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Driving Vacations

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for August, 2001 -- Vol. 5, No. 4

Even with the price of gas as high as it is, driving vacations are still a huge bargain. (And US readers, count your blessings! In some parts of Europe, gas reached $4 a gallon back around 1990!).

If you have a family of four and you find a really cheap airfare, you'll probably pay at least $200 round trip per person--or $800 for the four of you.

But if you drive three hours to an "exotic" but nearby location in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon, you'll consume roughly 18 gallons of gas to go 360 miles round trip. At $2 per gallon, that's all of $36. Even if you add 10 cents a mile to cover other auto expenses, including wear and tear, that makes your actual car cost $72.

So already, before you even factor in the cost of a rental car, you've just saved a minimum of $728. If you pay another $250 to rent a car for a week--and then you still have to put gas in the tank--the savings are over $1000. And if you have the kind of car that you can camp in...

Where can you go that's interesting in three to five hours? Every area has great attractions nearby. I can't begin to cover them all, but here are a few ideas:

FROM NEW YORK: Boston, rural New England, the Jersey Shore, Washington, DC, the Catskills and Finger Lakes, Adirondacks, Chesapeake Bay, Pennsylvania Dutch Country...

FROM CHICAGO: Wisconsin Dells, Indianapolis, Springfield (land of Lincoln), Iowa...

FROM SAN FRANCISCO: Redwood Country, Santa Cruz/Monterrey/Big Sur, mid-coast and northern beaches, Napa wine region, the Sierras, Davis (the bicycle capital of the US)...

FROM DENVER: The 14-er ranges and most of scenic Colorado, Taos/SantaFe, Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park...

FROM MIAMI: Key West, Everglades National Park, Orlando...

And if you live near a border, there's lots to explore in Canada or Mexico!

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