cheap ways to enjoy traveling

10 Cheap and Simple Ways to Enjoy Traveling

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Yesterday marked three months of traveling for Alyssa and I. We’ve been loving every moment of it. We’ve seen mountains, oceans, bears, moose, and all things beautiful. We’ve also broken a poop tank, lost our fuel pump, and flooded the RV. Sometimes the stress of full-time travel tries to get in our way and ruin the party, but we don’t let it. Here are ten ways we’ve found to be happy while traveling:

1. Stop to eat lunch at scenic overlooks.

Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake

There is a typical America mindset when it comes to traveling that we have had to rid from our brains. It’s the “We have to get to our destination as fast as possible and drive 80 miles an hour if it’s necessary.” I can slightly understand this mentality if you’re on a limited vacation and part of your drive is on an interstate through Kansas (which we spend through yesterday). As for us, we’ve had to retrain ourselves in order to realize there are just as many beautiful stops along our route as at every destination. Some of our most enjoyable moments have come from taking a moment to stop and breathe, and also to eat a little somethin’ somethin’ at a beautiful scenic location.

2. Get dressed up for a fancy dinner, for no reason at all.

IMG_6585 One of our favorite and most memorable dinners we’ve had together was in a friend’s driveway in Washington. Alyssa cooked salmon, veggies, and mashed potatoes. We drank wine and Alyssa put on a dress and heals. I wore a collared shirt and tie. There was no occasion, we just wanted to make this moment special. When you’re living in an RV it’s easy to develop the sweat pants and no-make up mentality. We fight against that complacency every once in a while in order to create a special moment. It works.

3. Go for a whole day without making any plans.

I like to know where we are staying the night. I’ve had enough experiences of “we are full” that I don’t like to leave having a place to stay to fate. However, sometimes a day without plans is exactly what we need. In Williams, AZ our fuel pump went out on us. We ended up having to stay in a hotel and spend an extra day in the little town. We met a nice couple at dinner who invited us to their martial arts studio the next morning for a workout. We went to the class and broke our first boards. It was an awesome and whimsical way to start the day. The rest of the afternoon we went to the Grand Canyon and stopped at about 50 scenic overlooks on our way up the east side. I guess because our day started unplanned, we went with the flow the rest of the evening.

Broken down
Broken down

Our drive took us all the way up to the north side of the canyon where we climbed up to 8,000 foot elevation. Our RV was getting tired and so were we, just in time for a campground to appear at the top of the mountain, tucked away from all of civilization. There were no hook ups, and it would be our first time to dry camp. The crisp forest air and cool temps made the site one of our favorite spots along the trip. We couldn’t have planned a better day.

4. If we get the same recommendation more than once about an upcoming destination, attraction, park, etc., we go.

We’re constantly meeting people who ask us what direction we are headed next. We’ll say north or east and they will inevitably have a “favorite” destination where “we just have to stop.” We like listening, but also get a ton of recommendations. So we came up with a system, if we get the same recommendation more than once, we will go to whatever destination we’ve been told. Plain and simple. So far we’ve seen places like Hearst Castle, Going to the Sun Road, and Crazy Horse Monument, all because people have offered up their suggestions to us (and we listened).

Crazy Horse Monument
Crazy Horse Monument
On Top of Going to the Sun Road
Driving up Going to the Sun Road
Hearst Castle
Hearst Castle

5. Spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing.

We’re filming a documentary, contributing articles to several companies, amongst traveling all fifty states in seven months. The best cure for stress is for us to sometimes do absolutely nothing for an entire day. We like to find an RV park with decent Wifi (so we can stream Netflix of course) and if it’s raining, well, that’s a bonus. We sit around lazily and don’t feel bad for a moment of it, even God rested on the seventh day.

Being kids
Being kids

6. Go out of our way to meet distant relatives and friends.

We have traveled off route several times in order to spend some time getting to know long-lost friends and relatives. We’re always hesitant at first, because we don’t really know them. But every time after visiting we leave feeling refreshed. How many opportunities would we have to meet them? And in what cooler of a circumstance than to meet them while touring the US for an extended honeymoon/documentary trip? Sometimes, if your hosts are really nice they will even offer up a nice shower and meal. These are just a bonus, it’s the relationships that are what means the most. Unless there is baked potatoes and steak involved, which in that case I don’t even need to explain myself.

Most recent stop in Illinois at the Gardiner's house
Most recent stop in Illinois at the Gardiner’s house

7. Don’t let little moments create big fights.

We’re newlyweds and sometimes our GPS doesn’t work or I spill coffee. Alyssa and I live within 29 feet of each other at all times and if we fought constantly it would make life miserable. I’ve learned to let go of having to win fights or being right all of the time. It’s more meaningful (and peaceful) to be on the same team with my wife. Also, I find for Alyssa’s few “annoying traits”, I have ten for myself. It makes for a much more productive and happier RV when I spend my time working on my own character.

 8. Enjoy “normal people luxuries” like going to the gym or seeing a movie.

We are big on saving money, so we miss out on things like eating out or gourmet coffee. It’s not that we miss it, but sometimes a little splurge helps you stay sane. One of our favorite luxuries is being able to go to the gym whenever we’re traveling. Our Planet Fitness membership allows us unlimited massages, awesome showers, and free tootsie rolls. Every time we make time for a quick workout, we leave feeling refreshed. It’s a small and inexpensive way to relieve stress.

9. Let your spouse/significant other watch a funny show while you’re driving.

Driving can be draining, so we keep the mood light by watching old episodes of Friends while on the road. I don’t get to watch, but it helps to pass the time when I can listen to Joey and Chandler crack jokes.

10. Have a mission outside of traveling for the sake of travel.

This may not be for everyone, but for Alyssa and I it has made all the difference. We knew we wanted to travel, but if we hadn’t created a project to do along the road we would be going stir-crazy. The documentary we’re filming as given us a purpose bigger than ourselves. Filming a big project isn’t reasonable for most people, but just taking the time to volunteer or lend a hand along your journey can help fulfill a bigger mission.

Hourly America
Hourly America

Traveling full-time with Alyssa has proven to be more of a life changing and learning experience than the last ten years of my life. I find myself constantly being stretched, and learning to live outside of my comfort zone. However, life still hasn’t it’s little quirks and if you let it, you might find yourself feeling down and out or stressed.

I would challenge you to implement at least one or two of the above while on your next trip (my favorite is probably stopping for meals at scenic over looks).

What did I miss? Would love to hear how you find joy in the little moments of traveling?