How To Save Money On A Road Trip

By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor
Road trips are a great way to see new sights while on the way to your destination. They also happen to be much cheaper than some other forms of travel. By opting to drive you’ve already started off on the right foot, now all you have to do is watch your spending while on the road.
 
We’re going to assume that saving money on your road trip doesn’t mean you’ll resort to sleeping in your car – so we’ll scratch that tip off the list along with a few others that are more suited for those still into beer pong and couch surfing. Instead, we at DriverSide are focusing on more practical ways to save you money while on the road without you having to sacrifice comfort and safety. 

 
Give Your Car a Clean Bill of Health
Nothing hurts more than the bill of an emergency car repair. It’s like mechanics can smell desperation. So save yourself stress and money by getting your car ready for the road before taking off. Things like an oil change and fluids top up are high priority. It also helps to check your brakes, rotate your tires and make sure your windshield wipers are working. Even if it doesn’t rain, staring at splattered bug remains for 15 hours won’t make anyone happy. 

 
Conserve Gas and Buy It Cheap
Gas mileage can account for a big portion of your road trip budget if you’re not careful. Do yourself a favor and learn how to reduce fuel consumption. Quick tricks like turning off the A/C and 4WD will save you mpgs, and so will keeping the tires at their max psi. Research cheap gas along your route before you leave. If you have an iPhone, you can use the gas station finders to locate the best prices in the area while you’re on the road. 
 
 
Plan Outdoor Activities

As tourists, we tend to get sucked into activities which cost money. Fun can be free! It starts simply as enjoying the outdoors. Even if you’re in the heart of New York City, there’s always Central Park to explore. Hop on the computer before your trip and look up free events going on at your destination, or check out local coffee shops for postings. Summertime always has a supply of free concerts in the park, festivals and street fairs. 
 
 
Cut Down on Food Costs
Convenience stores may look like they have budget deals on snack foods but you’re definitely better off grabbing larger and more economical munchies at supermarkets. Even their readymade food can be cheaper than a restaurants’. Consider packing a camping stove and some utensils as well; there’s nothing like a warm meal after hours crammed in a car. Bringing along a cooler that can hold the amount of food you’ll need during the journey is vital too, unless you like lukewarm soda and salmonella-tainted meat.
 
 
Rent an RV
OK, OK, so we said no sleeping in the car. But this is different! Renting an RV, despite the higher cost over taking your own car, can save you from paying steep hotel rates – especially in popular tourist destinations. Obviously certain family dynamics restrict your options, but an RV gives you the freedom to change your plans at the last minute and won’t keep you tied down to one itinerary. If you want to go more rugged, camping is another budget-friendly option. 
 



Need auto repair help? Ask a DriverSide auto mechanic for free.

Track Your Service Records
Get Recall Alerts
Get Updated Value Estimates on Your Car.
Go to a Review