Going on roads trips is a lot of fun. You drive around, enjoy the scenery and you get to meet great people from different social backgrounds. You also learn many new things because a road trip is a great form of education in its own right. The only hitch is that a road trip costs money. However, you can save money on road trips if you follow the tips below.
1. Pack your own food
One of the best things about going on road trip is that you eat out and enjoy the local cuisine. Unfortunately, eating out costs money and you don’t want to go above your budget. You can cut cost by simply packing your own food. Load up on groceries, provisions and drinks before you hit the road. You should also pack frozen water and frozen milk. This saves you the trouble of having to cool your water and drinks. In fact, your frozen milk and water make very refreshing drinks as they thaw.
2. Load up on snacks
It pays to bring your own snacks so that you won’t be tempted to buy exotic snacks as you travel. Get a variety of snacks like pretzels, cookies and crackers. You can also make your own peanut butter sandwiches, pancakes, rolls and cakes. This way, you’ll have an excuse not to buy them on the road. Again, you can try dividing these snacks ahead of time. This move guarantees that you eat sensibly and helps you save money.
3. Shop sensibly
It’s not likely that your supplies will last you the duration of the road trip so you have to reload when your supplies run low. The trick here is to shop sensibly. Buy your drinks, food, snacks and other essential commodities from a grocery store. Avoid fast food joints because these outfits sell exotic products at “exotic prices”. If there are farms on your route, you should buy your fruits and vegetables directly from the farmer. In fact, it makes sense to buy these products by the dozen because you save money this way. In case you have to eat out, you should seek out local restaurants where you can be sure of huge portions and second helpings. This is a smart way to eat to your satisfaction without spending too much money.
4. Save money on gas
You can’t save money on road trips if you don’t factor in the cost of gas. The last thing you want is your gas tank guzzling a huge chunk of your road trip budget. Instead, download the app, Gas Buddy, and you will find the cheapest sources of gas in your area. (Also works in Canada!) Sometimes, the difference between the cheapest and most expensive gas can be as high as 10 cents per gallon. Now, do the math and you will discover that the difference is substantial. You should also use gas reward facilities when you can. In fact, you should apply for gas reward cards before you hit the road. That way, you are sure to save plenty of cash when you fill up your tank.
5. Check out the vehicle
The most essential equipment for your road trip is your vehicle. Get the car you are using checked out by a competent mechanic before you hit the road. Ensure that the lights and indicators are working perfectly. You should also check out vital indicators of your vehicle’s health. These things include your hydraulic, gearbox oil, (if your car is not automatic) and tire pressure. In addition, you should check water in the radiator, your battery and other electrical components. Do not embark on a road trip if your mechanic has not given the vehicle a clean bill of health. If you haven’t already, add this life hack to your road trip planning checklist. Your plan is to drive around and enjoy the experience. It is not on your agenda to waste time and money on emergency vehicle repair while you are on the road. In addition, you should drive safely and avoid accidents. This simply comes down to obeying road signs and observing speed limits. You should also avoid tollgates so that you do not spend more money than is necessary on the trip.
6. Save money on accommodation
A road trip is not the time to splurge on fancy hotels. Think of cheap and pragmatic ways to get accommodation and you will save big money. Your best bet is to stay in a hostel if you can find a good one along your route. Hostels are fun and practically free. You get to meet colorful people and make new friends if you sleep in one.
Have you tried Airbnb? While there is fancy, expensive places to stay, you can also find dirt cheap accommodations with fun amenities. I’ve used Airbnb several times and found some great accommodations in and near the Los Angeles area that are a really great deal. If you’re new to Airbnb, you can get a $40 credit your first trip through my link.
Camping is also an excellent idea because you don’t spend a dime if you take this option. As long as you have a tent or two, you can always find the perfect spot to spend the night. You also need blankets, sleeping bags and beddings if you want to embrace the camping option. If the weather is right, camping is a very smart idea. It is free, you enjoy the great outdoors and you are in touch with Mother Nature.
If you have friends, colleagues and distant relations in many cities, this is the time to make those connections work for you. Call these people in advance and tell them all about your road trip. They will be happy to give you free accommodation and this will add spice and color to your road trip. In the unlikely event that you don’t like any of the accommodation arrangements above, you can search for cheap hotels along your route. Find the right hotel and you will spend very little on accommodation.
7. Walk when you can
A road trip involves a lot of driving around but this doesn’t mean you’re addicted to your vehicle. Park the car sometimes and walk around as often as you can. This is a great way to explore the cities you are visiting. It is also an excellent form of exercise too. You can walk to the green grocer’s to load up on supplies. You can walk to the park and you can walk to the museum. You can also walk to the library, to the beach and to the farmer’s market. Walking gives your car a break and this saves you money. In addition, you meet people when you walk and you enjoy the great outdoors.
8. Get free entertainment
Entertainment is a huge part of your road trip experience but you don’t have to spend much money on this. Find cheap or free options and you will save good money. You can start the process by creating your own entertainment. Pack a few balls, a Frisbee or a badminton set. You should also pack any other athletic gear that you can use conveniently on your road trip. It also helps if you have a chess set, a scrabble set or any other table game. With these things, you can provide your own entertainment without spending a dime. You can also visit museums, parks, libraries or art galleries along your route. If you are driving during the summer, you will definitely find free art shows, concerts, festivals and carnivals. Take advantage of these entertainment options and you will spend little or nothing.
9. Travel at the right time
One of the best things about a road trip is that you can hit the road anytime you like. Remember that tourism is pretty much a matter of demand and supply. During the tourism season, prices generally head north and you end up spending much more if you travel at this time. On the other hand, prices are generally low during the “off peak” season. Schedule your trip at the most financially convenient time and you will save plenty of cash on rent, food, gas and entertainment.
10. Have a budget and stick to it
The best way to ensure that you save money on your road trip is to have a budget and stick to it judiciously. Write out a long list of all the things you need for the road trip and how much each item will cost. Edit your list and get rid of things you do not need. Work on this list until the only items left are the ones that are vital to your trip. By now, you have a great plan for the road trip but you can fine-tune this plan some more. Write out the total cost of the trip (to the nearest dollar). In addition, you should have a daily and weekly budget. Do not spend any money that is not on your budget. You should also set aside some money in case you have to deal with an emergency. Try to spend less than the cash you have allotted for your daily expenses and avoid impulse buying. It takes discipline to do this but the rewards will be worth it at the end of the day.
Finally, keep a record of all your expenses every day and make sure you are within your budget at the end of each day. Discipline yourself, spend wisely and your road trip will be a huge success.