An overview of my trip

So here is the final data on my little “vacation.” I did not intend to make driving to Yellowstone a vacation but it turned out that way. It was my third time making the trek from New York and I was absolutely dreading it. In years past, I never gave myself much time to enjoy the sights along the way and now that I have, I can tell you that this trip was perhaps one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. And what usually, on average, takes me three nights took me six. Yup, six! I had the time–work doesn’t start until June 15th–so I figured that I’d use it to play tourist and enjoy myself. However, since I’m basically broke, I had to do it on the extreme cheap. In years past, I spent the night in hotels but there’s no way I could do that and still see all that I wanted to at an enjoyable pace so I opted to camp.

More than anything, I’m posting this to encourage you–especially those with kids–to revisit the all-American vacation, Griswold style. Hop into the family truckster, explore our country, hike, see the sights, sleep in nature, check out the largest ball of twine. It’s cheaper than most other vacations and as I’ve tried to convey in other posts, most attractions are free to enjoy. Things don’t have to be expensive. And you don’t have to have a new car or rent something spiffy. My Honda Civic officially has 205,481 miles on it and it got along just fine. And my camping gear is very basic and worn (a friend named my tent “the girl pee tent” because it smells bad) but I was comfortable and slept like a log. I even woke myself up (and probably my neighbors) snoring a few times.

  • Gas: $190.86
  • Gallons pumped: approximately 46.262
  • Miles driven: 1,715.70
  • Oil change: $43.63
  • Tolls: Ohio: $10.00, Indiana: $7.90, Illinois: $11.80
  • Lodging: Woodside Campground: $17.00, Chicago: free, Myre Big Island: $25.00, Mitchell KOA: $24.27, Badlands: free, Buffalo KOA: $31.88
  • Entrance fees: Lily Dale: off-season is free, 1880 Town: $12.00, Corn Palace: free, Badlands: free, Wall Drug: free, Big Horns: free, Buffalo Bill State Park: free, Shoshone National Forest: free, Yellowstone: $25.00 (free for me because of my research permit)
  • Food: $82.62

My total expenses for seven days and six nights of vacation was $456.96. This will be approximately doubled when it becomes a round trip, which is a little steep. However, think of it this way, if you invited another adventure-seeker along with you and split the cost of gas, tolls, the oil change and camping, you both could enjoy a 12 day, cross-country vacation for around $500 each. That’s extremely impressive. That’s around the same price as a single round-trip plane ticket to only one destination.

Three nights at the Super 8 probably would have cost me around $60/night: $180
Camping and visiting a friend for six nights: $98.15
So I cut my expenses by almost half and doubled my number of vacation days!

The offer is open to anyone who wants to fly out at the end of July and take the trip back with me. I plan to go south to Jackson Hole, then see some dinosaurs in Thermopolis, visit a petrified forest, hit the Reptile Gardens, camp in the Badlands again, definitely swing by Myre Big Island again and even get a psychic reading in Lily Dale. That’s if I finish my field season early…we shall see… The trip would be a lot more fun with someone equally up for adventure, plus expenses would be shared. Just an option if you’re looking to see the country.

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