Have you ever wanted to just get in your car and drive to another state? How about across the country? Road trips, short or long, are exciting adventures that allow you to not just see, but experience the world around you. However, just because you decide to drive to your destination instead of flying or taking a train, doesn’t mean you won’t need to spend some money.
Though a cheaper option, at least some money is necessary. Here are some tips for taking a road trip on a budget.
Check Your Car
Before you leave on your long drive, be sure that your car can handle the trip. Get your oil and other fluids checked and confirm that your tires are safe to drive on. Making sure your car can handle a long drive is vital to sticking to your budget, as you don’t want to get stuck, broken down, with an expensive repair bill. Also be sure to fill up your tank with gas and have a separate budget for gas money set aside.
Pack Your Own Food
Bringing your own road snacks, along with a few ingredients for meals such as bread, peanut butter and jelly, and cold cuts, will save you a ton of money along the way. The less food stops you have to make will cut down on the cash you’ll need to spend. Don’t forget to pack a supply of water and other drinks, as those costs can add up, as well.
Choose a Destination
Though road trips can sometimes be spontaneous, it’s always smart to have some sort of idea of where you’re heading. This includes the stops you make along the way. Hotels can quickly drain your budget, so researching your route ahead of time will help you find the best deals on places to stay and activities.
Don’t Stop for Gas Right Off the Highway
Avoid gas stations directly off the interstate, as they are commonly more expensive than those further into town. Sacrificing the miles and time to get into town will be worth it on your gas budget, plus, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover new things and meet new people.
Research Free Entertainment
As you do your route research, search for any free activities along the way. Museums, parks and local shows and performances are great ways to explore new cities and towns. You can meet locals and make conversation while potentially learning of other free or inexpensive activities in the area.
Have a Separate Budget for Fun
Before you leave, set aside “fun money” for any activities, restaurants and stores you may discover on the road. Not everything you will do on a road trip will be free, even with a ton of research. Remember, a road trip is supposed to be fun! Even with a budget, there are many things to do, places to eat and experiences to enjoy.
Bring a Credit Card—Just in Case!
When you’re on the road, anything can happen. And when you have limited funds, whatever happens can quickly become a major stress. Whether your car breaks down, you run out of cash or an emergency comes along, having a credit card with you will be helpful. Of course, you want to avoid using it for random activities or dining out. Remember, you’re road tripping on a budget!