ADAM KELLY, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Freshmen starting their first year of college have a lot on their minds when they arrive on campus. The stress of making friends, adjusting to a new schedule and taking out loans are only a few of their worries. The last thing on their mind is a vacation across the country. Spending more money? It sounds ridiculous, but immediate planning can result in an unforgettable trip in the future.
When deciding to go on a road trip after surviving four years of school, the first step is to determine where you want to go. Many students travel abroad after graduation, but few go on a road trip across the U.S. What they don’t realize though, is that unfamiliar territory is closer than they think. Don’t worry about flying out of the country because the U.S. has a lot to offer.
There are several benefactors to choosing an American road trip over a foreign one. These include flexibility in packing, possible cheaper travel costs and avoiding airports altogether.
According to MMGY’s Portrait of American Travelers, their most recent study shows road trips in the U.S. have jumped from 22 percent in 2015 to 39 percent in 2017. This increase shows the growing popularity of travel within the country but includes a wider demographic of people in the study than simply college graduates.
There are several routes prospective travelers can take across the country. RoadTripUSA offers several routes to choose from and includes maps for each state you will pass through. A popular pick by many is the Southern Pacific trail. Its itinerary includes sights from the tip of South Carolina all the way to California. For North Greenville University students, this trip can begin from home and finish on the west coast.
If you live near campus, get on Interstate 385 and head toward Charleston for your first destination. The port city has a lot to offer, including the Early Bird Diner: a popular breakfast spot in the city. After touring Charleston, head west and get on Interstate 95 to Georgia. Instead of Atlanta, check out Savannah and Macon for a more historical and quaint view of the south.
Continue driving until you reach Alabama. While you’re there, visit the George Washington Carver Museum in Tuskegee. You can continue on U.S. Highway 80 from there, through Mississippi and Texas, all the way to California if you wish.
Junior music education major, Allie Kiser, said, “For people who have never been out west, make sure to try In-N-Out Burger. It is a staple fast-food joint out west and it was so good!”
These are just a few recommendations for your trip toward the west coast. Make sure to research and ask through social media of other places people recommend.
Once you have your itinerary planned out, the next step is to create a budgeting plan for the next four years. This can be the most difficult step to complete because of every other expense that comes with being a college student.
A simple way to start saving for the trip is to start a money chart at the beginning of the school year or around New Year’s. These charts can be found online and consist of adding an amount in savings on the first day and adding the same amount to the previous day’s.
For example, with the ‘nickel a day’ chart, put 5 cents in savings on the first day, then the next day’s savings would be 10 cents. Simple enough? By the end of the year, you will have saved over $3300.
Of course, you have to have a source of income to be able to do this, but that’s where restraint and willpower come in. If you do work study with NGU or have a job off campus, take out a portion of each paycheck and put it towards savings.
The important part is to stay consistent and keep the money in a manageable place so it’s easy to track. Another tip to remember is to not set a particular budget for the entire trip. Yes, it’s wise to look ahead at the cost of food and tourist attractions, but there will always be an unforeseen purchase whether that includes replacing an item or paying more than what you expected.
After a budget has been estimated and you’ve set a savings goal, it’s time to do some more research on the places you’re visiting. It’s exciting to have an idea in mind of where you’re going, so make sure to read every blog and watch every video on the particular attraction or restaurant.
Online information can only take you so far though, and it’s important to keep an open mind because appearances can be deceiving when you compare the internet photos to being there in person. This is the time to ask locals of the city their opinion on where you’re visiting. Is it worth
the money? Should I eat somewhere else? Asking a few questions can result in saving a sum of cash.
Once the itinerary, budget and information have been figured out, the last step is to find some friends to bring along with you on the trip. They say college friends last a lifetime and that can be reinforced by finding a few willing to endure a few weeks with you.
Adding two or three more people to your trip drastically decreases the level of difficulty in completing these steps. Friends who have traveled before will have a better idea on where to stay as well as have more information on particular locations. More friends also means splitting the cost of travel and meals.
No matter where you decide to travel, you’ll have an answer to all of your friends and family asking you, “What are your plans after you graduate?”