Road trips are fun, which is one of the many reasons they are considered by those looking to travel. A road trip can be an exciting means to experience the world. You can simply jump into a vehicle and get transported from one location to another, getting intimately familiar with the scenery.
One important aspect of a road trip is that it can also be quite budget-friendly. A road trip is relatively cheap, especially when considered against the two options of air and sea travel. As already mentioned, with a good vehicle and some money in your bank account, you can drive around the country and back without paying much more.
However, it may interest you to know that there are even more ways you can save money on a road trip. If you’re looking to take a road trip on a budget, there are some money-saving tips you can implement. That’s where we come in, we’ve done the research for you! In this guide, we’ll share how to save money on a road trip so you can hit the road while keeping your pockets loaded!
How to Save Money on a Road Trip
While some may choose to take a plane ride or go by boat, a road trip is the best way to travel far while spending less. So, let’s get straight to the tips you can use while taking road trips to save big on vacation. These money-saving tips are general, which means that they will work whether you are in the United States, Canada, or someplace else. Furthermore, the type of vehicle you use may not necessarily be important when it comes down to it. So, how do you save money on a road trip? Let’s get to it!
Plan Ahead of Time
Saving money while on a trip is not something that happens as a matter of course. You will have to be deliberate about cutting costs as much as possible. Hence, the first step here is to plan ahead of time. Road trippers often embark on trips on the spur of the moment. However, except you are a regular road traveler and have become conversant with saving, you will hemorrhage money if you follow this route.
Before embarking on a road trip adventure, you need to do your research. Find out the best possible locations or routes to follow. Your intended route should be fuel-friendly and not just any that strikes your fascination. Furthermore, create a packing list. There, itemize all that you believe you’ll be needing. The list should include drinking water, your debit card, etc. Consider the nature of the road you plan to take. This is an important tip for saving money on gas. Also, it will inform you if there is a rest stop along the way and what to do when you encounter any of such, especially the paid ones.
You may also want to consider researching before starting out. Check out those who have taken a road trip before and reach out to them for tips. At every point, you should be thinking along the lines of saving money.
Create a Road Trip Budget
After planning ahead and carrying out your research, the next thing to do is create a budget. There is hardly any way you can save money on a road trip without creating a budget. This is because a road trip budget lets you know the important things and those that are not.
You create a hierarchy of needs, developing the ability to eliminate anything that is not essential. For instance, it will be important to spend money on food and gas. Thus, you need to factor in your car’s gas mileage and the gas prices generally available in the market.
Your budget should also consider the sort of road trip you are taking. This is because you can save money if you avoid taking road trips when everyone plans to do the same, such as during the summer when everyone will be taking a summer vacation.
While it is indispensable that you have a budget if you are looking to save money on your road trip, it is necessary to be flexible. This is in acknowledgment of the fact that some unforeseen situations can arise along the way. Thus, while planning your trip on a budget, put aside some money for miscellaneous expenses. If you are going with cash, you may want to have your credit card handy in case of an emergency.
You can always simply write a budget using pen and paper. Alternatively, though, there are quite a few budgeting and personal finance tools and apps out there that can also help you organize your finances such as YNAB and Every Dollar.
Save Money on Fuel
One of the ways to save money on a road trip is to manage your fuel well. There are several road trip tips to employ in this area. The first is to check out your car before setting out. Eliminate everything that gulps down the gas for your car. Car trouble could affect how much fuel you spend. Taking your car to an auto shop could save you further complications later. Furthermore, if your car breaks down and you have to pay parking fees, this adds to the money you have to pay. If you are moving across states, you would have to pack a lot. This could up the amount of gas your vehicle will consume. You should eliminate as much extra luggage as possible.
As already mentioned, you should identify your road trip route ahead of time. Even if there is no credible source you can reach out to, GPS systems are useful in this regard. Bear in mind that fuel efficiency decreases if your route includes steep inclines or hills. This will force you to make stops at a gas station frequently.
You can also save money on gas by using cruise control, limiting air conditioners in your car, and using gift cards at gas stations. Generally, you cannot totally eliminate buying gas. However, you can limit how much you have to spend on that.
This should not be a problem if your road trip routes are mainly in rural areas. However, if your route is not, then one of the road trip tips you should consider before you head out is identifying the tolls you’ll have to pay and making adequate arrangements on how to pay them.
Find Car Alternatives
One of the things road trippers have to consider is the cost of using their vehicles. Indeed, your car can be the major source of expenses for you. Thus, if you are traveling cross country, you should consider renting or driving someone else’s car. This is especially of your car, for some reason, is unsuited for such trips. For instance, some cars are not nice for driving on the open road. In any such situation, you can simply borrow someone else’s car for your trip or rent with a service like Turo or HyreCar. While it may not seem like it, it could actually cut down costs.
Take Advantage of Gas Station Discounts
Reputable gas companies have gas discount cards. Typically, they are to encourage and incentivize customers to patronize their brands. When you have such gas discount cards, you can use them at any of the brand’s gas stations. Thus, apart from getting discounts at gas stations when traveling, you also get discounts at home. It is a win-win on both ends.
Consider Going to Low-Cost Sceneries
If sightseeing is part of your road trip, you can save money on that also. In this case, also, you should check out such places ahead of time. Compare the costs of each location and go with the cheapest.
One of the other ways of making sure you stick to keep your road trip on a budget is by getting a national parks pass. The national parks pass goes for less than $100 in the United States. It lasts for a year and grants you access to national parks in the country. Senior citizens and disabled people have free passes. Furthermore, it is straightforward to register and obtain one of such. You need to register with your email address and other details required of you.
Get Cheap Accommodation Options
You may have to stop over somewhere to spend the night while on a road trip. This could be either because of an emergency, such as if the gas in your gas tank gets exhausted. It could also be part of your plan, such as where you are going camping. In any of the above scenarios, it would be important to find cheap accommodation options. The first option that comes to mind usually is hotels.
A hotel room gives you the privacy and luxury you need. Hence, if you can afford to, just pay for a hotel room to spend the night(s). While at it, you may want to consider hotels that give discounts to users. You can take a look at each hotel’s website to confirm their discount options. Furthermore, you could simply ask an insider how each hotel process works. This is one of the easiest ways to save money while on a road trip because the insider will be in the best position to let you know discounts, promo options, etc.
However, a cheaper option is to explore camping. Camping sites are typically free of charge. You can find any such location, park your vehicle there and create somewhere to sleep. If you do not know anything about camping, there are camping apps that direct you on what you need to do. They also point out perfect camping locations within your route.
Save Money on Food
You cannot have a successful budget road trip if you do not save on food. Unfortunately, food is one of those essential things you have to always factor in while taking any trip. However, the idea is to limit how much you spend on food in the cities you travel to. Thus, as stated earlier, you must plan for this contingency.
Limit how you purchase fast food along your route. Consider all the cities you have to go through and identify the places you can buy food along the routes. Also, to avoid buying fast food, you can prepare snacks even before you head out. The benefit of this is that you can also control how healthy your snacks will be. Trail mix and fruits are some of the healthy snacks you could indulge in as you move around the cities.
In any case, to save money on your road trip, do your best to reduce how much you get to spend on food.
Conclusion: Saving Money on a Road Trip
There is nothing wrong with looking to save money on a road trip. Thus, if you are thinking along those lines, you are on the right path. Road trips are fun. However, they become a lot less entertaining if you get to spend a lot of money on the road.
It might not be a big deal to you at that time, but the repercussions of your actions will eventually catch up with you. Thus, follow the road trip tips and suggestions above to make sure you have a budget road trip.