How to Save Money on a Road Trip
Summertime is synonymous with sunshine, surf, sand – and road trips. Whether you’re planning a beach vacation, camping trip or coast-to-coast drive, a few small tips will help you save big bucks on the road.
- Maximize mileage. Gas prices typically climb in the summer, so make sure your car gets the best mileage possible. Before you hit the road, check your tire pressure to ensure it matches the manufacturer’s recommended PSI, rotate your tires if needed, and remove excess weight from your vehicle. While you’re at it, check the indicators, windshield wipers, brakes and fluids to ensure a safe drive.
- Plan your route. In the era of smart-phone-everything, it’s easy to delay planning until you’re en route to your destination, but it’s best to map out your route ahead of time so you can avoid toll roads, rush-hour traffic and construction areas that will delay your arrival or hike up the cost of your trip.
- Create a budget. While you’re planning your route, create a budget that includes meals, hotels, activities and gas. Build in at least 10 percent extra for unexpected expenses.
- Book a room. It’s smart to figure out where you’re going to spend the night before you set out. You’ll save big bucks by booking a room on a discount travel site – and won’t risk a no-vacancy nightmare. Even better, consider stopping off for the night at a friend’s or relative’s home. It’s an opportunity to visit with loved ones and skip the expense of a hotel.
- Pack a cooler. Buying food on the road is one of the biggest budget busters of a road trip. Pack snacks, sandwiches and beverages and avoid paying top-dollar at convenience stores or sit-down restaurants on the road.
- Save on gas: Use the CheapGas app, or visit gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest gas in your area, but don’t wait until you’re running on empty to fill up your tank or you may risk paying premium prices for gas. You can also set your car to cruise control on long stretches of highway to maintain a consistent speed and conserve gas.
- Plan for emergencies: When you’re packing up your car, be sure to include emergency items like printed maps, blankets, rain gear, flashlights and a first-aid kit. It’s also important to pack extra water and food.