Road Trips on a Budget: How to Make It Work

car driving on an open highway

It is normal for people to want to see the world. But even if you can’t afford a global tour now, you can go on a road trip to and from the other side of the coast. Yet, even road trips are not cheap. You have to pay for gas, food, and accommodation. Is there a way to afford a road trip without breaking the bank? Can you go on a road trip for less than $500, for example?

Figure Out Your Priorities

Do you want to stay in a fancy hotel? Is it okay for you to sleep in the car or a roadside motel, perhaps? How about food? Can you pre-pack your meals, or do you like to have them in diners during your stopovers? Knowing what your priorities are when you travel will help you determine how much you need with you. Without priorities, you might find yourself without a dollar for food or using your credit card to pay for gas.

Road-ready Your Car

Are you going to rent a car or will you bring your own? Renting a car, of course, is more expensive. If you are already planning to buy a car, then look into some buy here, pay here lots where you can buy secondhand cars in a jiffy. Most of these lenders do not even check your credit score and do not ask for a copy of your credit report. They’re so easy to deal with, so all you have to do is sign the papers, and your car is ready. Make sure to buy a car in good condition for your road trip.

Though you cannot avoid fuel prices, you can save on gas consumption by taking good care of your car. Properly inflated tires will help with gas consumption. Light cargo is also a must to keep fuel consumption low.

Pack Some Snacks

You can go to the diner for your main meals. Get a hamburger and fries for dinner; why not? But for the in-between snacks, you may want to pack some snacks, so you don’t have to go thru every convenience store you pass by. If you’re going to spend $5 every time you go to a bodega, you’re going to waste at least $20 for a four-day trip.

Find Free Entertainment

There are free attractions everywhere. Museums, public parks, and landmarks, you name it. Take advantage of these free tours and attractions, so you will save a lot of money that would have otherwise gone to expensive admission fees. Since you’re on a road trip already, you might as well learn something from the cities that you visit.

person driving towards a mountain

Use Credit Card Rewards

Check your credit card points. You might already be eligible to cash in on your rewards. Those points can pay for food, accommodation, and gas. Some credit cards are made exactly for travel wherein you will get a rebate every time you spend on gas, convenience store food, etc.

Do Not Travel During Peak Times

Long holiday weekends and spring breaks are the worst times to go on a road trip. Not only is the traffic worse and can put so much pressure on your already-depleted gas savings, but amenities like food and hotel are expensive, too. It is best to travel during off-peak seasons.

Take Advantage of Free Meals

Are you checking in at a hotel? Ask if there’s free breakfast? That will save about $10, too. Some hotels will only charge a couple of dollars more for a breakfast buffet. You may want to eat closer to lunchtime so you can save on two meals.

Choose Gas Stations Wisely

If you need to gas up, make sure to do it when you’re closer to your destination or in-town already. Gas stations just off the interstate are considerably more expensive than those you can find in the city or town. They know that it will take miles before you can find another gas station, so they usually add a few cents to the cost of fuel per gallon.

Pick a Good Auto Insurance

No matter how much you take care of your car, the truth is that many of them break down in the most unfortunate of places and time. Your auto insurance should be able to handle fixing the car and taking it back to your place while you continue with your trip. Good auto insurance may also provide you discounts on a car rental.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to go on a road trip. As long as you keep your budget in mind, you should be fine. You should also get ready with some extra expenses, so make sure you have an emergency fund hidden somewhere in your car (but forget about it when you want to spend on a nice souvenir you know you cannot afford).

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