How To Enjoy A Cheaper Road Trip

One of the fun things about the summer, in my opinion, is the road trip. I’ve already been on one this travel season, and I’m excited for further road trips. Most of the time, my road trips are relatively short, ranging from three days to a week. Road trips can be a great way to spend time with family, and even enjoy a fairly inexpensive vacation.

If you want to have a cheaper road trip, though, it helps to plan ahead.

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Tips For A Cheaper Road Trip

cheaper road trip

Here are some tips for creating a cheaper road trip that everyone in your family can enjoy:

  • Map your route: The first step is to map your route. You don’t have to have everything perfectly timed (that takes some of the spontaneity out of the journey), but you should have a general idea of where you want to go, and which days you should arrive. Plus, mapping it out can help you find the best hotel deals, as well as the cheapest gas prices.
  • Car maintenance: Before you head out, check your car. Make sure that everything is in good order. Breaking down in the middle of a road trip is an expensive proposition. A little expense now can save you big later.
  • Be smart about food: One of the things I remember from my childhood is the big cooler. My parents brought a big cooler packed with drinks (including milk and juice), deli meat, condiments, and other items. We made our own sandwiches, and had access to other food. A smaller cool, and a bag with other items, was available as well. Bring your own food, and you’ll spend much less. When you do need to replenish your supplies, head a little farther into town and visit the local grocery store.
  • Use your rewards: Maximize your road trip with the help of a rewards program. You can save up money for a road trip, but then use credit cards. Earn the rewards, pay off the balance when you get back, and be ready for the next trip. You can also sign up for hotel rewards and earn free stays. If you already have free stays, use them during your road trip to reduce costs.
  • Look ahead for discounts and promotions: Find out if there are discounts and promotions in the area. Look online for coupons on food, attractions, and lodging. It’s a great way to cut down on costs. Groupon, LivingSocial, and can all provide you with discounts to use during your road trip.
  • Choose souvenirs carefully: Rather than load up with expensive souvenirs that clutter the house, choose carefully. We buy a magnet or two, and postcards. These items don’t take up much room, and they are inexpensive. We save money on those items, and can spend on the things that are more important to us.

A road trip can be a fun way to go on vacation. If you are careful about what you spend your money on, and if you plan ahead, it should be possible to enjoy an inexpensive vacation that helps you create plenty of good memories.

What are your tips for taking a cheaper road trip?

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Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger. She writes for a number of personal finance blogs, including Planting Money Seeds. She has a M.A. in journalism, and is the author of Confessions of a Professional Blogger. Miranda lives Utah, where she enjoys spending her free time reading, traveling and playing with her son and husband.

Last Edited: 26th June 2012


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  1. says

    I travel a lot – was away from home 20 nights during the month of June – and my employer covers my hotel and meals, but I can still end up spending a lot of personal money on incidentals like snacks, water, etc. I’ve learned that if I plan ahead I can save money. I buy a gallon of water instead of a bunch of individual water bottles. The gallon is often about the same price as a single bottle of water! And I buy the snacks I like in bulk (like from Costco or Sam’s Club) and bring what I’ll need on each trip, instead of buying snacks on the road.

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