’t have been possible without splitting fuel between the twelve of us. Total remaining = £145 The way we approached accommodation was definitely a big money saver. In between being put up by some incredible hosts and great friends, we camped out right next to the van as much as we could. A decent sleeping bag is a must, and for sure there is a technique to sleeping on the ground. Don’t get me wrong, I like sleeping in a lovely bed as much as anyone, but when it costs you $200 a pop – it’s not worth it. We were woken up to rain, frost, and burning sunshine but that’s just all part of the adventure.
During the first week of being on the road, and after having to take out more money already it really hit me how difficult this was going to be. I realised that it was definitely possible to avoid taking yet more money out, but I would have to sacrifice certain luxuries.
Food in America is cheap, you can spend less than £3 eating at fast food restaurants, but at this stage even this was too expensive. I missed out on trying a lot of cool fast-food places, and instead opted to buy supplies from supermarkets that could last me for days. Often the food of choice was peanut butter and jam sandwiches, not ideal but definitely saved money. I tried to keep track of the budget in my head, and on days where I felt like I had spent too much, I would skip meals to get back on track.
A lot of you now will be recoiling in disgust at how I can suggest not eating as a way to save money, but lets face it – you’re not going to die. The majority of us probably eat far more than we need anyway, and if you’re relentlessly avoiding spending money, that’s the easiest way to do so. Like I said earlier on, saving money is all about sacrifice. Sometimes sacrificing your usual eating habits can provide the opportunity to experience things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to – like road trip across the USA with 12 mates. For me, that’s worth it.