stack of money you can save on a road trip

Top 10 Tips For Saving Money On A Road Trip

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More and more families are opting out of vacations this year. Whether it be RV camping, destination vacations, or epic road trip vacations, Americans just don’t have an abundance of disposable income right now.

I understand. The price of everything is on the rise with no immediate relief in sight, especially gas prices. Don’t worry. This post isn’t about politics. I think there are enough sites on the internet for that already.

No, this article is about ways to save money on your next family adventure.

In this post I want to share with you some extremely useful tips on how you can save a few bucks here and there. Our goal is to show you ways where you can cut some costs, while keeping the fun, and still be able to take your family out, for at least the weekend.

Let’s jump in…

1.    Make A Budget And Stick To It

I get it. Tips like “make a budget” sound so cliché, however, if you have a set amount of money you can comfortably spend, do everything in your power not to spend more.

laptop computer with notepad and glasses
planning and setting a budget are the best ways to save money on a road trip

The first part of making a budget for a road trip is planning and research. Plan your route, then double check it. Ask yourself a few questions.

How far can you travel before you need to refuel?

How many days will you be traveling?

Research things like those must-see attractions and lodging, then add them to the budget. In addition, plan for the unexpected emergency and make sure you include funds for that as well.

2.    Split Costs With Passengers

If you are traveling with your family, there is no way you can split the costs of a road trip with your kids. Well, unless you have them chip in their allowance for gas money.

What I mean is if you are traveling with a group of friends, split the daily costs of fuel, lodging, etc. to help ease the strain on your wallet, and theirs.

3.    Look For Deals

During the peak travel times of the year, many resorts, attractions, and other places will offer deals for travelers. These discounts and deals are a fantastic way to save money on your road trip.

Travel websites like Expedia or Travelocity offer deals on hotels, car rentals, and more.

If your road trip includes traveling in an RV, you can find tons of free overnight parking and discounted campgrounds with sites like The Dyrt and Campendium.

4.    Save Money By Car Camping

One of the best ways to save money on a road trip is to simply camp in your car for the night. If car camping doesn’t suit your fancy, try a cabin at a State park. Texas State Parks offer discounted rates for the second night of camping when you have a Texas State Parks Pass.

car camping to save money on a road trip
car camping is a great way to save money on a road trip

Staying with friends and family on your road trip is another terrific way to save money. Of course, this tip only works if your route takes you near their home. And if you can put up with Uncle Bob for a night or two.

5.    Take Snacks From Home

You might not think it’s a big deal to grab a snack and a drink every time you stop at Buc-ee’s travel center for a restroom break or fuel. But those couple of bucks here and there can easily break your road trip budget.

Instead, buy your favorite snacks beforehand and take them with you. Pack a small cooler with sandwiches as well. You can always stop at a rest stop or roadside picnic area to eat lunch.

enjoy a roadside picnic

Skip that expensive drive-thru coffee, too. If you must have coffee on your road trip, fill up a stainless-steel thermos before you leave home or the hotel, or invest in a portable coffee press and make it on the go.

There are going to be times that you just want to splurge and eat out. After all, you’re on vacation, right? One small money saving tip to remember, breakfast and lunch are typically much less expensive than dinner.

Why? Because lunch and breakfast portions are smaller versus dinner portions. In addition, restaurants will add soup/salad and sometimes rolls to the dinner meal and charge a significantly higher price, on average.

6.    Keep It Local

Kellie and I try to take a short road trip once or twice a month. We don’t go far. We found that there are so many things to see and do that are quite literally one or two towns over.

Dorado's Dive Club
keep it local

We load ourselves up in the morning and make a day trip out of it. We save money by getting back home by the end of the day, eating once (usually lunch), and not driving too far.

A road trip doesn’t mean you have to travel one of the longest roads in the U.S. Although that would be an epic trip. You can save tons of money on a road trip and stay in your neighboring communities.

7.    Look For Free Things To Do

Yes. There are several things you can do for free. For instance, Galveston, Texas has the ferry, Fort Travis, and tons of other things you can do that are 100% free. There is no better way to save money on a road trip than finding things for free.

Galveston Ferry Service
The Galveston Ferry is free to ride

Think outside the box, get creative.

Hiking is another free activity you can enjoy on your road trip, and you can get some fresh air and exercise while you’re doing it.

8.    Don’t Drive Like An A$$hole

Maintaining a decent speed and not driving aggressively will save you money on your road trip. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t be the guy that has to race past a slower moving vehicle, showing the other driver they are #1 as you pass.

speeding will not save money on a road trip
maintain a reasonable speed to save money on a road trip

Maintaining a speed around 55 to 60 MPH will increase you gas mileage, and in turn, save you money. If you vehicle is equipped with cruise control, set it, and enjoy the ride.

9.    Get Your Vehicle Serviced

Before you head out on a road trip, take your vehicle in for service. Have the oil changed, tires rotated, and most importantly, make sure your tires are inflated to the proper PSI. Over, as well as under inflated tires will not only negatively affect your gas mileage, but they can also cause a blowout.

tire sidewall
properly inflated tires can help save money on a road trip

If you happened to save some money on your road trip, a tire blowout will “blowout” your budget, and then some.

10. Find Lower Gas Prices With An App

Using apps like GasBuddy can help save money on your road trip. If you plan ahead and know where you will be refueling, you can check for the cheapest gas prices in that area before you get there.

Another money saving tip for gas is to fil up on Interstates and highways if possible. These busy roadways will typically have less expensive gas prices than a small town on a back country road.

In Conclusion

Family vacations are especially important for making memories. Our goal with this post is to share a few tips we use to save money when we want to take a road trip or any other weekend getaway. I believe that the situations as we see them now are only temporary.

Don’t cancel your family outings this year. Make some adjustments to save some cash, create an epic road trip playlist, and get out there.

What are your thoughts on how to save money on a road trip? Do you have any tips to add? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

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