A friend of mine recently asked if I had any tips on how to take an inexpensive road trip. I thought about it for a while and came up with a few suggestions. Mr. Handsome and I took several road trips with his family before we were married, and we plan to continue that tradition in the coming years.
1. Planning Ahead is Key
Before heading out, sit down and map out your route. Consider how far you plan to drive each day, and search the internet for inexpensive accommodations. If you plan to stay in hotels, booking ahead will usually give you the best deal, but be sure to ask about the cancellation policies beforehand. Research attractions that you plan to visit, and calculate the cost (if any) of each.
2. Campgrounds are Cheaper
If you’re traveling in summer, consider camping. If you already own tents and sleeping bags, it’s a great way to keep costs down. But keep in mind that campgrounds are much less numerous than hotels, and some may require you to book ahead.
3. Pack a Cooler
Depending on the size of your family, eating out at every meal could double the cost of your road trip. When I was a kid, my mom always packed a large cooler of food, and when we ran out, we stopped at grocery stores instead of fast-food chains. Many hotel rooms have mini freezers, which came in handy when our ice packs thawed. Otherwise, we purchased ice at gas stations.
4. Budget for Souvenirs
Picking out a few mementos is a great way to remember your trip, but souvenirs can be pricey. Before embarking on your adventure, decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it. If you don’t end up finding something you love, then you can save that money or spend it on something else. A friend told me that she and her husband decided when they married to budget to purchase a small Christmas ornament on every vacation they take.
5. Leave Wiggle Room
When planning your route, allot extra time each day for unexpected stops. That way, when you see intriguing signs along the highway for attractions or historical landmarks, you’ll be able to pull over.
6. Bring Your Own Entertainment
Pack a box of board games and family-friendly movies and TV shows, in case you arrive at your hotel or campground early. Not only will this provide additional opportunities for family bonding, but it will also help avoid unnecessary entertainment costs.
6. Relax and Have Fun
Saving money is important, but it will all be for nothing if your road trip is not enjoyable.
Do you have any tips to add?