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Long-Term Travel: 31 Days, 5 Ways to Make It Work

Tips for Touring on two-wheels

Michael Bourke

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If you’ve ever dreamed of spending a month exploring the sites and sounds of the USA, there are a few things you should know. First, it may not be easy to take the time off work, and no matter how well you budget, it’s going to be expensive. But there are ways to make this once-in-a-lifetime experience an adventure to remember.
Here are five tips:

1. Tread lightly when asking for time off.  

For many, this is the most daunting aspect of long-term travel. Even if you have four weeks worth of vacation time, taking it all at once can leave a burden on your employer and coworkers. Talk to your employer ahead of time to let them know this is something you would like to do. This gives you an opportunity to get your timing right and avoid planning a long getaway when you are needed most.


2. Limit wear and tear on your vehicle. 

No matter how careful you are, a road trip is going to wreak havoc on your vehicle. If you drive an average of 200 miles per day, for example, you’ll easily hit 6,000 miles, or just less than half of what vehicle manufacturers expect you to drive in an entire year. According to AAA, it cost nearly $10,000 per year to maintain and operate a medium-sized SUV, meaning you may be on the hook for six months’ worth of maintenance upon your return. And renting a vehicle for the duration of your trip is far from cost-effective. 


Consider buying a good-condition used vehicle, especially if you’re going to need four-wheel-drive during the trip. Not only will you save money on repairs and maintenance to your family car, but you can also recoup some of your investment by selling it when you get back. What’s more, if you have a big family or what to bring along a little extra comfort, you can use sites like to rent caravans, campervans, or trailers. 


If you’re going on a solo adventure, don’t rule out the idea of hitting the road on a motorcyle. While this really isn’t ideal if you have a family tagging along, a motorcyle can provide you with a sense of freedom and adventure that other vehicles might not provide. If you need some inspiration, Men’s Journal has a list of 25 great destinations you can enjoy on a motorcycle.



3. Eat well on the road.

Whether you are at home or exploring the open road, eating well costs money. USA Today reports that it can cost up to $289 to feed a family of four for a week. And that’s for groceries you cook at home. When you’re traveling, you may not have the benefit of kitchen facilities to prepare each meal. Do yourself a favor and keep plenty of healthy snacks on hand so that you can avoid the temptation of the nearest drive-through. Popcorn, beef jerky, string cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are all great healthy snacks, according to the KOA blog. 


4. Choose your accommodations in advance. 

While there is something to be said for leaving things left to the unknown, where you’re going to sleep isn’t something you should leave to chance. Sit down with your family and decide the types of accommodation you want to consider. This could be a campground, private vacation rental, resort, or typical hotel. If you’re only going to be staying a night or two after a particularly long leg of your journey, stick with a business class hotel, which will be affordable and ready for settling in once you arrive.



5. Take advantage of low-cost attractions.

When your budget is a concern, you’ll have to skip the expensive city-center tourist traps. That’s probably for the best, since the best places are often off the beaten path, and many times won’t cost a dime. We’ll offer up this list of free museums from National Geographic as evidence. Local, state, and national parks and landmarks are also wonderful places to visit with low- to no-cost admission. If you’re not sure which cities you might like to see, consider Biloxi, Mississippi; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; or San Antonio, Texas, each of which is considered one of the best cheap travel destinations in the US.


Whether you’re packing for your trip or just planting the seeds of an adventure, travel is something to get excited about. But be smart. Plan ahead, know where you’ll lay your head, and make it affordable by recouping your costs and visiting cashless attractions.

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