Road Trips That Can Be Done On The Cheap

If you’ve opted to forego the pricey European summer vacation in favor of a more budget-friendly road trip in the States, you’re already ahead of the game in terms of saving. But while low-cost accommodations and meals will undoubtedly cut costs, diving head-first into a spontaneous cross-country excursion could still result in a nasty surprise in the form of a scary credit card bill.

Carefully plotting out your journey from beginning to end will spare you any unpleasant financial surprises, and will take the guesswork out of where to eat, sleep, and sightsee. Here are some of the very best American road trips that can be done on a strict budget.

8 Road Trips That Can Be Done On The Cheap

  1. Big Bear Lake, California
    The trip from San Francisco to Big Bear is just shy of eight hours—the perfect amount of time to blast your favorite Spotify playlists and still have time for some juicy podcasts. And if you’re in Los Angeles, Big Bear is the ideal quick and easy escape from the big city (it’s about 100 miles northeast of L.A. proper). The mountain resort is a perfect budget-friendly destination, thanks to its comprehensive website full of online coupons for everything from dining and shopping to lodging and recreation. There’s no cost to visit the destination itself, so with a little research, you can tailor-make a stay that’s totally affordable.
  2. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

    You’ve seen the seemingly endless stream of Instagram pics—now it’s time to get your own stunning selfie. Antelope Canyon is easily accessible from a number of starting points, including Phoenix, AZ, Nevada, or Utah. The epic attraction is also close to the Grand Canyon, so if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, this route will pack plenty of action. The canyon is located on Native American Navajo territory and requires a $6 entry fee. You can try your luck with local tour groups at the canyon entrance, or make a reservation ahead of time for under $40 per person.
  3. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
    If a 12-mile hike sounds like your idea of the perfect way to cap off a road trip, then consider driving Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. The high-altitude, 50-mile winding route connects the East and West passes of Glacier National Park, and includes access to the Highline Trail, a wildflower-dotted hiking path that’s not for the faint of heart—but totally free to try.
  4. Florida Keys, Florida

    A short and sweet trip south of Miami is the two-hour drive from Key West to Key Largo. The quick escape is packed with historic sites like Victorian mansions and museums (the Hemingway Home was built in 1851 and it’s where the iconic writer lived from 1931 to 1940—admission is just $14). And if you’re looking for a nature-based adventure, for just $12, you can see hundreds of butterflies, birds, and tropical plants at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
  5. Great Lakes Seaway Trail, New York and Pennsylvania
    Get a serious history lesson on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, one of the first American roads to be designated as a National Scenic Byway. The 518-mile route follows along the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River and includes an astounding 40 state parks. Presque Isle State Park is one worthy stop in particular. The (free!) natural attraction is a 3,200-acre peninsula that features miles of beach.
  6. Big Sur, California

    This central coast California destination is a must for outdoorsy types. It takes less than three hours to drive the 145 miles from San Francisco, and accommodations can be pretty cost-effective since campsites are plentiful (some cost as little as $15 a night, but you’ll have to make advanced reservations). If roughing it isn’t really your thing, you can indulge in some self-care without totally splurging—take a late-night dip in the healing waters at Esalen hot springs for just $35.
  7. Canyon Country, Utah
    National park connoisseurs will definitely want to make an adventure out of a Southern Utah excursion. Within just 650 miles of desert, you’ll find five national parks that some people consider among the best in the country. Drive from Moab to Grand Junction in just 90 minutes, and you’ll have a chance to see Arches National Park and Canyonlands (both cost just $30 for seven days’ worth of admission per private vehicle).
  8. The Loneliest Road, Nevada

    Okay, yes, the name is a drag, but you’re bound to have a pretty great time traversing this largely-isolated section of U.S. Highway 50. Because the route follows the Pony Express path, there are actually quite a few must-see attractions on the drive from Carson City to Baker, including hot springs and old mining towns.

Before you hit the road, you’ll need to have a car insurance company that has you covered. If you’re not a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Visit metromile.com for a free quote today.

How to Road Trip on Less Than $100 Per Day

If you’ve already mapped out your budget for that epic upcoming road trip—nice work! You’re one step closer to turning your behind-the-wheel fantasies into reality and activating that out-of-office automatic email reply.

How-to-Road-Trip-on-Less-Than-100-Per-Day-

But if you did all the calculations and discovered you’re a lot more strapped for cash than you realized, you might be on the brink of reconsidering that late summer getaway. Fear not, financially-challenged adventurer: you can still put together a fun, fruitful escape that’s actually affordable. Here are some strategies.

How to Road Trip on Less Than $100 Per Day

  1. Choose wisely. Sure, landing in a major metropolis might sound like the most epic way to bookend your trip, but big cities like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are notoriously expensive (which you might already know if the purpose of your trip is to try and get away from one of those places). Picking less popular points along the journey will inevitably save you money on everything from gas to food to lodging. For example: Napa Valley might call to your wine-loving heart and soul, but if you set your sights about 400 miles south, you’ll find plenty of amazing vino-themed attractions at a far lower rate. Go super simple and plan ahead, and you may be able to score a basic motel room for under $75 a night (leaving the rest for gas and food).
  2. Gas up on the go. Rather than fueling up in a big city (are you seeing a theme here?), stop for gas in small towns, where you’re more likely to save cents on the gallon. And do a quick search of the app store—there are several money-saving tools you can download directly on your phone that will help you locate the cheapest gas in your area. According to GasBuddy, the cheapest gas right now in California is $2.99 per gallon in Turlock. Rates per gallon in bigger cities like San Francisco and San Jose are close to $4. The most common cars in America have gas tanks that hold about 15 gallons, so just stopping at an off-the-beaten path station could save you about $15 (a full tank at $2.99 is about $44.85 versus $60 at the higher rate).
  3. Find free fun. It’s easy to blow a ton of cash on tourist traps, but if you do some advanced planning, you’ll find there are tons of totally free attractions, landmarks, and activities all throughout the country. Need some inspiration? Here’s a list of must-see landmarks to get you started! And if you don’t see your destination on the list, do some digging to see if local museums offer free days or if you can join a no-cost walking tour.
  4. Shop smart. The simplest way to kiss your dollar bills goodbye is by dining at a chain restaurant, diner, or mini-mart at every stop along the way. It’s totally possible to spend way less than $50 a day on food if you plan ahead and set yourself up for success. Packing snacks before you hit the road is your best option for curbing cravings and staying within your budget. Bring along items like pretzels, rice cakes, nuts, and dried fruit that will quell hunger pangs and keep you satiated between stops. And consider loading up a small cooler with heartier perishable items like hard-boiled eggs and yogurts. Not only can these items keep you going between meals, but they make for great ingredients for an on-the-go breakfast. Prices will of course vary depending on where you stock up on snack staples, but if you hit a major supermarket, you can definitely find a six-pack of yogurt, a jar of peanut butter, and a pack of bagels for well under $20—and that could be breakfast for days! Look for local eateries and avoid chain restaurants, and you can definitely get away with keeping costs low.
  5. Make sure you’re using Metromile. Even if you’re traveling long distances, pay-per-mile insurance makes perfect sense. That’s because Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as a pay-per-mile rate, capping customers’ daily mileage costs at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). So if you hit that magic number, you’re still likely to save big bucks. Your personal rate will vary depending on a number of factors like your age, gender, location, driving history, etc., but if you’re driving less than 10,000 miles a year, there’s a good chance Metromile is the provider for you. And since you’ll be paying that low rate on a monthly basis, the impact on your daily budget will be pretty minimal (though that may not be the case for other traditional insurers).

Any chance you read that and decided it’s time to seriously reconsider your current car insurance provider? Awesome. It’s time to visit www.metromile.com and get your free quote today.

The Best Free Landmarks and Road Trip Destinations

If you’ve done your due diligence planning a wallet-friendly road trip and booking the best hotel deals out there—the last thing you want to do is blow all that budgeting with some pricey sightseeing. While lots of landmarks charge a hefty admission fee, you might be surprised to discover the plethora of totally free destinations all around the country. Here’s our list of some of the very best:

The-Best-Free-Landmarks-and-Road-Trip-Destinations

The Best Free Landmarks and Road Trip Destinations:

  • Fairfield, CA: The Jelly Belly Factory. Does anyone really need a reason to hit up a literal candy factory? Whether you love Sour Cherry, Tutti-Fruitti, or Buttered Popcorn (haters, keep those comments to yourselves!), you’ll leave this road trip stop with a big smile on your face (and a ton of free samples in your mouth).
  • Birmingham, AL: Birmingham Botanical Gardens. For absolutely no cost, you can peruse 67.5 acres of 30 themed gardens at this iconic nature wonderland billed as Alabama’s largest living museum.
  • Boise, ID: Boise River Greenbelt. This 25-mile route is lined with trees and offers pedestrians a super scenic views and a wildlife habitat. Take a driving break and go for a walk or a leisurely bike ride.
  • Princeton, NJ: Princeton University. If your only point of reference for The Garden State is Jersey Shore, it’s time to take in this epic institution and recognize the state’s greatness. Besides, Michelle Obama went here, so that’s reason enough to roam any part of the 500 acres.
  • Bardstown, KY: The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. You may not get as many free samples here as you would at the aforementioned candy factory, but it’s still worth a visit. The museum houses a 50-year collection of rare whiskey-related artifacts and documents dating from pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years.
  • Des Moines, IA: The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Art lovers, prepare to really geek out. This 4.4 acre park features stunning modern sculptures from a collection of creatives, and guests are encouraged to snap pics and picnic among the works.
  • Omaha, NE: Boys Town Hall of History. This legendary site is the former dining hall built by Father Flanagan in 1939, and displays artifacts like the Best Actor Oscar Spencer Tracy won for his role as Father Flanagan in the movie, Boys Town.
  • Philadelphia, PA: The Liberty Bell. If you drive through Philadelphia and don’t take a selfie with the Liberty Bell…did you ever really drive through it at all? Get a history lesson and see the famous inscription for yourself (“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”).
  • Richmond, VA: Maymont. This 100-acre park features Japanese and Italian gardens, mansion, and a petting zoo (those last two come with a suggested donation). If you’d rather not spend any cash, you can still wander the grounds free of charge.
  • Seattle, WA: Pike Place Market. Nothing is more quintessentially Pacific Northwest than this collection of owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands, specialty food stores, and of course, a year-round farmers market. You might end up dropping serious dough on delicious snacks, but after all that penny pinching, you deserve a treat.

Before you hit the road, make sure you have a car insurer that has your back. Visit metromile.com today to get a free quote.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How to Find Great Hotel Deals on the Road

Your bags are packed, your route is set, and the perfect road trip is just a few sleeps away. Which reminds you…sleep. Where are you going to sleep?

When you’re crossing off to-dos in preparation for a driving vacation, you might remember to stock up on snacks and get your engine examined (both good things!), but you might forget the small matter of accommodations. The good news is that nowadays, you can use an endless array of apps to book a hotel room at any time. The bad news is those “last minute deals” are rarely the money-savers they claim to be.

But back to the good news: it’s totally possible to score an awesome room at a great rate if you know which hotel hacks to implement.

Here’s your handy how-to guide on booking affordable accommodations—even at the eleventh hour

  • Compare, compare, compare. The beauty of the abundance of hotel booking sites and apps is that you don’t have to swoop on the first deal you see. While it’s always a good idea to get the lay of the land from sites like Kayak and Expedia, once you have an idea of what’s out there, you can put your search engine to use and see if the specific properties listed are offering any kinds of promotions not mentioned on the money-saver sites. You might even find that a hotel’s website offers a lower rate than what’s listed anywhere else. So start sleuthing and don’t be afraid to use your smartphone as an actual phone and call the front desk!
  • Time your stay wisely. Sure, you’ll need to sleep somewhere every night you’re on the open road, but if you’re eyeing a particularly posh property (i.e. anything fancier than a Motel 6), try making your reservation mid-week. Fridays and Saturdays are peak nights for most places, so if you can plan to stay in more modest digs those nights, you may be able to land a good deal on more upscale locations Sunday through Thursday.
  • Skip hotels altogether. Traditional hotels aren’t the only travel option anymore, thanks to websites like Airbnb that allow you to stay in local apartments and homes. While you may not wake up to maid service every morning, you could potentially get a lot more space for a better price. This option is great for big groups, but if you’re on your own, you might consider staying a hostel. Before you cringe at the thought, know that modern hostels aren’t necessarily the nightmarish pseudo-dorms of your college days. Many major cities now have upgraded hostels that are still cheaper than hotels but offer nice perks like wifi, laundry, kitchens, and more.
  • Reach out to a pro. It may seem crazy to abandon the apps altogether, but hear us out: travel agents are often able to negotiate preferred rates us normies simply can’t access, and some can even get you free food and upgrades. Another plus: many agents don’t charge a fee for hotel booking services.
  • Put your credit card to use. While it’s never a good idea to charge your life away, all that shopping might come in handy when it’s time to travel. Many credit card companies offer reward points that you can redeem for hotels, flights, and more. Be sure to check your current program and see if you’re eligible for hotel discounts or free bookings.

Now that you know how to stay in style while saving cash, why not keep the penny-wise vibe alive and find car insurance that fits your needs? Visit metromile.com today to get a free quote.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How to Save Money on a Road Trip

Ah, the summer road trip. A fun, freeing way to traverse the country, see the sights, and…go totally broke before Labor Day?

While a road trip may be a more affordable vacation option then say, a European cruise or a private jet around the world, that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be wallet-friendly. Without taking the proper precautions, you may inadvertently spend way more on an automobile adventure than you intend to. But taking just a few points into consideration can spare you an unpleasant surprise when that post-trip credit card bill comes through at summer’s end.

Here are the top five tips for saving money on a road trip

  1. Plan, plan, plan.
  2. Sure, flying by the seat of your pants may sound glamorous and exciting, but going wherever the wind takes you will likely take you down an unnecessarily expensive rabbit hole of wrong turns and sky-high hotel rates. Take some time before you take off to plan your route and maybe even eye the restaurants you might want to stop at along the way. Booking hotel accommodations in advance will help you sidestep last-minute price hikes, and getting to know your path before you get on the road may prevent accidental off-course exits that require a lot more gas than you budgeted for.

  3. Download money-saving gas apps.
  4. Speaking of that gas tank—long drives can result in shockingly frequent stops to fill up, and prices can vary a ton depending on where you go. Luckily, there are several apps on the market that take the guesswork out of gassing up. Gas Buddy and Gas Guru are two apps that helps you locate the cheapest fueling stations in your area, and community-based app Waze offers real-time traffic information and current gas prices.

  5. Stock up on snacks the smart way.
  6. Look, we all love a good mini-mart shopping spree, but buying up chips, drinks, gum, and that irresistible-but-sure-to-break-in-two-seconds pair of sunglasses at every stop isn’t a great idea. Stock up on water and snacks in bulk before you hit the road, and if you absolutely have to satisfy a sudden Slurpee craving, put yourself on a strict one-item-per-stop regimen and resist the urge to impulse buy.

  7. Get a pre-trip tune-up.
  8. The worst way to spend a road trip? Stranded by the side of the road. Avoid the inconvenience, hassle, and major buzzkill of an unexpected breakdown by hitting up a local mechanic before you leave. Seeing someone you trust will also lessen the chance for getting swindled by overpriced services on unfamiliar turf.

  9. Pack the essentials.
  10. Again, this is where a little preparation and a pre-trip Costco outing or Amazon order come in handy. Even if you’re road tripping to a major destination with plenty of shops, you can save tons of cash on essentials like sunscreen and batteries if you buy them in advance.

The most important must-have for a flawless road trip? Car insurance that has you covered. So, if you haven’t made the switch to pay-per-mile car insurance, visit www.metromile.com for a free quote today.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

The Top 5 Camping Spots in Northern California

Maybe we’re a little bit biased, but we sure do love our little City by the Bay. There’s nothing quite like brunch at Park Tavern, or dancing and drinks at Blondie’s in the Mission. However – sometimes living in San Francisco can be challenging. When city life gets to be a little too much and we could use a break, the first thing on our minds is hitting the road and getting some much-needed fresh air.

Whether you’re a camping newbie or a seasoned pro who feels at home next to a roaring campfire, there’s no doubt that northern California has some of the best camping spots in the country. From exquisite beaches to the secluded mountains (and occasional dormant volcano), here are the ones that come out at the top of our list!

The Top 5 Camping Spots in Northern California

  1. Lassen Volcanic National Park:
  2. Beautiful Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to oodles of geothermal activity, as the park is one of the only places in the world where all four types of volcanoes can be found. Camp in one of the 179 campsites on the stunning Manzanita Lake, and admire the natural beauty of the national park; swim, kayak, and hike around the lake, too. The campground at Manzanita Lake has showers, flush toilets, even a coin-operated laundry. No camping gear? It’s available there for rent, or stay in one of an assortment of tidy cabins and bunkhouses.

  3. Lava Beds National Monument:
  4. Punctuated by scrabbly earth and lava rocks, at first glance the Lava Beds National Park seems barren and desolate. But take a closer look. Go camping at Indian Well Campground, and snag one of the 43 campsites (as they are on a first-come-first-served basis). Sites can accommodate tents, pickup campers, small trailers and motorhomes up to 30 feet.

  5. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park:
  6. The stunning McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is within the Cascade Range and Modoc Plateau natural region, with forest and five miles of streamside and lake shoreline, including a portion of Lake Britton. The park’s centerpiece is the 129-foot Burney Falls, which, although it is not the highest or largest waterfall in the state, it might possibly be the most beautiful! The park’s landscape was created by volcanic activity and erosion from weather and streams. Campers, keep in mind: there will be road construction near McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park for the summer of 2018. Visitors traveling from Redding on Eastbound Highway 299 can expect delays from Johnson Park to Highway 89 junction with Highway 299.

  7. Jedediah Redwoods State Park:
  8. Spend the night sleeping under the giant redwoods. Pitch your tent at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, northeast of Crescent City. Its 86-site developed campground sits beside the burbling, emerald green Smith River in a lush glade, complete with ferns and old-growth trees. You can walk from your tent to the 340-foot Stout Tree and its mammoth brethren, or go for a drive on spectacular Howland Hill Road – a 10-mile winding dirt road through old-growth redwoods.

  9. Lake Tahoe:
  10. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention our beloved Lake Tahoe. The camping at Lake Tahoe is beyond – between the majestic mountainous views and shimmering blue water, you can’t go wrong pitching your tent at Lake Tahoe. Some of the best campgrounds are in the Lake Tahoe area include Camp Richardson, Sugar Pine Point Campground, and Sand Harbor. Bike, kayak, and hike while taking in the fresh mountain air at one of California’s crowning jewels.

Now, who’s ready to pack up the camping gear and hit the road? Remember that Metromile caps your daily mileage at 250/miles per day in California, so don’t worry about racking up crazy mileage – we’ve got you covered! If you’re not yet a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Get a free quote today to find out how much we could allow you to save every year!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

7 Things You Absolutely Need to Have in Your Trunk

Your vehicle is the epicenter of your comfort zone, however, it often takes you to places that are all but safe and secure. Because of that, you need to understand just how important it is to be prepared for any situation. Luckily, your trunk is most likely big enough to help. This is especially important to think about since you might find yourself behind the wheel of a car whose origin you’re not familiar with (e.g. a new buy or a rental vehicle).

Nevertheless, you can’t have it all, seeing as how even the biggest of trucks have a limited amount of space. For instance, carrying a tent when going on a road trip or camping is a great idea, but carrying it around during your commute to work or when visiting your relatives in another town is just ludicrous. With that in mind and without further ado, here are 7 things you absolutely need to have in your trunk at all times.

7 Things You Absolutely Need to Have in Your Trunk

  1. Jumper Cables:
    You would be shocked at just how often the battery in your vehicle drains. Once this happens, you need only two things to get it up and running. First, you need a friendly passerby. Second, you need a set of jumper cables. Sure, there’s always a probability that a person you stop will have their own jumper cables, but why take the risk? As for the use, you just connect black to black and red to red, while carefully holding for the rubber part. One last tip: make sure that both cars are in neutral when you first connect the cables.
  2. First Aid Kit:
    The next thing you need in your vehicle is a sealed first aid kit. This is one of those items you hope you’ll never get to use, yet it is also something you can’t even risk starting your car without. No matter how quickly you call the EMT and how fast their response is, you might need to do a bit more in order to preserve life. First aid kits have some of the essential items necessary for you to do so.
  3. Hazard Vest and Triangle:
    One of the things that a lot of people neglect to understand is the gravity of an emergency breakdown. Sure, taking your car to a reliable car repair center is mandatory before any trip, however, unexpected things may happen, even if you do have a nearby mechanic on speed dial. You need to know how to protect your motionless vehicle on the side of the road.

    During the night, hazard vests and triangles will help you get spotted by arriving mechanic/towing service, thus preventing the possibility of getting missed or hit. Furthermore, some insurance companies, like Metromile, already provide 24/7 roadside assistance, which is yet another handy safeguard to have in mind.

  4. Spare Tire and Jack Lug Wrench:
    There is virtually no driver out there who hasn’t had a flat tire at least once in his or her life. Therefore, it’s outright irresponsible sitting behind the wheel, let alone going on a road trip, if you don’t know how to change a tire. Still, knowledge alone might not suffice, seeing as how you can’t unscrew the bolts with your bare hand (at least not if they’re safely fastened). That’s why you need a lug wrench, as well as a spare. Aside from this, you also need a jack in order to lift your car slightly off the ground. Once you have these three items, you’ll be able to safely replace any flat tire without any worry.
  5. Flashlight:
    The next item you absolutely must have in your trunk is a flashlight. Keep in mind that some on-road accidents may happen at night. Needless to say, your level of mechanical prowess is completely irrelevant if you can’t see what you’re doing. Fortunately, a flashlight doesn’t take much space, which is why some prefer to keep it up front in the glove compartment. In this way, you can get your hands on it as soon as the vehicle stops.
  6. Air Pump:
    While some people may disagree on this point, it’s incredibly important to have an air pump with you. Sure, a spare tire is always a more reliable solution but what happens if two of your tires go flat. At least one of them might be inflated so why wouldn’t you have a device that can help you do that in your trunk.
  7. Blanket:
    Finally, this item may seem a bit unexpected on the list, but there’s really no reason for such surprise. After all, a blanket is a multi-tool to be used on so many different occasions. On a road trip, you can use it as a surface on which you can set up your camp. In a situation where you’re forced to stop unexpectedly, you can use it to wrap yourself in and get a bit warmer, more comfortable sleep. And if you’re ever forced to pull something hot or dirty, you can wrap the blanket around it to act as an insulator. You would be surprised just how often the latter situation occurs.

At the very end, there are some additional things you might consider taking like some water and snacks. The key to the list was to include items you can just safely deposit in the trunk and forget you even have them there. Snacks may have an expiration date and aren’t really vital to urban commute, even during the rush hour. As for the above-listed seven items, they don’t take much space but make a world of difference.

Nick is a blogger and a management expert currently engaged in projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and a passionate traveler.

Summer Travel: 10 Things You’re Forgetting To Do

Isn’t summer the best? The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and your boss seems to be slightly more lenient when you leave for the weekend on a Friday at 3pm. You’ve planned every minute detail of your trip, packed the kids and the dog up and everyone has their Ass In Seat™ – so what are you forgetting? Keep scrolling to find out (hint: they’re important AF)!

10 Things You’re Forgetting To Do Before Your Summer Travels

  1. Turn the AC off. If you accidentally leave your AC running for a week straight, be prepared to come home to an enormous electric bill. No matter how hot it will be when you’re gone, always make sure to turn off your AC before leaving for your trip – unless you have an exorbitant amount of extra money to afford to keep an empty house cool.
  2. Put a bottle of water in your freezer. This tip is a two-parter. Part one: fill a clear water bottle up halfway and place in your freezer on its side. Part two: once the water has completely frozen, turn the bottle right-side up and keep frozen. If you return from your trip and some of the water has pooled and frozen on the bottom of the bottle (instead of staying frozen sideways), you’ll know that your home lost power for a period of time while you were gone. This means that the food in your freezer thawed out, potentially spoiled, and was refrozen when the power came back on. Gross.
  3. Make sure your car is parked in the shade. If you’re flying somewhere instead of taking a road trip, make sure your car is garaged or parked somewhere shady before you leave. Leaving your car out of the direct sun for days on end will help prevent the interior from fading and your dashboard from drying out and cracking. Bonus points if you use one of those giant silver windshield sun protectors!
  4. Clean out the fridge and take the trash out. I toyed with the idea of making this tip number one, because it’s probably one of the most important tips and I didn’t want you to skip over it whilst skimming. 1000% make sure to do this before you leave. If you forget to do it, your home will literally smell like hot garbage when you return.
  5. Passports. It seems obvious, but always double-check that you packed them. This also seems obvious – but this tip only applies if you’re traveling internationally.
  6. Pay bills or schedule automatic payments. Paying bills is the last thing you want to be thinking about while you’re frolicking on your summer adventure, so pay them before you leave or set up automatic payments. If you’re a Metromile customer, your bill is already set up as an automatic payment – so that’s one bill already checked off your list!
  7. Make digital copies of important items like passports, etc. and email them to yourself and someone who isn’t traveling with you. If you lose your passport while traveling, the first thing that the US Embassy will ask is if you have a digital copy. Emailing them to yourself and someone who isn’t traveling with you also covers you in the event that your phone or laptop (with the digital copies saved) is stolen.
  8. Put your mail on hold. Thieves love to scope out houses or apartments with piled up mail and packages because it signals that no one has been home in a while. Contact USPS to have your mail put on hold while you’re traveling, or have a friend stop by to bring the mail inside daily.
  9. Call your bank. Imagine this – after a long day of traveling, you go to check into your hotel and your credit card is declined. Ugh. Many banks and credit card companies will flag charges in dissimilar locations as fraud and decline them. Be sure to take this proactive step and contact your bank and credit card companies to let them know the location you’re traveling to and the dates you’ll be there.
  10. Set your Out of Office response. Even though you might be out-of-pocket checking emails while you’re traveling, don’t forget to set your OOO responder on your work and personal email accounts. This will let your colleagues know that you’ll be slower to respond and will maybe get you off-the-hook for answering some of them until you return.

So, how are you feeling? Did you check everything off the list? Great! Go have fun on your summer adventure, and don’t worry – we’ll be here when you get back. If you haven’t made the switch to Metromile yet, the summer is a great time to check out a quote to find out how much you could be saving, so grab yours today! Have a fab time on your summer travels and be safe out there on the roads.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

7 of The Most Affordable Travel Destinations in the U.S.

Summer is the perfect time to explore all the awesomeness America has to offer, but if you’re on a budget, you might feel like your options are severely limited. Fear not, ambitious traveler: some of the country’s best landmarks are actually surprisingly affordable, and some are even free! So pack your bags and hop in the car—you have some sights to see:

7 of The Most Affordable Travel Destinations in the U.S.

Williamsburg, VA
Step up your U.S. history trivia knowledge and travel to Colonial Williamsburg for some education and culture. If you take advantage of one of the special discounted passes, you can visit multiple historical sites and amusement parks for a fraction of the cost. And don’t forget to ride The Jamestown Ferry for great views—it’s completely free!

The Grand Canyon

If you haven’t made a pilgrimage to this natural wonder in northern Arizona, it’s definitely worth a visit. Officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the iconic canyon measures approximately 277 river miles in length and up to 18 miles in width. While hotels inside the site can be pricey, camping at the canyon can be totally wallet-friendly, and if you save your visit for September (or a few other select calendar dates throughout the year), you can even skip the entrance fee altogether.

Biloxi, MS
Maybe you don’t equate “beach vacation” with Mississippi, but believe it or not, Biloxi is full of sand, surf, and—cha ching!—plenty of casinos. Some of the properties may be high-priced, but if you book a bit in advance, you should be able to secure a spot at one of the town’s hotels for under $100 a night.

Memphis, TN

Where else can you visit Elvis Presley’s Graceland kingdom and tour the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll? Memphis is a super cool destination that simply doesn’t get enough attention for its multitude of tourist offerings—many of which are reasonably priced. If you opt for a Backstage Pass, you gain access to the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Sun Studio, Graceland and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music for one flat rate of $84.

Greenville, SC
Foodies, take note! Greenville has been making headlines for its burgeoning reputation as a culinary capital, and there’s plenty more to do when you’re not getting your grub on. The Greenville County Museum of Art houses collections by legends like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, and the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail is a must for bike riders.

Sequoia National Park

You can’t consider an outdoorsy California adventure complete until if you’ve hit up this majestic location, which is home to some of the world’s tallest trees. Snag a spot at one of the park’s 14 campgrounds to save money on lodging, and stock up on picnic items on your way in to avoid the marked up prices onsite.

Chicago, IL
People need to make a bigger deal out of this city’s stunning architecture and incomparable food scene. You can take in a ton of sights for free, like the Garfield Park Conservatory, and fill up on authentic cuisine for under $10 at classic spots like Portillo’s.

Ready to hit the open road? Make sure you have an insurer who has your back. If you haven’t yet made the switch to pay-per-mile car insurance, visit www.metromile.com today for a free quote.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

Staying Healthy on a Road Trip

Whether you’re a full-time student or you haven’t taken a final since the last century, you might be feeling that familiar summer vacation itch—once June hits, just about everyone seems to be feeling ready to skip town and let loose. Rather than fight the urge, why not hit the road?

Staying-Healthy-on-a-Road-Trip

Road trips can be quick, convenient, and totally fulfilling. In fact, according to MMGY Global, one of the country’s largest travel and hospitality marketing firms, road trips accounted for about 22 percent of vacations taken by United States travelers in 2015, and 39 percent the following year. Thanks to the flexibility of the stop-and-go mode of travel and the elimination of all that airport hassle, vacationers love exploring all of America’s awesomeness from behind the wheel.

But if you’ve been spending the rest of the year trying to stay healthy, camping out in your car for eight-or-so hours a day during a summer road trip may not sound like a great lifestyle choice. The good news is, there are super simple ways you can prepare for a more active, wholesome, all-around healthy vacation on wheels. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Pack snacks. Obviously, great food is one of the key features of a solid road trip, but as you probably guessed, most gas station snacks aren’t exactly nutrient-dense. Rather than filling the front seat with bags of chips and candy bars, pack a cooler with good-for-you treats like fruit, carrots, yogurt, string cheese, and more. Trail mix, raw nuts, and granola are all great options too, but you may want to portion them out ahead of time to avoid accidentally consuming a day’s worth of calories in a single stretch of highway.
  2. Sip between stops. It’s easy to forget to hydrate when you’re belting your heart out to cheesy pop songs (a road trip must), but it’s crucial to keep a bottle of H20 handy at all times. Reusable, BPA-free bottles are your best bet, and you can add some ice to keep things cool. You definitely don’t want to let dehydration set in since it can zap your energy—not a good thing when you’re operating heavy machinery (or ever, really).
  3. Move your body. Just because you’re sitting most of the day doesn’t mean you have to be totally sedentary. Make it a point to schedule in stops several times a day, and get some steps in before you get back in the car. Also be sure to stretch your hip flexors, shoulders, and neck, since these areas are likely to get tight and tense after a long day of driving.
  4. Slather on the SPF. A classic mistake drivers make is forgoing the sunscreen. Just because you’re technically not outside, the sun’s rays are still beating down on your exposed skin. Be sure to apply SPF generously, and reapply every few hours.
  5. Never, ever (ever) use your phone while driving. This should go without saying, but texting, Tweeting, checking the map, changing the music, etc. should not be happening while you’re behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,450 lives in 2016 alone If you have a co-pilot or pals in the backseat, have them keep your phone out of your sight and keep their own use to a minimum. Enjoy the open road, and leave the phone for later.

Feeling inspired yet? Pick a perfect destination and start driving! And if you need an insurer that has your back, hit up Metromile: visit metromile.com/insurance to learn more and get a quick quote. Happy trails!

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.