Post date: 9/1/2021
Availability and special terms subject to change.
Everyone loves a solid road trip. We’re sharing our favorite tips to help you save some money, keep your travels worry-free, so you can enjoy your time more.
Prepare ahead of time. Some good ideas are checking COVID-19 protocols, weather, local food sources, and more. Also, map out your trip to ensure you’re selecting the best route, which may mean avoiding construction, the most scenic, or the fastest — and it pays to prepare for possible delays. Also, secure any necessary reservations ahead of time, such as campsites, hotels, or other accommodations.
When you plan your route, you’ll avoid wrong turns, getting lost, and uncertain decisions. It will also help with your timeline, and you can set your schedule accordingly. There are also useful tools to help plan your ideal route. Consider Badger Maps or Map Quest. Google Maps remains a tried and true source for finding attractions and planning your road trip.
Make a list. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it helps make traveling smoother. Use an in-depth Road Trip Packing List (from The Road Trip Expert) to ensure you don’t forget anything and avoid paying premium prices for essentials once you’re on your road trip. ‘Must-haves’ such as toiletries, sunscreen, bug spray, or phone chargers. If you’re planning meals, pack your cooler and snacks, too. (This can save a significant amount of money. Gas station snacks can add up in a hurry.)
Consider where you’re traveling, your activities, and the weather. Essentials include weather-appropriate clothing and shoes, important car papers, passport, driver’s license, insurance card, necessary medications, electronics, cameras, car chargers, and a small amount of cash.
For help considering all your needs, get started here.
Don’t forget your breaks. The Road Trip Expert says frequent breaks are a must on long journeys. Apps like iExit can help locate the best places to stop by using your location on the highway. Something to consider, too, especially when traveling with others, is to agree on how frequently you stop — ahead of time. Variables include the number and age of those traveling, any special medical concerns, how far you’re traveling, and your overall approach to traveling.
Establish your budget. We’d be remiss if we didn’t stress the importance of setting a budget before you hit the road. Knowing the money you have to work with can eliminate stress later on and help you enjoy your trip more.
Insider.com suggests planning for not only transportation costs but entertainment and emergencies. Some added costs to consider can be parking, park admissions, resort fees, and tolls. If you’re traveling to a city, apps like City Mapper or Parkopedia work great, and the prices are helpful to planning.
Share expenses with friends. There’s no shame in splitting costs. And if you have traveling buddies with similar passions, consider sharing the costs of traveling. You can split the cost of fuel, accommodations, food, and more. (Note: mobile banking makes transferring money easy.)
Consider innovative accommodations. Undoubtedly, if you’re booking a hotel, that can be a major portion of a trip’s cost. But there are more out-of-the-box options, says Insider.com. “Booking a room on Airbnb can be an affordable option, while Couchsurfing connects travelers and hosts to provide a place to hunker down for free.” Another idea is to book a home rental for a night or two.
Also, think twice before using the discount booking sites. Booking your reservation directly with the hotel is often cheaper.
Don’t discount camping. There are campers, and then there are the diehards. If you’re not sure, there are interesting alternatives. The Road Trip Expert loves camping and recommends an app like iOverlander.com to find the cheapest and best campsites. “It’s a great road trip resource that lists the price of the site (if there is one) as well what is available there. Perfect for a road trip on a budget.”
Also, check out this camping blog for ideas. It offers tips for novices and most experienced campers.
Get your vehicle checked out. Have the oil changed, the fluids checked, brakes and tires inspected, etc. You’ll rest easier knowing your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Also, consider signing up for roadside assistance. This will give you peace of mind if you have car troubles or need help while on the road. The American Automobile Association (AAA) offers a well-known and reliable service.
Remember, when you plan ahead of time and budget accordingly, you can avoid the unexpected and enjoy your trip more.