Good friends, good music and good snacks while seeing the sights, what could be better than a road trip? Many people choose road trips for their flexibility and cost effectiveness. However, even though you’re dodging the hefty price of a plane ticket, the expenses on a roadtrip can add up to be tough on the wallet. Luckily, there are ways you can cut down on costs to make sure your trip is high on fun and low on cost.
- Plan, plan, plan: Try to have an outline of what your trip will look like before you hit the road. That road less traveled may seem fun, until you’re way off track and spending a fortune in extra gas. Map out your whole route, so you don’t end up taking any costly detours. Also, book your hotels beforehand to lock down your prices and avoid any price spikes from high demand. The more you try to wing it, the more likely you’ll end up spending big bucks.
- Set a budget: Create a budget for each aspect of your trip. Plan out how much you’re planning to spend on gas, food, lodging and activities. Before you go, make a conscious effort to stay inside that budget during your trip.
- Pack smart: Make sure you triple check you’ve packed everything you’ll need before you head out. Sunglasses, chargers and bathing suits can get pricey when you have to buy them on the road, especially when you already have them back home. Make a list of everything you’ll need so you don’t end up spending your dollars on forgotten items.
- Eat well: Eating out for every meal can seriously add up. Even stopping for those delicious gas station snacks every few hours can eat into your budget. Bring plenty of your own snacks from home to pick at throughout your trip. You can even bring some ingredients for a meal, such as peanut butter and jelly. If you’re going to eat out, many restaurants have lunch specials for a lower cost meal.
- Crash for cheap: You don’t have to spend hundreds on fancy hotels or overbooked motels every night. There are a few options that are easier on the wallet when it comes to lodging. Websites like Airbnb allow you to stay in a local resident’s apartment or spare room for a few nights and often at prices way cheaper than a hotel. Not worried about any accommodations? For totally free, you can sleep on a local’s couch for a night using sites like Couchsurfer and BeWelcome. If all else fails, Walmart allows tired drivers to legally park their vehicles in their parking lots so they can sleep.
- Save gas: There are a few strategies you can use to conserve gas and they can really add up in terms of saving money. Driving with the windows down, especially on the highway, causes your car to work harder and use more gas. So keep those windows shut and use the air vents or, if you must, reach for the A/C. The A/C does make your engine work harder however, using more gas. Try to pack as light as possible to avoid weighing down the car and make sure your wheels are properly inflated to ensure your tank of gas lasts for as many miles as possible.
- Avoid tolls: Road and bridge tolls can really put a dent in your budget and in some states, tolls can reach over 10 dollars. Yikes! Luckily, most smartphone GPS apps offer alternate routes to avoid tolls as much as possible. It may add a few minutes to your trip, but it’s a better option than paying $15 just to go over a major bridge.