Image provided courtesy of the Magic Gifts Store
I decided to post the very first plan I had created for my “hippie road trip”, since I still had it laying around. As you will see, it was not very hippie, not very minimalist, not exactly cheap, and nowhere near what I have in mind nowadays, but nevertheless I provide it as a means to understand the evolution I and my ideas have undergone. Besides, it may be of some use to the individuals (young and old alike) who just want to have a great experience on some hippie-type road trip that they saw in some Hollywood movie somewhere (which I think was what I original had in mind).
Now some of you might think that planning for a “hippie trip”, as I did, sounds sort of at odds with the whole concept, but I assure you not all hippies fly-by-the-seed-of-their-pants without making some sort of plans in advance. Hippie does not necessarily mean stupid, as I learned during my years of research into my planned endeavor. Besides, I also learned through life experience that those who do tend to go through life rather freely and tossed about by the waves seem to fit perfectly with those who are more prone to planning and order. They tend to compliment one another rather nicely in situations such as the one being discussed, where the less prepared and more random tend to bring fun and excitement to the life of the, shall we say, more anal retentive; and the more orderly and prepared individual tends to serve as the perfect safety net and boy scout for the former, making both of their journeys much more enjoyable and free flowing.
You may ask what sort of life experience I had which proved this point to me? The answer is five years with my now ex-fiance (hey, I didn't say it works when you try to settle down, at least not when you are still young – LOL) who was what I would refer to as "walking chaos". She was the hippie-type who had no plans ever, no real dreams besides living in the moment, and just all-around a nice woman with a carefree spirit. I, on the other hand, was more of the planner, the thinker, the plotter, the guy who was just as carefree at heart, but much much more down-to-earth and willing to stare down the road to anticipate any potential circumstances that might throw a wrench in our happy chaos. She was perfect for keeping me from spending my life charting a course I would never set out upon (a fault she has somewhat helped correct), and I just knew how to make her smile when she was certain we were stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead car battery or no gasoline, and I seemed to magically produce my hidden preparations. Yes! I would suggest that polarized, yet compatible personalities make perfect companions for adventure, but I would not suggest the same is true when it comes to settling down to a less adventurous life, at least not at those extremes (Pisces and Sagittarius).
From the paragraph above you can probably gather that I do have some experience taking several shorter trips, which would be typical of a man of my personality. Therefore, I do hope that those who have never undertaken a major road trip, particularly if they are young, will carefully consider my suggestions here as somewhat knowledgeable.
As you look over the plan you will have to keep in mind that it was originally written some years ago, when gas prices were just starting to go through the roof, however, I had researched the projected costs by the planned timing of my trip (then planned to be sometime around 2015) and the projected fuel costs, as you will note, were extremely high (and just about on track with what I had read was predicted). Although it should be noted that in doing my figuring I projected rather high for all the things on the list figuring that it was better to be more prepared than less prepared. Also, I had planned on making one huge loop around the continental United States with a few detours in between, so the projected mileage was estimated to reach around 10,000 miles with an anticipated low fuel mileage of about 12 miles per gallon (with a fully loaded van), on average, and an estimated average fuel cost of between $4-$5.
I believe, as I am no longer sure, that the original plan was to make the road trip last anywhere from 6 months to a full year, or longer, depending on what was found along the way and how long it was wished to stay in any one location, which would explain the projected food costs of close to $2000 for at least two individuals – no one wants to be alone. Two thousand dollars would be close to somewhere around $160 per month in food costs for two people, for an entire year, not counting an additional $520 which I had planned to set aside for occasional stops at a restaurant, which would have yielded one restaurant stop per month, for two people, at a little more than $17 per plate, with nearly $100 left over for any extra travel companions picked up along the way, or any less fortunate individuals who looked like they were in dire need of a meal; in other words, 5-6 meals to donate.
Next, you will note that I did not factor in the cost of the vehicle, as it was assumed the vehicle would be procured in the meantime, and it is really rather difficult to assess the cost of a vehicle, years in advance, especially given factors such as fixing it up for the trip and adding any amenities that may be able to reduce the projected costs of the trip. Equipment such as a camp stove, sleeping bags, and other such things are also not included as I already possessed those items, since I am an avid camper and backpacker and I could never imagine not having those items available to me.
Now, it is not possible to prepare for all things, unless you wish to go insane, so naturally I planned to wing it if my equipment became damaged or any theft occurred, although I did plan to take every precaution to ensure neither of those things would happen. Such situations simply cannot be anticipated, and as noted, it is not practical to prepare for ever single possibility, which is one reason why all costs had been estimated towards the high end and the trip itself was open to such a wide margin of duration, since that would allow for extra money should something very bad occur. In short, the most practical and likely reasons to require money had all been covered and their costs estimated toward the high end.
As I had stated previously, this plan was created when I first decided that I wanted to undertake such a trip, so it really is not very adherent to many principles which I would now consider “hippie”, such as a minimalist approach and a more environmentally-friendly way of travel, and it is most assuredly not concerned with keeping the costs down, as you will notice, so as not to support the system which I despise with too much vigor.
The total expenses of the trip were projected to be a whopping $17,125, which I had planned to acquire by moving in with someone, dramatically cutting my annual expenses, and dumping nearly every penny I earned the year prior to the trip into savings (which could have been done on full-time minimum wage), or by convincing my travel companion (or companions) to split the cost. I certainly would not spend an entire year raising that sort of money for such a trip now, as I am older and wiser and could turn that money into twice that in just another year, and even purchase a house or some land in some locations, but my point here is to show you how I was going to do it, not what I intend to do now after having much more time to think about it, grow, and learn. I will share those plans with you later. Again, my purpose here is to show you the evolution of my plan and my life, although I will say that if one has that sort of money they should consider doing something more productive with it such as purchasing a home or perhaps splitting it in half, cutting back their trip a bit, and feeding a few starving people in this world!
You could also just produce the vehicle, take out a few ads, and have some college kids pay for your trips around the country and the food for your belly (just a thought). There are lots of younger men and women who would love to provide gas and meals in exchange for not having to worry about driving, and who are eager to have a cool cat show them where to find the safe and hip hangouts.
But, without further delay, here is the trip plan. Look it over and see if there is anything you didn't think about, or anything I didn't think about. You will notice it is merely a financial budgeting plan and not a trip itinerary, as although I would be more than willing to offer you advice, a brother still has to make a living, so if you want the real meat you're just gonna have to offer to gas me up! Besides, the trip is whatever you make it, the planning shouldn't so much be about where you are going to go and what you are going to do along the way or even when you get there, but more about how you plan to get from point A to point B and back again safely, securely, and while having as much fun as possible.
Insurance with Towing ($600)
Automotive Club ($100)
Basic Maintenance ($100)
Automotive Repairs ($300)
Motor Oil ($100)
Windshield Washer Fluid ($20)
Brake Fluid ($20)
Power Steering Fluid ($10)
Transmission Fluid ($10)
Tire Replacements (4) ($250)
Battery Replacement ($75)
Washing & Cleaning ($50)
Air Fresheners ($20)
TOTAL VEHICLE COSTS ($1810)
* Note (particularly for the non-mechanically inclined): vehicle fluid costs are high because long trips blow through motor oil and other fluids which you will want to check daily when traveling
Fuel ($4000) (for 10,000 miles at 12 mpg, loaded van)
Toll Charges ($200) (try to avoid)
Parking Fees ($150) (also try to avoid)
Traffic Fines ($300) (inevitable)
Campground & Camping Fees ($300) (plan for mostly free spots)
Maps ($75) (might be available through Auto Club)
TOTAL TRAVEL COSTS $5025
Food & Water Costs-
Food ($2000) ($166 per month, 2 people, for one year)
Restaurant ($520) (1 meal a month, 2 people)
Water ($520) (grossly underestimated, anticipating lots of free fill ups)
Other Beverages ($370) (special non-alcoholic drinks)
Spices ($20) (for cooking)
Cooking Fuel ($100) (depends on stove)
Dish Cleaning ($20)
Fire Igniters ($20) (lighters, matches, fire starters, etc. for campfires)
TOTAL FOOD/WATER COSTS $3570
Toilet Tissue ($75) ($6.25/month, should yield close to 24 cheap rolls)
Toilet Chemicals ($75) (for pre-bought camp hassock toilet, for on-the-go)
Showers ($300) (at truck stops, and obviously not everyday)
Shower Products ($50)
Hygiene Products ($50) (not figuring female specific products which can cost a decent amount more)
Cologne/Perfume ($50) (to smell nice for the police)
TOTAL TOILETRY COSTS $0600
Laundry Fees ($300) (about $5 a week for the laundromat)
Laundry Products ($50)
Clothing Repair & Replacement ($100) (because hippies tend to lose their clothes)
Souvenir Clothing ($100) (from that “special” concert)
TOTAL CLOTHING COSTS $0550
Medical Fees ($100) (about two doctor's visits)
OTC Medicines ($50)
Prescription Medicines ($150)
First Aid Supplies ($50)
TOTAL MEDICAL COSTS $0350
Phone Cards ($200) (prepaid phone, $15/month)
Postal Fees ($100) (in case you need something shipped from home)
Extra Phone Costs ($300) (in case you don't have a cheap prepaid phone)
Equipment Repairs ($100)
TOTAL COMM. COSTS $0700
Fairs & Festivals ($120)
Music Purchases ($100)
Pubs & Clubs ($500) (for occasionally letting loose, when in one spot for awhile)
Carry-along ($500) (drink for the campsite)
Other ($1950) (whatever your recreational preference is for the next year)**
TOTAL ENTER. COSTS $3970
* Entertainment is often just as expensive as our day-to-day needs. As someone who is now interested in minimalism, I might suggest that the easiest way to go minimal (if you are interested) is to learn to cut your entertainment costs while still acquiring the entertainment.
** It's a hippie road trip...What do you want to do?
Souvenirs ($100) (junk you just have to have)
Gifts ($100) (junk for others)
Donations ($100) (give a little, maybe skip the junk and give twice as much)
Safety Net ($100) (that one unanticipated inconvenience)
TOTAL OTHER COSTS $0550
TOTAL ANNUAL COSTS $17,125
As is clearly evident, my very first trip plan was outrageously expensive, though not so much if one considers the planned duration of the trip. Living off of $17,000 a year is only slightly better than federal minimum wage at a full-time job, and you get to do it on the road, having one of the greatest adventures of your life.
I would recommend that any one looking to do the hippie road trip they saw in the movies consider this plan and adapt your own plans from it (provided you are considering a similar mode of transportation). Since the plan is budgeted to last the duration of one full year, you can simply take the number of weeks you plan your particular trip to last and multiply it by approximately $350 to get a rough estimate of the costs of your trip (the higher the number of weeks, the more accurate the estimate will be), otherwise just use the list provided and factor in your own estimates, adding or removing items as you see fit. With a little effort, and some creative thinking, you and one other person could have a very exciting adventure next year around income tax refund time! Two people who already possess a vehicle worthy of the trip could most certainly make their income tax returns last an entire season, if it is something they really wish to do.
Otherwise stay tuned or read on and learn how my plans have evolved into something much more worthy of the hippie lifestyle. How are your feet working?