Frugal Travel

Travelling across the country is always an expense, but how you travel can save lots of money.  By planning wisely and saving where you can, this affords us the opportunity to travel more often. People who spend grandly and impulsively may need to travel less because they can't afford to travel as often.
We're planning to go to the NASCAR race this weekend in Bristol, TN, about 700 miles away. Here's how we're being frugal about our travel-
  • Hotel - Make hotel reservations a year ahead of time using the government rate ($70/night), even if we aren't sure at the time that we'll be going. A reservation is free and easy to cancel if we decided not to go. While we're there, we'll book a room for next year too at a low govt rate.
  • Drive or Fly - Investigate options for both modes of travel, surprisingly sometimes its cheaper to fly. We would have needed a car there to drive back and forth to the track and around town, so for us the cheapest method is to drive. Our 2004 Camry is reliable and has low miles so we don't need to do any maintenance prior to travelling.
  • Stockpile drinks - Since we're driving, we can bring almost anything we think we'll consume while we're out of town. That means bringing plenty of water, powerade, sobe water, and of course beer. All these beverages were free or very cheap at Publix using coupons while we shop. The wonderful thing about NASCAR events is that you can bring a cooler of food and drinks into the track, so you are not forced to spend any money inside the event.
  • Eating - we plan to bring and make snacks while we're on the road, also picking up a couple free Papa Johns pizzas from the Rays Strikeout contest. We have lots of Fusion Nut snacks and peanuts for the races. While we're in town, we may eat at some restaurants like Chili's, Outback and Olive Garden using our free gift cards that we earned on our credit card.
  • Gas - believe it or not, we still have BP gas cards left from the Publix deals back in March. We'll use about $100 in GC that is already a sunk cost, so gas won't seem like that big of an expense.
  • Tickets - we hope to score out tickets at the races, by paying someone on the road side cash. The event is not sold out and due to the tough economy, we expect to be able to get tickets easily for less than or equal to face value. The tickets are $57 for Friday night, and $142 for Saturday night. This is really our only big expense.
  • Souvenirs - we probably won't get any Tshirts, Hats or trinkets unless they are free. NASCAR fan fest events are notorious for product giveaways so we always end up with a bunch of junk. We also always go to the Sprint booth and play PLINKO to win passes to special events, like pre race concerts, driver introductions, driver meeting or victory lane celebrations. We've been lucky to always win special events from Sprint.
  • House sitting - our neighbor is nice enough to watch our house, come over and feed our dog, collect our mail and newspapers while we're gone so we give her a couple Publix gift cards in appreciation. These cards are free for us since we got them with our coupon overages while shopping.
So here are our expenses; $210 hotel, $100 gas (but use the BP GC), $400 tickets, and miscellaneous $100, for a grand total of $810 for the 4 day weekend.
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