Road trips are undoubtedly a lot of fun. Its memories last a lifetime and you can explore a place at your own pace. There are no rules to follow and you can plan the trip the way you want. Road trips allow you to explore remote and off-beat places that might not be possible by a train or plane journey.
One misconception about road trips is that they are quite expensive, especially long road trips. However, it isn’t necessarily true. With proper planning and smart hacks, you can enjoy a road trip that doesn’t break your bank. Frugal road-trips are possible and, in fact, they are here to stay. Let’s look at some money-saving tips for a fun and memorable road trip.
10 Money-Saving Tips to Make Your Road Trip Even Better
1. Plan Ahead and Set a Budget
The very first thing you need to do is plan the route of your road trip in advance. This will ensure you don’t drive around aimlessly or backtrack a wrong route, both of which will be costly in the long run.
Determine the distance of the trip, the time it might take and where the stops would be.
Next, set a budget for the road trip and stick to it. It will prevent you from overspending and help you stay on track. Be aware of the expected costs and think of ways you can cut them down. If you project your expenses beforehand of how much money you will spend on each leg of the trip, you will be more confident about managing the expenses.
2. Carry Snacks from Home
One expense that quickly adds up without you realising is buying snacks for the road. It is normal to want to munch on something on a road trip, but don’t buy something at every stop. It is better to pack snacks from home that will keep you full on the road.
Choose snacks and munchies that stay well in different weather conditions. These include crackers, trail mix, fruits, nuts or energy bars.
3. Avoid Bottled Beverages
Carry your own reusable water bottles that you can fill at different places. Bottled water is a major expense and it will add up quicker than you realise. Refill the bottle at restaurants or at your hotel before you leave.
Avoid bottled beverages like sodas too. If you buy one at every rest stop, it’ll burn a major hole in your pocket before you even realise it.
4. Book Affordable Accommodation
Look for affordable options like local accommodation and inns over expensive hotels. Book in advance as hotels generally list rooms for cheaper prices well ahead of time. Compare the hotel prices on different comparison sites and choose the best deal. You can even go to the hotel’s website directly as they may have some special discounts or deals.
Another option is to check if anyone you know stays in the places you are visiting. Crashing at your friends’ or relatives’ place will eliminate the accommodation expense altogether in that particular city.
You can also use websites like Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Airbnb offers affordable yet unique local accommodation options for a great value. Couchsurfing is a great platform where you can connect with travellers who are willing to let you crash for free on their couch.
5. Improve Fuel Efficiency
While road trips are a lot of fun, there may be times when you want to speed up to reach the destination faster. However, fight the urge to speed. Why? Because it will affect your fuel efficiency.
Studies have shown that fuel efficiency decreases as speed increases. That means fuel consumption would be more and you would have to fuel up more often. This would make your road trip pricey. Drive at a steady speed throughout the trip and stick to speed limits.
Another thing that uses a lot of fuel is rapid acceleration and braking. Start the trip early in the morning as the roads would be empty and you wouldn’t have to accelerate and brake often due to traffic.
And finally, air conditioning also uses a significant amount of fuel. Wherever possible, turn off the air conditioning and roll down those windows. If you don’t need the AC, don’t use it.
6. Pack Light
Does the way you pack and load your car affect the car’s mileage? Well, it does. Extra weight will impact your car’s mileage at the rate of 2% per 45 kgs. That means the more weight you carry, the more money you will eventually spend on the fuel due to poor mileage.
Don’t overpack and load the car with excess bags. If you think you may not need something during the trip, leave it out.
7. Pack Wisely
Forgot your charger at home? Left the sunscreen and medicines right on the table? Well, then you will inevitably have to buy them on the road. Spending on something that you already have at home is an unnecessary expense that you can avoid.
Make sure you keep all the chargers, batteries and other tech gadgets that you need for the trip. Carry essentials like napkins, beach towels, sunscreens and medicines without fail so that you don’t have to buy them on the road.
8. Fill Up Your Tank When You Find Cheap Fuel
Did you come across a petrol pump that has cheaper fuel than normal? Well, in that case, fill up your tank. Different states and cities have different fuel prices, so do some research beforehand.
Find out where the fuel prices are cheaper and try to fill up your tank there rather than other petrol pumps on the way.
9. Avoid Toll Roads
Technology makes travel much easier and allows you to cut down costs in unexpected ways. For instance, you can use GPS apps like Google Maps to choose different routes for your destination. When you have that advantage, choose the roads that don’t have any tolls.
You might have to take a longer route in certain cases but it could turn out to be more scenic. You can avoid high toll charges and reach the destination with some extra money in your pocket.
10. Visit an Auto Shop
Before you start the road trip, take your car to an auto shop. Assess the condition of your car and make sure it is in proper working condition. If your car isn’t in good shape, it would ruin the entire road trip.
Ask the auto shop to do a complete tune-up of the vehicle. Get an oil change, check the tire pressure, change the windshield wipers, check the brake fluid, antifreeze and power steering fluid. Doing this will ensure you have minimal to no breakdown on your trip. Sudden breakdown or repairs will set you back financially.
However, be prepared for a breakdown. Carry a spare tire and jack in the truck that will help you change a punctured tire with ease. Keep an emergency repair kit in the car.
Lastly, keep all the necessary documents in the car. Forgetting even one document like your license or insurance will result in hefty fines. This is another expense that you can easily avoid. Make sure you have all the documents in place before you leave the door.
Plan the Best Ever Road Trip
It’s the small things that you may overlook that end up being expensive on road trips. Take out your pen and paper to list out expenses that you can cut down. Map the route and try to stick to it. If you are planning to go to offbeat destinations, make sure you book accommodation beforehand. You don’t want to get lost or find yourself stranded without accommodation after reaching there.
Proper planning and smart driving will help you save money. All you need to do now is gather your friends, start that road trip and make a ton of memories.