These tips will keep dollars in you pocket and your back from breaking.
Hotels We did not pre plan our hotels since we weren’t exactly sure where or when we would stop each evening. This was so unlike our other trips that when I read on Pinterest that this kind of travel makes the trip seem to last longer I felt better. Anyway, the saving money tip is this. Always ask if there is a discount for being a AAA member, AARP member, particular hotel points card holder, or for the biggest discount, a military or former military member. Before he remembered he had a credit card size copy of his discharge papers Joe used his dog tags as proof of service. The smallest discount we got was $10 off at a small non-chain place. The most we got off was $40 a night and a free upgrade to a suite at a chain hotel because Joe is a veteran and had a points card. We stayed there two nights. If you don’t have any of the above affiliations ask what discounts they offer.
Ice for Cooler. We have a medium sized hard plastic cooler that is quite heavy when filled with water, pop, and ice. Each morning we would dump the water from melted ice and then add more ice. I bought this small cloth cooler for $5 on clearance at Jo Ann Fabrics. Instead of hauling our big cooler to the ice machine, Joe would fill this smaller one up with ice and refill the bigger cooler at the car.
Suitcases and Backpacks We took both. This was a 3 week trip where we would wake up to temps of 35 degrees in the mountains and experience 90 degree days in the desert so needless to say we could choose to overpack or do laundry. We chose doing laundry and most hotels had a laundry room for guests. Tip: try not to get the room adjoining the laundry room. It’s a little noisy until 10pm when it closes. So we each packed a 21 inch suitcase but didn’t haul that into the hotel each night because we also each brought a backpack. With planning you can fit 3 days worth of clothes in the backpack and only need your suitcase when you have to restock your backpack. When you are exhausted from climbing mountains it is awesome to grab the backpack and toiletry bag instead of that heavy suitcase, especially in no elevator hotels.
Momentos I love buying a little something from sites we visit. We have a designated wall with small paintings or tiles from each trip. We also have a refrigerator covered in magnets that some people may think tacky but lets me fondly remember past trips each time I’m in the kitchen. We have bought expensive items in the past and then wondered what we were thinking.