Plan A Road Trip on A Small Budget

Thinking that you’d love to take the family on a road trip this year but worried about the cost?

desert road

When spring rolls around, it makes many of us want to hit the road. However, with the current economic climate, we are often looking for a more affordable way to enjoy the warmer months of the year. If you want to spend time with the family and hit the open road, you need to first learn how you can reduce your travel costs without compromising the trip. Here are 10 valuable tips that you can use to save money while you are enjoying the warm weather:

Say NO To Fast Food (or Better Yet, Bring Food Along) to Save Money

 no fast food

While on the road you might be tempted to stop in at a fast food restaurant. This might be OK for the odd meal, but depending on how many people are travelling, this can cost a pretty penny over the course of your trip.

A great idea is to bring a well insulated cooler, and stock it with items to make sandwiches, like meats and cheeses, as this will really reduce your food the overall food costs. Be sure to be on top of how melted the ice in your cooler is, and replace it as necessary to make sure that the food doesn’t spoil. Packing snacks that are high in protein will help to keep everyone full that much longer .. so items like nuts can be great to pack!


Save Money on a Hotel by Camping


If the weather allows, why not camp? You can turn your road trip into a camping trip and stay one or two nights at campsites along the way. Make sure that you map out your trip and find campsites that are stationed along the way, so you are not spending any extra on fuel costs for an out-of-the-way site. And of course, don’t forget to pack your tent and all of the fixings for s’mores.


Save on Food When You Do Eat Out

Waitress carrying dirty plates in restaurant, rear view

If you want to eat occasionally, (perhaps you’ve been planning it) but that doesn’t mean that you need to eat at a 5-star restaurant each time along your trip. While travelling, you can save money by eating at small local restaurants with a low-price menu. Websites and apps you can access from your phone, like Yelp and TripAdvisor can be a great resource to find exactly how much you’ll spend and what to expect from your experience. Traveling a little further from the highway is generally a good way to save money when you are craving something other than the snacks you’ve packed for the road.

Do Not Buy Everything at the Gas Station

convenience store

Gas stations are very convenient. You’re buying gas, so why not get snacks, drinks, toiletries, and anything else for your road trip? Lots of travelers feel this way, but this is a fast way to pay WAY too much for these items! If you need food, drinks, snacks, hygiene products, or anything else you might have forgotten, drive a little further and pay half as much as you would at a retail or grocery store.


Use Your Smartphones


Your smartphone could actually be one of the biggest money savers on your trip. Now, you can map out your route and your phone will show you the fastest way to get where you are going, and often (in metro areas) the best ways to avoid traffic problems. Knowing how to get where you need to go quickly, you can save money on gas. The GPS feature is not the only reason why the smartphone is a money saver. You can also use apps like GasBuddy and GasPriceWatch and compare current gas prices in your general vicinity.


Book Your Hotel in Advance

hotel sign

At some point you are going to want to lay down in a comfortable bed while on your trip. You are trying to travel on a slim budget, but you still need to be realistic. Instead of telling yourself that you are going to camp and sleep in the car, just book a hotel in advance and you can save money. Advance bookings (even 2 weeks in advance) can often save you more than 15%.

Do your research, and look for websites (like, and that offer travel deals, promotions, and coupons to get that hotel booking on the cheap. Then it doesn’t feel so much like a guilty pleasure.


Check for Coupons


While visiting new places, you’re going to want to spend some time taking local attractions. If you want to visit the fair, an aquarium, the museum, or one of the many other places along the road, why not check to see if there are discounts available online? No point in paying extra when there is a perfectly good 2-for-1 coupon available online. Another great idea is to check for free entertainment that will be available during your travel dates and plan your days around these events.

You can travel an a small budget and have a great time! Make sure your car is ready for the trip and start doing your research in advance. If you use all of the tools to your advantage, you can travel for a fraction of the cost!

Do you have a great tip for saving money while travelling? We’d love for you to share it below in the comments!



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