How to Pay For Your Next Road Trip

There’s one thing that is a given when it comes to planning a road trip: You will need to buy gas! That car won’t get from historical site to museum to hotel by itself. The fun part of a trip is the getting there, while the less fun part is paying for everything.


When it comes to trip planning, many people save money in a savings account until they have what they feel like is enough, and then most of the trip items, including gas, are paid for in cash or from the account. But instead, if you know you’re going to be paying for fuel, try to find a fuel card where you’re getting the best rewards for the purchases you’re making.

No matter what country you’re traveling to, a service like can help you find the best fuel card for that country. In addition, some credit cards offer auto insurance that you can use instead of whatever might be offered by the car rental company.


Before you go, create a budget for all you might need — gas, food, lodging, entertainment, and don’t forget road snacks! Driving is often less expensive than flying, but there are always expenses that you might not expect, so include an “unforeseen circumstances” category in your budget.

For instance, a flat tire could wreak havoc on a budget unless you’re a member of a roadside service provider such as AAA. Check to be sure that your roadside service provider covers your travel if you’re going out of the country. Some automobile insurance also offers roadside service protection, but if not, add joining a roadside service club to your budget.

Another feature that you might want to include in your budget is something like a GPS or even a satellite phone if you’re going to be places that are very remote and you aren’t sure if you’ll have service.

It’s always easier to plan for emergencies before you have them, and a recent experience by one of our close friends that happened when she and her family experienced a flat tire while in a remote area of Yellowstone National Park, and they got separated and didn’t have phone service. Our poor friend found out that consistent and reliable cell phone coverage is not a dependable thing to expect while on the open road.

How to budget for gas

When taking into consideration gas costs for your trip, look at gas costs along the way, not where you are originating from. Gas prices vary quite a bit. As of the time of this writing, for instance, gas prices in Texas and other Southern states are as low as $2.25 a gallon while gas prices in West Coast states are up to $4.07 a gallon (for regular).

Gas prices tend to rise in the spring and summer across the country and tend to drop in the winter. Be sure you know your car’s mileage status, and divide the total distance you’ll drive by your vehicle’s miles per gallon to estimate how much gas you’ll have to buy. Always tack on a little bit more for those unexpected side trips you’ll take.

Check out a resource like AAA Gas Prices to help you figure out the prices of the states you’ll be passing through. Gas Buddy tracks gas prices by ZIP code, metro area and state, so if you know exactly where you’ll be going, you an get a very good idea of how much it’s going to cost you to get there.

Happy driving!