How To Take A Cross-Country Winter Roadtrip On The Budget You Have

One of my best friends wasn’t enthused about driving her car from New Jersey to California over the holidays. And she’s the roadtripping type. I decided to raise my hand to the steering wheel even if I’d do it alone. For some reason I was scared. Would I get trapped in a snowstorm, involved in an accident, kidnapped at a gas station? Oh come on, it’s America. Here’s how I owned the journey.

Treat it like a job.

I logged ten hours a day and took short breaks. Get started at sunrise since it gets dark early. Appreciate the colors in those priceless moments.

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Don’t get sucked into chain establishments.

Unless you’ve always wanted to go to Cracker Barrel. Your extra funds should add up towards national park admission fees.

Snow days.

Learn to put on snow tires or like me, have full confidence you can call AAA or wave down a man to help a distressed gal. Take it slower if there’s white stuff on the ground.

Sing your freakin’ heart out.

The best part of radio on the road this time of year is all the Christmas jingles. If you’re going through the midwest and south, forget Taylor Swift and Drake – there’s country Christmas songs to be heard over the airwaves. And then discover some Latin Christmas music, too.


Open the window if you’re further south. If you’re driving through a national forest or going through valleys you may lose signal, so fill the static by downloading an audiobook.


Zone out.

You reach slumps in the day, as you would anywhere. Allow yourself the time to decompress your mind, and be glad you’re not a truck driver.

Bring layers.

You’ll get to experience a change in the temperature so dress for the part of the country you’re in. Keep taking vitamins and Emergen-C to adjust to dry air or rain and wear sunblock on the left side of your face and body.

Snacks on snacks.

Be sure you pack a box full of granola bars and what not. Carry Gatorade and lots of mixed nuts.

Go mobile.

Gasbuddy became my best friend to find the lowest-priced places to fill up. For lodging, there are friends and AirBnb, then there’s Couchsurfing. Connect with a stranger and see their hometown like a local. Feel like getting a drink or more? Try out Tripr, aka Tinder for travelers.

Treat yourself.

Here’s where I got lucky. On my penultimate day, a gambling friend of mine made big money at the Vegas slots. He let me use his massage credit and I took an amazing bubble bath at the spa. Rewards, baby. Let your friends on Facebook know you’re traveling and they’ll reach out to you.

Oh, and don’t speed when there’s holiday traffic.

All the cry-acting in front of the po-po won’t help you get out of a ticket quota. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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