I promised in my original post for the Short and Feisty Finance Series to give you some tids and bits on traveling solo on a budget. So when I had the inspiration to pick up my act and head out to the Sequoia National Forest two days ago, I rejoiced at the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Not only would I have the chance to get some fresh mountain air flowing through my bloodstream, but I would be able to make good on a blog promise.
SO. PRODUCTIVE. Y’ALL.
This’ll end up being a multi-part post to get to every Big Moment Detail on this trip–Sequoia National Park is huge and I only saw a tiny bit, but that’s actually a lot!
For this first post, we’ll stick to the financial aspects so I can redeem the radio silence I’ve permitted to pervade this blog:
Now the number one rule you need to know when starting this single travel endeavor is: planning is everything.
I kind of spontaneously decided last Friday that I’d be making this trek the following Tuesday. That is so unlike me (actually, it’s really like me). So, I did, indeed, break the cardinal rule. I work Saturday-Monday evening, with tiny little people that suck out my energy and focus like whiny, sadistic, mosquitos–so intense planning went by the wayside.
I did map out my route on the Google Maps app on my phone and determined that the mileage would equate to about a tank of gas in my Prius (7 hours round trip!). I enjoy driving, so the length of time didn’t deter me. I did NOT consider the fact that mountain driving, climbing to more than 7,000 feet, would probably take a harder toll on that gasoline estimate. It ended up being a little over a tank–$35.
Remember when I said that I didn’t put a lot of forethought into this trip? Well, this translated to neglecting a stratagem for obtaining victuals. There was a Starbucks not far from the entrance to the park that served as my “brunch” spot, and I was so put off by all the bear warnings (you can’t even leave it in your car because bears are smart and know what food looks like!) that I didn’t even bother to search for food in or near the park. I did drink plenty of the free water from the park re-fill stations. On the way back onto the highway, I revisited my friendly Starbucks and came to $16 total for all food and beverages. If you eat cheaply, you save so so much money. Skip the sit down restaurants and keep it moving.
Most of the National Parks have a “per car” entry fee–Sequoia’s fee is $20 per non-commercial vehicle. I plan to make a habit out of visiting as many National Parks as I can within the next year, so I sprung for the “America the Beautiful” Annual Pass which allows me to visit more than 2,000 federal recreation sites (that’s not even counting the many sites that don’t have an entry fee). That totals $80 for the pass. This is expensive up front but will end up saving a lot in entry fees if I use it like I’m planning to!
So for a full day of discovery and exploration, I cost my bank account: $131 (would’ve been $71 total without the pass).
That’s well worth the money for an awesome staycation visiting one of America’s most well-known and loved landmarks.
- Don’t follow my example and make sure to PLAN—
- Drive if the distance is reasonable and save on travel–
- Skip the sit down meals and go for either grocery store gatherings or safely consumable fast food–
- Find a place with little or NO entry fee OR find a pass that’ll allow for savings in the long run–
Over the next few days (more realistically, weeks) I’ll divulge all of the awesome-tastic-Sequoian details. There may or may not have been bears.