We're all just balling on a budget. Being 20-something can be difficult, purely because you're feeling young, wild, and free, but also bogged down with bills. You want to have adventures, go to happy hours, and make all the memories with your besties, but the funds for fun aren't always there. Like the almost-adult you are, you start choosing cable over Chipotle, and electricity over experiences. You're alive, but are you living? Fortunately, you don't need to be a millionaire to be rich, or take a road trip. The best road trips to take with your friends won't leave you broke, and will be unbelievably beautiful alike.
From national parks to natural wonders, the world is perfect for your wandering soul and not-so-wealthy wallet. There are cities that get some sleep and are still beyond worth seeing, and beaches that will take your breath away.
When we think of traveling, we often think of dropping loads of our savings on plane tickets and places to stay. We forget that sometimes the best trips are those that keep us grounded -- the day-long getaways, slightly-upgraded staycations, and the trips on the roads that might be well-traveled.
So, stop counting your cash and start making some memories. These road trips will be worth your time and just a little bit of money, too.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
For just $25 per vehicle, you and your friends could have complete access to picturesque woodlands, rocky beaches, and glacier-peaked mountain climbing.
Sitting right on the Atlantic Coast, Acadia National Park is the home to Cadillac Mountain and scenic New England views. It's the perfect spot to start getting back to all sorts of nature -- with full services for camping, hiking, boating, swimming, climbing, and more. Even if you just picnic along one of the many ponds, or take a slightly chilly at Sand Beach, it's worth the road trip and picture possibilities.
2. Route 66, Chicago, IL To Los Angeles, CA
Cue up Rihanna's "Desperado," because there's no road trip quite as wild as this Western one. Riding along Route 66 has become something of an American Dream for road trippers. The neon signs, family-owned motels, and roadside scenery take you on a trip through time -- and you'll finish feeling more appreciative of our modern world, having seen it's most original roots.
Nicknamed the "Main Street of America," the drive is more than 2,000 miles long, so prep a really good playlist filled with classic rock and new indie alternative tunes alike. (Maybe some Bob Dylan and Van Halen mixed with The Lumineers?)
The road trip of a lifetime will require a little budgeting for gas money, snacks, or maybe a motel stop or two, but when your bank account has had enough, just hop off the next exit. Nostalgia will have taken you millions of miles away.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Life's a beach -- but when the budget calls, ditch the tropical resort for something equally as sandy and so much more scenic. Great Sand Dunes National Park is the ideal spot for sand sledding, backpacking, and photography. Home to the highest sand dunes in North America, the park is open 24/7 so that visitors can enjoy not just the sandy 'scape, but a panorama of stars as well.
Night owls craving an epic late night adventure should add stargazing or wildlife watching at this national park to the top of their bucket list. You won't want to sleep on what the Colorado night sky has to offer.
4. Burlington, Vermont
Last summer I hit the road with my mom to see this quaint and artsy city amongst the green mountains. It's a quiet and easy trip up to Lake Champlain, but when you reach the city, you'll be instantly attracted to bustling farmer's markets, restaurants, breweries, and little shops along the Church Street Marketplace.
Vermont is all-in-all pretty remote. Disconnecting isn't difficult when you're driving and lose data connection. Only a day trip away for some New Englanders, I hope you hop in your car and spend just a little time and money on a place so sweet. (Vermont is the home of Ben & Jerry's, after all!)
5. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Spend a day in the desert. It's worth every dime.
Two deserts diverge in this hot spot in southern California -- creating a perfect park for your next road trip plans. For just $25 per vehicle, or $40 for a yearly pass, you can have access to a natural playground for camping, stargazing, and rock climbing.
Bring your camera along for the ride, because you'll want to capture every cactus and beautiful piece of bark you pass. Geologists in particular can tell you how much this place rocks, with natural phenomena right at your fingertips.