How to Calculate a Daily Road Trip Travel Budget

It’s no secret that vacation planning can be headache-inducing. The logistics, scheduling, and reservations are painful enough to figure out, but then there’s that money issue. If you’ve decided to swap the sky-high cost of airfare for a more affordable car trip, you’re already on the road to big savings (all puns totally intended). But even if you’ve figured out the tricks for snagging sweet hotel deals and cutting corners to save cash, you’ll still be faced with plenty of financial decisions as you drive. The best way to avoid an unpleasant post-trip credit card bill is to set a realistic budget that keeps you in check while leaving room for plenty of fun—this is a vacation, after all.

How-to-Calculate-a-Daily-Road-Trip-Travel-Budget

Here’s how to calculate a daily road trip allowance:

  1. See what you’re working with. To get the ball rolling, it’s best to know exactly how much money is in the pot, so to speak. To do that, take your monthly income and subtract all your expenses (car insurance, rent, phone bill, cable TV that you sadly won’t be watching while traveling, etc.). Once you have that leftover number, consider that your limit. Sure, you could charge outside your means, but that pretty much defeats the whole “traveling on a budget” concept. Unless you have a special savings fund to pull from, stick to spending within your monthly net income.
  2. Figure out your fueling needs. The most obvious expense you’ll encounter on a regular basis is, of course, gas. If you’re traversing the country, it may be tough to pin down an specific price per gallon, since costs vary from place to place. Even if you can’t land on an exact dollar amount, you can take an educated guess and round up, just to be safe. And if you have no idea where the open road is taking you, just rely on the national average, which is currently $2.85 per gallon.

    Your total for the day will of course depend on your vehicle’s tank and the amount your driving per day. But for clarity’s sake, here’s an example: Some of the most common cars in America have gas tanks that hold about 15 gallons, and get up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. If you’re driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles one day, that’s about 383 miles, which you should be able to do on one tank of gas (15 x 30 = 450 miles). Based on the national average, that’ll cost you about $43 if that’s all you’re driving in a day, but it’s worth rounding up to $50 to be safe (or more to be extra safe).

    A few more ways to save on gas:

    • Gas Buddy and Gas Guru are two apps that help you locate the cheapest fuel around.
    • Community-based app Waze offers real-time traffic information and gas prices. Be sure to keep your oil fresh, engine tuned, and tires inflated to ensure better mileage, and when you can, fill up outside of big cities, where prices are often way higher.

    And of course, if you’re a Metromile customer, you’ll want to make sure to keep an eye on your daily distance since you have the benefit of pay-per-mile coverage. If you’re worried about accruing a big bill because you’re traveling—relax. Metromile caps the daily mileage costs at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). But if you’d prefer to stay under that limit, map out your daily route ahead of time, and make sure to pull over once you’ve hit that self-imposed max. Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as that pay-per-mile rate, so chances are, you’ll still save big—whether you’re driving all day or limiting your miles—just because you’re a Metromile customer. Congrats!

  3. Factor in accommodations. This will of course vary tremendously depending on whether you’re camping, glamping, or going for full-out luxury (that last one probably shouldn’t be in the cards if you’re trying to save…but you knew that). While the current average daily rate for a U.S. hotel hovers around $127, that amount could fluctuate a ton. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to sidestep exorbitant hotel costs, so take advantage of every tip and trick you can ahead of time!
  4. Eat economically. The simplest way to slip up and spend way more than expected is to fall into a “treat yo’self” mentality when it comes to food. Yes, you’re on vacation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a steak dinner is in order every night (those four bags of chips at each rest stop may not be a great idea either). If you have no idea how to begin calculating an approximate food allowance, consider allotting $5 a day for breakfast, about $10 for lunch, and $15 to $30 for dinner. That should give you a fair amount of wiggle room without leaving you ravenous. But eating cheap doesn’t have to mean subsisting on an all-junk diet. Some ways to spend less that don’t involve drive-through at every stop:

    • Hit the grocery store. Better yet, before your trip, pay a visit to a bulk store and stock up on big quantities of wholesome car-safe snacks that don’t require refrigeration (think: rice cakes, pretzels, popcorn, etc.). And invest in a cooler to pack nutritious perishables (yogurt, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, etc.). The accessory will pay for itself when you realize how much you’ll be saving on road snacks.
    • Go halfsies. Traveling with family or friends? Consider splitting entrees when you sit down for meals. Portion sizes at most restaurants are way beyond single serving, and since you probably won’t be hauling leftovers with you, order a single meal for two.
    • Eat breakfast before you go out if you can. If you are staying in a hotel, you might just be able to score a free breakfast buffet. And even if that’s not the case, you can still make a pretty hearty morning meal without overspending at a diner. Oatmeal packets are awesome options to keep on hand (just add water!), and fruit, granola bars, and more can set you up with a solid base so you’re not starving by lunchtime.
    • Eat like a local. Talk to people around town and ask where they love to dine. Chances are, it probably won’t be at a chain restaurant. You’re more likely to find a delicious, affordable destination off-the-beaten-path if you do a little research.

If you’re not a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Visit metromile.com for a free quote today. 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.

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.

Do You Fly More Than You Drive?

When contemplating potential savings opportunities for vacation, it can be easy to default to taking a road trip rather than booking air travel. However – recent fluctuating gas prices have thrown that assumption for a loop. Now, the comparative costs of flying and driving depend on more elements than just gas prices (such as how much you’re paying for car insurance!).

Do-You-Fly-More-Than-You-Drive

Maybe you travel a lot for work. Maybe you live in the city and take public transportation or use ride-sharing apps. Whatever the case may be (and maybe without even realizing it), it is possible that you decide to fly or take other forms of transportation more often than you decide to drive. Of course, there are pros and cons to all forms of transportation, but here’s a checklist you can use to find out if your frequent flier miles are racking up faster than your odometer.

Do You Fly More Than You Drive?: A Checklist

  • Have you taken more than 5 air travel trips this year?
  • Do you average less than 1,000 miles driven per month?
  • Do you take frequent 2 hour (or less) flights?
  • Do you usually reserve a rental car at your destination?
  • Do you find yourself relying on public transportation (i.e. subway, bus, train, etc.) or using ridesharing apps to get to your destination?
  • Does cost-savings on a trip matter to you?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you probably fly more than you drive. This checklist is not an exact science, however – to truly calculate it, you will have to do some number-crunching of your own. If you have a suspicion that you fly more than you drive, then it might be worthwhile to do the math.

Thanks to the Internet, there are some handy tools you can use to figure it out. With these online calculators, all you need to do is enter some basic information that you probably know off the top of your head. Keep in mind: these sites typically say that they are for information purposes only, so don’t blame them (or us) if their answers don’t match up to the ones you produced using your own formulas. BeFrugal lets you enter your vehicle make, model, and travel information and then compares the calculated cost with current airline prices. BeFrugal also lets you compare carbon dioxide emissions for each mode of travel. CostToDrive calculates how much you’ll pay to drive from one U.S. city to another based on your vehicle model. AAA offers its online Fuel Cost Calculator to members and non-members alike – for free.

Also, don’t forget that your car insurance is an additional cost to factor into your flying vs. driving calculations. If you’re calculating monthly expenditures (rather than yearly), be sure to divide your yearly premium payment by 12 to get your monthly car insurance cost.

This brings me to my final point and the pinnacle of our discussion: if you’ve realized that you fly more than you drive, then Metromile could be a great option for your car insurance! We structure our monthly billing cycles on the pay-per-mile model – therefore, the less you drive, the less you pay each month. Why pay exorbitant car insurance premiums if you find yourself flying (or taking other forms of transportation) more than you drive?

Even if you haven’t yet done the math, click on over to grab a free quote from Metromile. It will only take a few minutes and may potentially save you hundreds of $$$ this year! That’s a few hundred more in your bank account to book your next trip, so what are you waiting for? As always, be safe out there and see you 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

Do You Need Rental Car Insurance When You Travel?

If you’ve ever rented a car, you know firsthand how bewildering the experience can be. The rental car company give you a daily rate, but there always seems to be hidden fees cloaked in ambiguous terms (what is a ‘vehicle license recovery fee,’ anyway?). Then, there’s the car insurance. Do you actually need it when you’re already paying for insurance on the vehicle that you own?

Do You Need Rental Car Insurance When You Travel?

From your existing car insurance coverage to getting coverage through your credit card company, let’s explore the options available to you – a sure-fire way to prevent the rental car companies from wringing you dry.

Will I be covered by my existing car insurance policy?

First things first: will your existing car insurance policy cover your rental car? It might. Check your policy to find out which coverages extend to your rental car before getting up to the counter. That way, you can confidently add or decline the rental car insurance when you’re put on-the-spot by a pushy rental car agent. Do keep in mind that rental cars may be covered under your car insurance policy for personal use only – that means if you’re using the rental car for business or commercial uses, your insurance may not cover it.

Will my credit card company provide rental car coverage?

If you’re planning on using a credit card to pay for your rental, you may be covered by the credit card company. Check with your credit card company to find out what additional rental car coverage is provided. All four major credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) provide some sort of rental car coverage.

To ensure that you’re covered, you must pay for the entire rental car bill on your credit card and decline any supplemental insurance offered by the rental car company. This is key – if you sign up for the supplemental coverage, your credit card company will not cover you. Also, your credit card company will not cover your rental car in some popular destinations, including: Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and Australia. Again, to avoid frustration and confusion, be sure you have all the answers on what is covered and what isn’t before you get up to the rental car counter.

When should I opt-in for rental car insurance, then?

Ah, yes. There are a handful of situations where opting into rental car insurance just makes sense:

  • You’re traveling for business: As previously mentioned, if you’re using the rental car for business or commercial purposes, you likely may not be covered through your existing policy.
  • You don’t have car insurance (or you have the bare minimum): If:
    • a) you don’t have car insurance,
    • b) you have very high deductibles, or
    • c) you don’t have comprehensive and/or collision coverage,

    you’ll probably want to think about at least opting for the rental company’s loss damage waiver. If you have no car insurance at all, you’ll also need to spring for supplemental liability.

  • You’re traveling abroad to a destination that’s not covered: If you’re traveling internationally, chances are that your car insurance provider won’t cover your rental car. Again, popular international destinations, such as Italy, Australia, Ireland, Israel, and Jamaica are not eligible for rental car coverage through your credit card company.
  • You’re worried about an incident affecting your existing car insurance premiums: If you’re worried about getting into an accident in the rental car and concerned your car insurance premiums will go up, get the rental car insurance. This way, you’ll still be covered and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your existing car insurance rate won’t skyrocket.

Remember – rental car companies are counting on you to not do your homework. Show up to the counter prepared and know when to opt-in and when to decline the rental car insurance coverage (those agents can be pushy!). If you’re already a Metromile customer, most Metromile policy coverages do transfer to the rental vehicle. There is no need to plug the Pulse device into the rental vehicle as you won’t be charged for mileage while driving the rental vehicle. Be sure to consult your policy contract or feel free to contact us if you have any questions about your coverage. If you’re not yet a Metromile customer, click here to get a free quote today to find out how much you could be saving! Be safe out there and see you 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

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.