When you want to travel, a road trip has more perks compared to flying. When you take the plane, you have to pay a ticket for every individual on the trip. On the other hand, a road trip will cost the same irrespective of the number of people in the car.
A road trip can give you lots of freedom and it’s filled with fun and adventure as long as you still have money to spend. Whether you want to traverse the country or just travel within the state, there are practical ways to help you save some cash while enjoying a fulfilling road trip. This article will give you some tips to plan a budget-friendly trip without making it feel cheap.
Financing the trip
A trip can be expensive, but this doesn’t mean that you should wait until you clear credit burdens or all your loans. The truth is that you may need about five years to clear your credit card debts and if you don’t take some time off from the normal routine life can become unbearable especially if you have children.
It’s always great to start saving early and use the money you have before looking for other sources. At the same time, you can channel your tax refunds to the travel budget but make sure you leave something for your savings account. Having a prepaid credit card can be a good tool for ensuring you spend within your budget. If you don’t want to incur debts, save enough money for every category and make sure you have an allowance for any miscellaneous expenses that may arise.
Prepare your car in advance
Going for a road trip means that you will be adding some miles to your vehicle. If you prepare early, you stay away from the huge expenses sometimes later. Basically, you’d rather practice good maintenance on your car instead of making expensive repairs.
It is recommended that you tune your car at least a week prior to the trip. This will give you ample time to figure out if there is anything else that needs your attention. At the same time, it is good if you get some AAA membership. Although the initial cost can be high, you will relax while on the road since they will come to your rescue in case something happens.
Bring some food
When you are on a road trip, you need enough fuel for the car and food for everyone in the car. The cost of food can change quickly forcing you to spend more than you had planned. You might think that it’s convenient to hop in a store and buy some snacks to keep you going. But since you will be on the road for several days, this can turn out to be very expensive.
Before leaving home, make sure you have bought a variety of snacks in bulk and make sure you choose those with enough proteins and healthy fibers. You can also carry a cooler full of meals that you can prepare quickly.
When traveling, you are going to encounter new places and if you want to have a rich experience, you need to experiment with the local cuisine. As such, plan to have meals out whenever you get to a good destination. Basically, breakfast and lunch tend to be cheaper than dinner in local joints but you need to find a place with good food at a favorable price.
Sitting for long hours in the car and eating snacks can be very dehydrating. If you can carry water, you won’t have to buy a drink at every point you stop and most importantly, the car won’t be packed with empty bottles. Having several bottles of water in the car will ensure you are safe just in case your car breaks down on the road.
Planning the trip
When you are planning a budget trip, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed due to a strict budget and miscellaneous constraints. Don’t get frustrated yet and understand that you might have to revise your plan several times. As you make changes, you will realize what is essential for the trip based on your resources and the time you intend to spend.
When planning the route, try to divide the trip into a departure route, destination, and your return route. At the destination, you can stay for a few days so that you can have some time to rest before you head back. If you want to have a rich experience, the route should be a loop with little or no overlapping. Normally, you will find that either the return or departure route will be longer. Try to start with the longer loop since after getting to your destination; everyone is eager to go home.
At all times, remember that the essence of a road trip is enjoying the route and not arriving at your destination in the shortest time possible. In fact, if you can drive for a few hours in a day you will maximize the experience. Depending on the preferences of the people taking the trip, you can choose how many stops you can have in a day. Try to limit your driving time to about 7 hours a day because traveling for long hours will only make you more restless and anxious.
However, you can’t follow the schedule every time but if you find out that you need to drive for long hours, you can always compensate on the next day. You also need to understand that the interstate road system can be very boring. To make your trip interesting, try to get off and use the county highways since they won’t prevent you from driving fast and you will enjoy the diverse sceneries.
Your accommodation choices can have a huge impact on the road trip budget. When planning your trip, accommodation should be among the first things you must consider. It is better to first choose where you want to dine and see if you can get accommodation there. Considering your travel hours per day, you can figure out the places you are likely to sleep each night.
If you book ahead, make sure the amount is refundable if you don’t make it to the hotel. It is important that you understand the time allowed for a cancellation and make sure you have communicated on time. If you are traveling with kids and other family members, make sure you choose a hotel with enough space for everyone but you shouldn’t compromise on the price. But when it’s just a few people and the car has
sufficient room, you can carry some pillows and blankets so you can spend the night in the car. This way, you end up saving a lot of money at the end of the trip.
When you travel during off-peak, you are likely to find cheap hotels for both accommodation and meals. Besides, you won’t have to compete with crowds when visiting famous attractions and you will have enough time to explore more areas. When considering a budget vacation, taking a road trip should be on top of your list.
Obviously, you have to invest some time to plan the trip, but this is supposed to be fun since you are figuring out how to make it as enjoyable as possible. While you can’t predict and prepare for every circumstance, gathering all the information you need about the destination and routes can go a long way in keeping the expenses low.