There’s nothing quite like the open road, the fresh air, and beautiful scenery to lift your spirits and give you a break from your routine. Road trips are an excellent opportunity to see more of the world while spending time with family. But they are not exactly cheap to organize. The cost of fuel, accommodation, food and tolls can add up fast. Planning and making some necessary sacrifices, however, can save money on your next road trip to make it more affordable and less stressful. Here are some ideas to help you cut costs the next time you go on an excursion with your family.
Use Apps to find cheap gas
There are a few different apps that can help you find the cheapest gas in your area. Google Maps will show you prices at nearby stations along with a map showing their locations. GasBuddy is another app that will help you find cheap gas. You can use both apps to plan your trip and find the best prices along the way.
Research the best prices on car rentals
Car rental companies have different rates based on location, so you’ll want to research ahead of time to ensure you get a good deal. If you’re renting a car for a large family, you might want to consider booking a van rental instead. This will cut down on costs and increase your convenience significantly.
Travel at off-peak times
If you can, try to plan your road trip during the off-season. If you’re going somewhere warm, try to go in May or September instead of July. This will be less expensive as well as less crowded. Likewise, if you’re going somewhere cold, try to go in the spring or fall. This will keep you from paying more for your trip and might be less risky.
Use Travel Rewards Credit Cards
With a travel rewards credit card, you can earn rewards and discounts that you can use toward travel expenses. Depending on the card, you may even be able to get free hotel nights or free airfares. These cards provide a wide assortment of advantages and incentives that may be used to leverage your spending habits, from complimentary upgrades to first-class seats and airport lounge access to free food.
Stay at affordable hotels
Try to stay at hotels with free breakfasts, if possible. Hotels are expensive, which will help you reduce costs while on the road. You can save money by comparing prices across multiple sites, haggling, and being flexible with the location. Start with sites like Kayak, Expedia or Hotels.com to get an overview of hotels in your desired area.
Eat at cheap restaurants
You can also use apps like Yelp to find cheap and affordable restaurants along your route. You can also try to stop at grocery stores along the way to buy food and snacks to eat in the car or at your hotel. This will save you money and reduce the amount of money you spend at restaurants.
Don’t pay for parking
If you’re visiting a city and want to park your car, you could save money by parking in a residential neighborhood instead of the official city parking garages. You can find cheap parking using apps like SpotHero, which allows you to book parking in advance. This will save you money on short trips and long-term vacations.
Drive a fuel-efficient car
If you drive a gas-guzzling car, you’ll spend a lot of money on fuel during a road trip. If you can, try to drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle or rent a more fuel-efficient car if you’re renting one. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Bring games and activities for the whole family
While driving, try to bring games and activities for the kids. This can help you pass the time quicker and keep everyone from getting bored and fidgety in the car. It will also help you save money by not having to pay for entertainment along the way.
Take public transportation
When you get to your destination, if you can find cheap parking, park your car and take public transportation for sightseeing. You will be saving money on gas and paying higher parking rates near popular sites.