13 Budget-Friendly Road Trip Tips

Summer’s almost over, the weather’s getting cooler, and the leaves are about to change.  That means it’s the perfect time to get together with your family or friends and go somewhere special.  It’s fun to get away for a while, but you don’t want to go broke while you’re doing it.  The good news is, with a little planning, you can do a lot of traveling without spending a lot of money.  With that in mind, here are a few cheap, fun ways to see the country this autumn.

Create a budget:  Planning your trip ahead of time will make it much easier to keep from overspending.  You want to calculate how much you plan to spend on food, gas, lodging, entertainment and anything you think might be relevant.  This will give you an idea of how much money your trip will cost while also preventing you from spending money on things you don’t need.

Couchsurfing:  Couchsurfing is a service that allows you to find a host in your travel destination and stay with them for free.  Along with being a no-brainer way to save money, it can also be a great way to meet new people and make new friends.  Their site has hosts from all around the world, so finding a place to stay should never be a problem.

Airbnb:  If you’re not comfortable staying with someone you haven’t met or you have a large number of people to accommodate, Airbnb might be more your style.  Airbnb allows people to rent our their entire home or apartment.  It’s not free like couchsurfing, but it’s still far cheaper than staying in a hotel.  As an added bonus, you also have all the amenities of a real home such as a kitchen and washing machine.

Camping:  This is a great money-saving option if you’re a fan of the outdoors.  Most campsites are only $15 to $30.  Again, this is cheaper than any hotel you’re going to find.  On top of this, spending the night under the stars can be an adventure in its own right.  It’s a great way to have fun and save money at the same time.

Bring your own food:  Although you’ll certainly want to eat out once or twice while exploring the country, it’s no secret that food can add up to a lot of money when you’re going on a big trip.  One way to lessen this cost is to simply pack a few sandwiches for the road.  Bringing a cooler full of food and drinks can be a great way to eat for cheap.

Parking Panda:  Parking can sometimes become an issue when you’re doing a lot of traveling.  That’s where Parking Panda comes in.  Parking Panda is a service that lets you book parking spots ahead of time.  It also allows you to compare parking prices, leaving you to spend your money on something else.

Gasbuddy:  This one is a necessity for anyone who travels a lot.   Gas is going to be one of your biggest expenses on a roadtrip.  One thing that can make this less expensive is a handy little app called Gasbuddy.  Gasbuddy searches for gas stations in your area and finds the cheapest ones.  This one app can save you a lot of money during your trip.

Rent a car:  Renting a car is another great option for those looking to save money on gas.  If your own car gets poor gas mileage, renting a more efficient car is an option you want to consider.  This can also prevent any wear and tear your car might sustain on a long trip.  However, keep in mind that you may need to insure the car you’re renting.  This leads to our next point.

Make sure you’re insurance is up to date:  When it comes to insurance, there’s a few things to consider before taking your car out on the road. Firstly, remember that car insurance companes differ from state to state. Along with renting a car, you may need to cover other people who might be driving.  Luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get this taken care of because TheZebra.com makes it very easy to compare car insurance quotes.  You could spend a lot of money if you’re in an accident on your trip and you’re not covered.  Please make sure you have this taken care of before heading out.

National Park Pass:  This is a must-have for nature lovers.  America’s park system is one of its greatest features.  And for 80 dollars, you can get an annual pass to every national park in the country.  This will save you plenty of money in the long run if you plan to see places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon.

Citypass:  Another pass that can help you save money is Citypass.  Citypass can help you save up to 50% off when visiting a city’s most popular landmarks.  If you plan to see all of the usual tourist attractions in your chosen destination, then this is something you need to check out.  Most of America’s biggest cities offer a citypass, so check ahead and see.

Look for free attractions:  On the other hand, there’s also a lot of things to see and do in America for free.  Virtually every large city in America has free attractions.  New York City has the Central Park.  San Antonio has the Alamo.  Boston has the Freedom Trail.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to see something really amazing.  Research your destination ahead of time and see if they have anything to offer for free.

Travel a scenic route:  Depending on which road you take, the drive itself can be an experience.  Obviously, the most popular of these is the legendary Route 66.  Running from Chicago, Illinois all the way to Santa Monica, California, this drive by itself offers a wealth of incredible sights and quirky small towns.  But Route 66 isn’t the only one.  With some research, you can likely find a scenic drive in or around your home state.  A road trip like this doesn’t require any money outside the usual food, gas, and lodging, making it worthy of consideration.

Author: Brandon Park