Last Updated on March 3, 2023
Road trips are a preferred method of travel for many people. Rather than the restrictions of planes, traveling by car leaves you with complete freedom. You can stop where you want, when you want, and pack as much luggage as you choose when driving to your destination.
Often, the downside of road trips is the cost. From lodging to gas, traveling by car isn’t cheap. These high prices can lead many people to search for ways to cut costs and spend less during their travels.
So how can you save money on your next road trip? Let’s find out.
Save on Lodging at a Campsite
If you don’t own a camper or tent, you may not consider choosing a campsite over a hotel. But, you don’t necessarily need these items to take advantage of the low cost these lodging options offer. Campsites often cost less than half the price of a standard hotel room, and you can even find some for free.
Now, you may be wondering, is it illegal to sleep in your car? While it’s not unlawful to do so, there are a lot of laws in place about where you can sleep inside your vehicle.
Choosing a campsite ensures you aren’t breaking any laws by sleeping in your vehicle. You won’t have to worry about if you’re in the correct location or if you could potentially get in trouble.
Campsites will also have showers and bathrooms available for guests so you can easily clean up before getting back on the road. There is a lot you can get out of choosing a campsite for lodging for such a low rate.
Search for Stops off the Beaten Path
No matter where you’re coming from or driving to, you are bound to pass large cities and tourist hotspots along the way. While these areas may seem tempting to stop in, they can also be a considerable expense.
Everything from gas to food typically costs more in populated areas or those frequented by tourists. Though it may be tempting to stop in these locations, you should avoid them if you’re hoping to save money on your journey.
Rather than pulling off in a popular area, try looking for a location off the beaten path. There are plenty of smaller towns near larger cities with lower prices and fewer crowds. If you’re looking to stop for the night, these areas will still have restaurants and hotels, but you will likely find lower rates.
Stopping away from major cities and tourist attractions is also a great way to save on gas during your trip. Locations in large cities or right off the highway will often have higher prices than gas stations a little more out of the way.
If you need to fill up your tank, try to search for gas stations a few miles away from the highway or outside a city. Though the price difference may not be massive, it can quickly add up when you are filling up your tank multiple times throughout your journey.
Pack Snacks and Drinks for Your Drive
Eating out and purchasing drinks from gas stations can rack up a high bill. It’s typically not easy to cook full meals while on the road, but you can skip eating out for meals like breakfast and lunch by packing your own food.
Simple items like granola bars or sandwiches can easily be stored in the car and eaten when you get hungry. Rather than spending large amounts of money eating out three meals a day, you can cut your costs to one or even two meals.
Considering the cost of a restaurant, this can save you a significant amount of money throughout your trip. While it’s tempting to eat out, especially when traveling, skipping restaurant meals is a great way to cut costs.
No matter where you’re traveling, you should be able to easily find a local grocery store to stock up on food items such as lunch meat, bread, and various breakfast items. Pack up your things and store them in a small cooler until you’re ready to eat.
Avoid Traveling During Peak Season
Although it’s tempting to hit the road in the summer months, you won’t be the only one with the same idea. Countless people choose summer for their vacation season for a variety of reasons. Some prefer the warmer temperatures, and some may have children who can only travel outside the regular school year.
No matter the reasons, summer is by far the most popular season to travel. Popularity means price increases, so traveling during peak season can cost you a lot of money.
If you’re hoping to save on your road trip, skip peak season and travel during the off-season. For many places, this is typically November through March. Depending on their location and average weather, some areas may also extend into April.
Choosing to travel out of peak season can save you a good chunk of change during your trip. Hotels will often have significantly reduced rates, and even ticket prices for activities may be lower.
Not only will you save money on cheaper accommodations in the off-season, but you will also enjoy fewer crowds. You may have more opportunities to enjoy the sights and activities while traveling without feeling crowded and overwhelmed.
Road Tripping Without Breaking the Bank
The freedom of traveling in your car is why many people choose it as their preferred method of travel. Along with that freedom comes the excitement of a road trip. Frequent stops to new places, taking the scenic route, and exploring the unexpected are just a few reasons many people love road trips.
Road trips can get pricey, however. The cost of multiple hotel stays and eating out can quickly add up to a hefty price tag.
If you’re hoping to take a road trip but looking to save money along the way, try any of these tips to cut back on costs. Choose to camp at a campground some nights rather than spending money on hotels, search for locations off the beaten path, pack your own food, and travel during the off-season.
It’s also wise to look into roadside assistance plans, so you won’t be stuck paying entirely out of pocket for any emergency vehicle services that occur.
Doing any or all of these things can help you save tons of money on your next road trip. And, in turn, you can spend more time enjoying the journey.
Author Bio: Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She is an avid road-tripper who enjoys sharing her cost-cutting tips with others.