Budget Hack: End of Summer Road Trip on the Cheap
Nothing says summer like an epic, cross-country road trip with your closest friends or family. However, between fuel, attractions, and food, a road trip can get expensive, fast. With the simple tips in this article, you can still go on your summer road trip, but you’ll stay under budget and avoid paying for the trip for the rest of the year.
Pack Snacks and Meals Ahead of Time
Sure, part of the joy of going on a road trip is trying the different cuisines from each region you visit. However, you don’t have to eat every meal out to get the experience, and packing quick breakfasts, lunches, and snacks that you can eat on the road will save you a lot of money over the course of your trip. Going for fast food seems cheap, but those small costs will add up over time, especially if your summer road trip extends to five or seven days. Plus, if you pack your own food, you’ll eat healthier and save time on the road, letting you get to your destinations more quickly and with more energy. Save money by planning snacks and meals ahead and you can spend more on attractions or souvenirs, or save your cash for a rainy day in case you can’t make ends meet.
Make the Most of Fuel Stops
Fuel stops are an inevitable part of any road trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of them and pinch pennies here and there. Fuel costs have gone down dramatically over the past few years, and you can find the cheapest gas in your area by downloading an app. Apps like CheapGas can pinpoint the most affordable gallon near you, saving you the headache and waste of driving around to several stations.
Depending on your credit score, it may also be wise to take out a credit card that rewards you with double points when you use it on gas. If you can fund another trip while you fuel up on your summer road trip, you’re truly making the most of your budget. If you take out a credit card, make sure you budget for your payments and make them on time to avoid any late fees or snowballing debt.
Get Your Car Checked Out
Getting your car checked out before your summer road trip is an important step, even if it costs you a little more up front. What you’ll pay to have a specialist proactively check your oil, tires, air conditioning, and all of the other moving parts of your car is nothing compared to what you’ll pay if your car breaks down on the road. Towing your car and having it worked on by whatever mechanic you can find is a sure way to bust your budget, and you could even wind up stranded and paying for unnecessary nights at a hotel.
Check in at Visitor Centers
Visitor centers are plentiful when you’re driving from state to state on your summer road trip. The people who work there locals and are sure to have great tips on what attractions are worth seeing and which will break your budget. They’ll probably even point you in the direction of locally-known spots that aren’t on the map. They’ll also have advice on where to stay and which routes to take to avoid traffic and road work, saving you even more money.
Be Smart When You Stay
Hotel stays are one of the most costly parts of any summer road trip. If you feel adventurous and have a large car or back seat that lies down, you can try sleeping in your car at a rest stop to avoid hotel expenses all together. Just make sure to lock up before you get your shut eye.
Camping is also a great, cheap option that’ll help keep your budget on track. There are campgrounds spread out everywhere along the highway, and you can read reviews or ask at the visitor center to find out which ones are best. Cooking your dinners over a campfire will save you even more money, and give you a great chance to bond with your friends and family – and even tell a few ghost stories.
If you do stay at a hotel, call ahead and see if you can get a discounted rate through the military, AAA, or any other program. These discounts are usually significant and can make the difference in staying on budget on your summer road trip.
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