On road trips and vacations, hotels can be a bigger expense than gas money. Youths and adults on tight budgets can be tempted to save money by sleeping in the car or camping, but there are significant downsides to each alternative. In the end, travellers who stay in motels are paying for more than clean sheets on a bed. The safety, security, and creature comforts of hotels make them a worthwhile investment in any trip. Still, consider the advantages and disadvantages of the other typical options.
Campsites in national parks are cheap, and some locations even allow free camping. A tent on the beach or deep in the woods can be a scenic destination in itself, but it isn’t always a practical alternative to staying in hotels. First, it’s a good idea to set up the tent and campsite before nightfall, meaning that you’ll have to stop driving at least half an hour before dark. This limits the progress that can be made each day, and it’s not always easy to find a dry and level campsite. Then there are the hazards of mosquitos and other bugs, nocturnal animals, and other campers. While other campers in a national park are usually safe, a person in a sleeping bag is more vulnerable to the elements than a lodger in a locked motel room. Rain at the arrival time or during the night can make packing up the tent a hassle the next day.
Sleeping in the Car
The doors of a locked car are more secure than the zipper of a tent, but a reclined bucket seat isn’t very comfortable. Finding a safe and socially acceptable place to park overnight can also be challenging since people walking past may be confused to see someone sleeping behind the steering wheel. Parking on the side of the highway may seem safe to an inexperienced driver, but a police officer may ask that car sleepers move along. The sides of highways are generally kept clear in case of vehicle breakdowns or drivers who need to swerve off the road. Because the shoulder of the road isn’t completely safe, tire jacks and other emergency roadside kits often include flares or reflectors to put alongside the road.
Instead of stopping at hotels, some drivers try to drive through to their destinations in a single stretch. Gas stations are full of energy drinks and sodas that cater to people looking to fight drowsiness. Drivers who are nodding off to sleep behind the wheel, however, put their lives and others at risk. Getting jittery on soda isn’t great for a person’s health, but drifting off the road into a ditch or tree can be fatal. Ultimately, the minor expense of hotels is very worthwhile when the alternative is driving without adequate rest.
When it’s time for a vacation or long drive, consider breaking up the trip by staying at motels or other lodgings along the way. Another few consecutive hours on the highway won’t be memorable in another five years, but the places and towns visited along the way can be miniature adventures in themselves.