There are few things better in life than packing up the car, strapping everyone into their seats, and setting forth on an awesome road trip. It’s in a different league entirely to those vacations that involve airport security lines and taxis to the city; road trips are free-spirited adventures, ones that encourage everyone in your traveling clan to have fun. Family time, new adventures, fun…it’s all good; except the cost. Alas, it’s also true that they can be more expensive than you might like. Unless you take steps to keep the costs of the trip down, you might find that your American road trip puts a bigger dent in your bank account than you expected.
Where Are You Going?
As with most destinations, the actual method of transportation accounts for only a portion of the overall cost of the vacation. The rest will be down to where you’re journeying too. Your cost per day will fluctuate significantly, depending on where you’re visiting. For example, you’ll spend much more if you’re taking a road trip through the famous East Coast cities, rather than if you were doing a nature trip of the South. Everything about the journey, from accommodation to food and attractions, would cost more in a cosmopolitan city. As such, make sure you’re checking out the costs of your intended destination before your journey. Planning and budgeting before setting out is key if cost reduction is your goal.
Tune Up the Vehicle
If you’re going to keep the costs of your road trip down, then it’ll be in your best interests to take your car for a tune-up before you go. You’ll spend significantly more money getting towed and repairing your vehicle if it breaks down in an unfamiliar environment, especially since there’ll be a time factor (you’ll need it fixed quickly). It’s best not to take for granted that your vehicle will make it through the journey unscathed, especially if you’ll be traveling through different terrains than what you’re used to. Your car will operate differently when it’s in the mountains compared to when you’re driving around the city.
Avoiding Expensive Repairs
It’s not just your car you need to worry about when you’re on a long road trip. You’ll also need to take into account other vehicles too. While you’ll do your utmost to ensure you’re driving safely, the same can’t be said for everyone on the roads. If you’re involved in an accident, even a minor one, you could end up with a big bill that skyrockets the cost of your road trip. If something happens, make sure you’re getting as many details as possible, and then work with a personal injury lawyer to get the compensation you deserve. As well as other vehicles, you’ll also want to keep your eye on the factors that could cause you to have an accident, such as the weather. It might be summer, but some corners of the United States will be getting thunderstorms and other severe weather. For example, currently tornadoes are in season (yes there is a season) in the Mid West so be sure you’re ready for that type of thing.
Where to Buy Gas
The biggest cost of your trip will be gas. Depending on how far you’re going to be traveling, you might find that you’re visiting the pumps as many times in a week or so as you would in a month or more back home. As such, this is one of the areas where you’ll want to take additional steps to reduce your expenses. One thing to remember is that the cost of gas is not universal — it will differ from place to place, sometimes significantly so. If you’re going to be hopping across state lines over and over, then it’s worth researching which states have the cheapest gas — and then make sure you’re filling up before you leave.
Learn To Drive
Hear me out here…it would be a shame to find the cheapest gas possible, and then unnecessarily burn more than is needed. Yet actually, this is what a lot of people end up doing. In order to make the most of the gas in your tank, you need to ensure that you’re achieving a good MPG (miles per gallon). The difference in the cost of a journey might seem small when you’re, say, just driving to the shops, but can be significant when you’re traveling across the country. Depending on how long you’re on your road trip for, you might just find that you save the equivalent of two trips or more to the gas station.
Where to Sleep
No rest for the wicked…except when you’re tired. It is strongly recommended that you embrace the idea of camping when you’re traveling in your car. This has multiple benefits. First, it can be way more fun and beautiful than staying in a hotel, but also, it’s much, much cheaper. Now, it might be a little too much to camp every single night — sometimes, you’ll just want to get a hot shower, wash your clothes, fully relax, and so on. On those nights, look at staying at roadside motels. It’s much cheaper than staying in a city — if you want to visit the city, then just drive to the edge and get public transport in (you’ll save more on parking).
Food and Drinks
It’s not cheap, having to eat and drink all day, when you’re on the road. I don’t know about yours, but my kids seem to expect to eat every single day. However, there are ways to keep the costs down. For example, instead of eating every meal in a restaurant or other place where the food is prepared for you, do it yourself. If you’ve got camping equipment, it’ll be more than straightforward to make your own meals — take a look at some of the best camping meals you can make using a stove for some inspiration.
Really, when it comes to road trips, it should be all about nature — there are simply too many benefits to that side of life. For example, it makes it much easier and cheaper to stay entertained. Instead of paying to access a museum or other attraction, you can simply go exploring in the great outdoors. Perfect!
Short and Sweet
Finally, make sure you’re not overdoing the duration of your road trip. The longer you’re on the road, the more expensive it’ll be. Pick a reasonable amount of time and arrive home wishing you’d gone for longer, rather than knowing you went for too long. It’s much better to come home ready to plan your next adventure than sorry that you went at all.
What’s your fave road trip memory? Is there a road trip you’ve always dreamed of taking? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!