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Tips and Tricks for Saving Money on the Road: A Travel Nurse’s Guide
So, you’ve decided to take a road trip to get to your next travel nursing gig. To make the most of your travel nursing salary, you want to be frugal, especially in between gigs. How do you save money along the way?
Nothing adds up like last-minute costs. If you skip the planning phase of your travel nursing adventure, it can cost you a pretty penny. Maximize your savings and streamline your budget by planning ahead.
Tap the best tools
Here are some apps that can help you plot out a thrifty road trip — without skimping on fun:
- Roadtrippers — This app helps you find every rest stop, campsite, gas station, and Wendy’s along your route. It helps you brainstorm your needs ahead of time, with your budget in mind.
- Kayak — This must-have travel website and app allow you to compare hotel rates, car rental rates, airfare, and even local event prices across multiple sites so you can be sure you are getting a deal.
- Waze — Waze is a GPS tool that is live-updated by other users. You can also anticipate what route will be the clearest at the specific day and time that you’ll be traveling.
- GasBuddy helps you do find the cheapest gas along the way. Plus, it has a handy trip price calculator that helps you anticipate how much you’ll spend throughout your trip, with location-specific cost estimates.
Shop for the road
Food you buy on the road can really add up. Go grocery shopping before you leave. And keep a cooler in the backseat to keep your perishables fresh.
Give yourself plenty of time for shipping
If you wait until the last minute, shipping your favorite books or outfits may cost you 3 or 4 times more than shipping early.
Make your fuel go farther
You want to save on gas every day, but especially when you’re traveling long distances and traveling often between gigs. Here are some money-saving tips every travel nurse can implement at the pump and on the road.
Prep your ride
Just like in healthcare, emergency car care tends to cost a lot more than preventive care. Plus, a machine that’s running well uses fuel efficiently. Doing some work in advance can save you in the long-run.
- Get an oil change.
- Change or rotate your tires.
- Grab a spare tire.
- Check the coolant.
- Check your air filters.
Driving safely doesn’t just help you avoid being a patient — it’s pennywise, too. Follow these fuel efficiency road tips:
- Drive sensibly. Gunning the gas and suddenly braking puts your budget in danger.
- Observe the speed limit. Faster is not always better, and it’s often more expensive.
- Avoiding hauling cargo on your roof. Opt for towing to save on gas.
- Avoid excess weight. Pack light when you can.
- Avoid excessive idling. It’s almost literally burning money.
- Use cruise control. It helps you relax on a long ride and it’s more efficient than varying your speed.
Consider a carpool
Know another travel nurse who’s headed your way? Join forces and share the costs of gas, food, and lodging. Commutewise is a carpooling social network that allows you to find people to share rides with.
Think outside the hotel room
In most places in the country, it’s hard to get a decent hotel room for much less than $100/night. But the HoJo isn’t the only place you can rest for the night on your way to your next big adventure.
- Airbnb — The famed home-share site is a great place to find lodging deals all along your trip, especially if you have a little lead-time before your stay. (The nicest and most inexpensive places are, of course, the most in-demand). You can stay in a Bali-inspired garden oasis in Portland, a tree house in Los Angeles, or Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom in Chicago, all for under $75/night.
- Reserve America — If you enjoy communing with nature and saving some green, you can opt for camping. With Reserve America, you can pick out and book any amenities you would like at national parks along your route. Enjoy a tent site or splurge on a yurt or log cabin.
- Hostels.com — You may think hostels are just for European backpackers and college students. But expand your mind. Many hostels offer private rooms for a song.
Looking for more on travel nursing finances? Check out our blog on everything you need to know about travel nursing compensation.
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