Road Trip: Surprisingly Expensive

Last weekend we took a three-day road trip from Lisbon to Gibraltar and Seville.  I don’t think I would ever plan a trip to Gibraltar, but since I was able to drive there, why not?

Car

The car is a crucial part of a road trip.  The difference between a miniature and a economy size was $1 a day, so I went for the economy one.  The automatic car was an additional $30 a day, so I went with the manual.  The only reason I learned to drive a stick was to save on rental cars.  The car was only $8 a day but had $57 in initial fees for crossing the border and the toll collection device.  If the trip were longer the price would have been really great as it would just be $8 for additional days.

Gas is expensive in Europe.  In fact, many things are expensive like electronics.  However, at $7.20 a gallon it adds up.  We only filled up in Spain, where it was still $5.80.  Now maybe you’ll think twice when you complain about $3 a gallon.

Trip

We took one route on the way down and a separate one on the way back.  On the way there we took many toll roads.  I know in Portugal it is much faster to do so when driving to the south because it cuts the time from around 4 hours to a bit over 2.  However, when we got to Spain there were more tolls.  We were on a road called AP-7, but we often saw signs for A-7, so we figured it must go parallel and eventually took it to avoid tolls.  It worked out well because the drive was more scenic with views of the beach and it wasn’t much slower.  On the toll road the average speed was around 130, but on the freeway it was still 100.  I’d recommend looking for routes that can avoid tolls if you aren’t in a rush.

Gibraltar was so small, but it was cool to walk across the runway that crosses the main road.  Seville and Malaga were nice to walk around and eat.  I am not super comfortable driving in bigger cities, but I managed.

Hotels

The first night we used 10,000 IHG points to stay near Gibraltar.  The crazy thing was that we somehow got this many points after a two-night stay.  I recommend always signing up for a rewards account because you never know.  And I should follow my advice because yesterday I stayed a Radisson without getting points and just rented a car from Avis!

The second night we stayed at a property a couple miles outside Seville because Marriott has a promotion for stay twice and get a free night.

Food

Food in Spain was a pretty good deal.  One night we had a really nice dinner for under €25.  We bought some fruit to eat in the car, but pretty much ate out every meal.  Bringing food would be a way to reduce your costs further.

Conclusion

If I did it again, I would reduce the number of miles I had to drive per day as my back got tired from sitting so long.  You’d think using your own car would be cheaper, but putting lots of miles costs money, we did around 1,000 miles, so I don’t think it would have been worth it for $100 savings.  It was nice go to new places and we passed many old castles that would be tough to see without a car.  The shocker was that the three-day trip cost $450.  It was definitely more than I thought.  However, I guarantee that it is cheaper than the one I am on now.  The car rental alone was $500!  Looks like I’m getting out of control, but we shall see.

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