It could be more cost effective to take a road trip instead of flying, but there are costs involved here as well. Luckily there are some things you could do to save, and that’s what this article is all about — to help you keep your costs under control.
First thing to realize is that saving money on a road trip is not hard; quite the contrary — you just have to know what you’re doing and act accordingly. It may require some additional effort in the beginning, but soon enough — you’ll be doing it almost automatically. And enjoy all the benefits. So without further ado, here are…
8 Ways to Save on Your Road Trip
1. Plan ahead
It all starts with a plan. Set aside a few hours to research the details ahead of your trip so you could better predict the costs (and potential savings). You’ll want to look into the routes and destinations, popular eateries, and other things you want to see/do. Use Google Maps and/or TripIt to put your forthcoming adventure on a map. This will give you a better idea of what you’re up to, and help you manage the entire experience.
2. Save on gas
Even though gas prices aren’t as high as they used to be, if you plan to drive — you will still spend a lot at gas stations. There are two things you could do: 1) use the GasBuddy app to find the most inexpensive fuel on your route; and 2) use a credit card that rewards gas purchases, either with cash back or equally valuable points.
3. Check your vehicle
Get your entire vehicle checked, from tires to engine before hitting the open road. You don’t want surprises involving car failures on your trip — they are not only time consuming, but also cost real money. So do what needs to be done — tune up beforehand.
4. Save on dining out
As you research the route, note the restaurants along the way. Now, try finding coupons and deals for those joints. Also, if those are restaurant chains, chances are they offer gift cards. And if that’s the case, see if you can buy their pre-owned gift cards at sites like Gift Card Granny and Raise. You’ll be surprised what kind of savings you can get at these two services. (Related: 7 Gift Card Hacks to Help You Save Money)
5. Save on activities and attractions
Related to the previous point, you could also save on other stuff. Again, you did the research and planned ahead to learn what’s worth seeing. With that in mind, use Google to find deals for activities and attractions you plan to visit. Look for coupons, happy hours and other ways to save. Read what other people have shared in forums and other places across the internet.
6. Pack wisely
It is up to you to determine the balance between “must carry” and “I can get/buy it along the way” stuff for your road trip. That’s where the mentioned research comes to play — if you learn that, for instance, towels and sunscreen cost a small fortune on your destination, perhaps you want to carry them with you. Also, don’t forget other smaller, yet important, items such as batteries and chargers. Yes, you should come up with a list of things you will bring along.
7. Bring your own snacks
Buying snacks at various pit stops along the way is expensive. If you want to save, you should bring your own snacks on the road. This is not only cheaper, but you’ll also have a bigger variety of products to choose from when buying them before the trip. In addition, you won’t have to stop that often, thus save time for truly interesting landmarks.
8. Tell your bank about the trip
Just image a nightmare scenario in which you can’t access your own money? This could happen if you are travelling to other state or other country without notifying your bank about it. It’s doesn’t have to happen, but it could happen because a bank or a credit card company could tag transactions in other state as fraudulent and put a hold on your account.
While researching for this article, we have also found some other, seemingly nonsensical advice — for instance, we have read a suggestion not to drive too fast to save on gas. As long as it’s legal, we like arriving at our destinations as quickly as possible, even if that costs a little extra.
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