Budgeting on Road Trips
If you are strapped for cash, possibly a struggling college student or a family with a single income, you may have to consider road trips on a budget. Trips can be very expensive for the most part. However, you can cut a few corners when traveling in order to save money and still have some fun- without a doubt! Personal finances are hard on everyone currently, so this form of saving has really become popular.
Budgeting for a vacation or getaway trip can be a bit tricky, so just be sure that you are planning far in advance; even down to which hotels you will stay at, and where. Let's stop wasting time and plan your road trip budget now!
Budgeting Your Food When Traveling
Food can be one of the highest expenses when traveling, especially if it is an entire family. Most of the food consumed is usually fast food. You can significantly lower food costs through one of two ways. The first way is to buy value menu items for the entire family. This will usually involve a side item, a main item (such as a sandwich or burger), and a drink. A family of four can eat on $12 through many fast food chains. Otherwise, an average meal could cost upwards of 5 or 6 dollars; a pretty big savings for a single meal. If you want to push the limits and really save money on the trip, you can pack drinks and food before leaving. Basics such as drinks, sandwich meats, condiments, and other items can be stored in a cooler, while chips and room temperature snacks can be stored throughout the car. With this method, an entire family can eat for as little as $4!
Budget Through Off Season Road Tripping
During peak traveling months, such as spring break season, the summer, or winter holidays, many hotels will be packed and gas prices will rise. Try avoiding this competition by traveling during off season times. Hotels are usually slower, and gas prices tend to be slightly cheaper. When hotels experience low volume you can usually find great room deals. This is especially true during weekdays; hotels will usually see many check in's during weekends, instead of weekdays.
Booking Hotel Rooms before the Road Trip
Long before the road trip, you should book your hotel room. Many hotels offer discounts for booking rooms online at least 4-8 weeks before your intended stay. If you know the route that you will be traveling, you can pinpoint a hotel that you would like to stop at during the trip.
Easing Gas Prices: Budget Friendly Road Trips
There are a number of ways that you can ease gas prices when traveling. First, the vehicle you are traveling in should receive a check up by a qualified mechanic. It should have an oil change, a tune up, and any necessary repairs. The tires should be checked for tread and air pressure readings. By ensuring that everything is running in good condition, you can avoid a loss in gas mileage.
Many stores, such as Kroger's, offer fuel reward programs. Many gas station chains offer this as well. By earning towards these fuel rewards, you can later use them on your fill ups during the road trip. These programs are extremely budget friendly, especially when it comes to road trips.
Crashing for Free On the Road
If you really do not have the cash to spend on a hotel, such as in the event that you underestimated how much gas the trip would require, you can always find places to crash at for the night for free. You can camp out at parks and recreational areas in order to save some money. This will also require keeping a tent and a sleeping bag on hand; so do not forget this traveling must have!
Smart Budgeting: Splitting the Costs of the Road Trip
If your financial situation is in a bind and you cannot get a cash loan or borrow money for the trip, invite others along in the event that they split the costs. The average road trip may cost around $500, not including food. This cost can drop to $125 should three other travelers join you. When planning road trips on a budget, it always helps to have a traveling buddy that you can split all of the costs with.
Road Trips on A Budget Couldn't Be Easier: Utilizing Smart Phones
Smart phones are just that: smart! You can use your phone to accomplish many different money saving tasks. Different applications, such as GasBuddy, help you to map out competitors for particular services and goods. For example: GasBuddy can show you each station located along your route, as well as their most recent gas prices. Other applications can help you to compare hotel prices and book a room quickly. You can even use your phone to locate toll highways and avoid them!
You also cannot forget about free attractions, whether they are tourist areas or wildlife preserves. These are a great way to get some time out of the car while enjoying the areas you're visiting. Stopping along the way helps you to get off the beaten path and create some new memories. The road can get very boring and uneventful; why should a road trip become boring? Just because you are traveling on a budget doesn't mean your personal finances have to stand in the way of some wholesome fun!
A Side Attraction for a Budget Friendly Roadtrip: Cadillac Ranch
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 20, 2013:
Up, Useful, and Interesting.
Thanks for all the good, helpful advice on traveling on a budget. I'm especially glad to learn about GasBuddy.
Last May I traveled from Michigan to Idaho and back by Greyhound bus. By buying my ticket more than a week ahead of my departure date, I paid a discount price that was significantly cheaper than traveling by plane, train, the regular bus price, or car. To further reduce my cost, most of my meals were picnic food out of a bag on my lap. And on the bus I could read and write instead of having to drive.
CraftytotheCore on October 14, 2013:
Great tips and advice. We haven't been on really long trips lately, but we do travel several times a month. The grocery store here also has a reward system and it pays out about 10 to 15 cents off a gallon.
LKMore01 on August 18, 2013:
Excellent practical tips, angryelf. Voted up and useful. My family has really enjoyed long distance traveling together and we have utilized all the suggestions you've made. This makes me want to go another road trip right now!
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on August 02, 2013:
I remember when I was a student or at the beginning of my marriage, we went camping because it was way less expensive than go in a hotel. It's possible to travel for less. But I must say that with the high cost of gas now it's probably harder..... and in Europe, the price of gas is way higher than in North America!