Cheap Trips: Tips to Save Money When on the Road

Road trips are often about more than sightseeing or going on vacation – at its core, the road trip is about doing so on the cheap. But sometimes is can be hard to keep the costs down, especially when on long trips, and still have fun. Let’s look at some tips to keep the cost down when you hear “Road Trip!”


1. Make sure your vehicle is well maintained.

A well-tuned engine, proper tire pressure and similar routine car care issues will not only reduce the possibility of a break down they will also increase gas mileage.

2. Avoid congestion when possible.

You will make better time and experience increased gas mileage if you can avoid the stop & go of rush hour or similar congestion. Map to avoid high traffic area when possible and to pass through at non-peak hours when you must.

3. Research price trends prior to leaving.

Identify the stations with the best prices and map their location so you can better plan stops. While on the road you can also use free smartphone apps to identify local bargains.


1. Pack meals.

Packing your own meals is the best way to avoid the soaring prices of food when traveling. Of course, packed meals will only get your so far. To further stretch your food budget, you should also pack ingredients for future meals as well.

2. Variety snacks.

Speaking of packing it is important to pack a variety of snacks, meals and drinks. Even the hardiest traveler will grow weary of peanut butter & jelly and be tempted to stop for a snack or splurge and hit the local fast food chain.

3. Leftover snacks.

When you do stop make your dollar go even further by getting any leftovers to go. You or other members of your party can then enjoy them as a second meal or on the road snack.


1. Couch surfing, or staying with friends and family, is the cheapest way to save money when traveling. Of course, this does involve two important requirements: (1) you must have friends or family along the route and (2) they must be willing to let you stay for the night. If you think you might be traveling any time soon I recommend mending fences and reconnecting on social media now.

2. If there are no friends or family available, you can always rely on Mother Nature. Camping may not be free, but it is still far cheaper than motels, hotels or other commercial accommodations.

3. When you are forced to pay for a room look for alternatives to the traditional hotel or motel. Bed and breakfasts or Airbnbs can be some great money savers, especially in the off season.

4. Finally, there are coupon and points. Discounts clubs and coupons are a great way to reduce the price, get freebies and even upgrades. Many smartphone apps will let you search for specials while on the road.


1. Parks are a wonderful way to learn and entertain at the same time. Many state and local parks offer free access, while National Parks to have small fees that vary depending on length of stay. Some parks will also offer additional amenities such as picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing & hiking for no or a small additional charge.

2. Museums are another combination learning/ entertainment opportunity. Like the parks it is possible to find many museums that are free, while other will require a small entrance fee. Even if you do pay to get it you can often spend hours exploring and enjoying before it is time to go.

3. Sometimes it is nice to see the big attractions – amusement parks, water parks, sports teams etc. Although these can be costly expenses you can find plenty of great deals with a little research. Review websites for exclusive discounts, pre-purchase opportunities or off-season discounts.

Are you longing for your next road trip? Do you need a few more ways to save money before it is a reality? Check out this You Tube video for even more money saving tips.


Updated: February 1, 2018 — 3:47 am
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