5 Money-Saving Road Trip Travel Tips

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The road trip is a tried-and-true American tradition. It’s a way of seeing a country that you never have before. One thing that’s so marvelous about America is all the hole-in-the-wall roadside attractions. Some of them you might know about and plan to see, while others spring up like magic and demand a couple of hours of your time.

If you’re going on a road trip over the coming months, you might not have a ton of money to spend. You may want to think about some money-saving tips that can reduce the trip’s overall cost. What follows are some of our best penny-pinching traveler suggestions.

Girl travels by car
Girl travels by car

Pack Carefully

Whether you’re looking for Georgia road trip hidden gems or trying to find the best biscuits in the Carolinas, you always want to pack wisely to save money. For instance, you might bring along some towels and sunblock if you know you’re going to spend some time on the beach. Bringing these items will be cheaper than if you have to pay for them onsite. You can bring along a smartphone charger, so you don’t need to buy that, either. It’s smart to take along a flashlight and some spare batteries if you know you’re going camping. You might consider bringing along a tent and a sleeping bag if you don’t mind roughing it. You can save some hotel room money if you’re okay with sleeping outdoors for part of the way.

Bring Snacks or Meals

You might need to bring along money for road trip snacks, but you can avoid that if you bring your own options from home. There’s no need to spend your cash at every gas station on chips, candy, or beef jerky if you bring some trail mix you made before you left. You might bring some sandwiches along on a cooler. They will be okay for a day or so, and you won’t need to stop and spend money at fast-food restaurants or diners. You can also look for coupons before you leave. In some states, coupons for fast food places like KFC or Burger King come in the mail. You can even find them and print them out from certain websites.

Have a Mechanic Tune Your Car Up

You might have an older vehicle, and if so, it’s always smart to get a tune-up before you take a long road trip. A mechanic can check to see if you need any air in your tires and fill them up accordingly. They can check all your fluid levels, look at your suspension and alignment, and check for any other possible problems. You definitely don’t want a roadside breakdown, or you’ll have to find the nearest mechanic. You will pretty much be at their mercy, and they might try to gouge you on replacement parts.

Save as Much on Gas as You Can

If you own an electric car, you’ll have to find places where you can recharge it along your route. There are more charging stations in some parts of the country than others, but there are smartphone apps you can use to locate them. Few people have electric cars yet, though. Assuming you have a gas-burning vehicle, you can download a phone app that shows you where the cheapest gas is around you. There’s one called CheapGas that locates the best deal nearby. If you’re filling up the whole tank, or close to it, those money-saving apps make a difference. If you have a hybrid car, that will also save you money on long road trips.

Plan Ahead

You can save cash by planning out your route ahead of time. If you know what states you’ll go through and where your eventual destination is, you can figure out what you want to see along the way. You might pre-book hotel rooms along the route on the nights when you’re not camping. That can save you from any issues if you’re in the busy season’s height, and there are few vacancies. You can plan a trip around famous eateries, popular roadside destinations, or whatever else most attracts you. The more plan details you fill in beforehand, the more structure your journey will have. Of course, you can also take a trip with fewer details planned out beforehand. That might cost you a little more money, but some people enjoy the spontaneity. You’ll have to consider whether you have the time to deviate from your planned route if you spot something that begs investigation.

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Susan Melony

Susan is an avid writer, traveler, and overall enthusiast

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