Frugal Tips for Road Trips
Posted By :Elena Difiore
Posted At : Monday, Mar 21, 2011
Summer is just around the corner and you know what that means…road trips! Packing up the car with your best friend or even your family members can be a blast, but it can also be devastating to your wallet. Consider the following tips the next time you’re about to hit the open road.
Become Snack Savvy
Depending on where you’re headed and how long it’ll take you to get there, the price of snacks can really add up. Most of us fail to plan ahead and rely on the snacks and food options offered at each little pit stop along the way. However, instead of spending $5-$10 during each bathroom break, why not stock up ahead of time? By purchasing larger, economy-sized bags of your favorite chips or snacks at your local grocery store before you leave, you’ll be able to avoid the outrageous markups of the convenience stores along the way.
Embrace Your Inner Couch-Surfer
Ideally, we’d all stay in 5-Star hotels and order room service every day of our vacation. However, we all know that isn’t realistic for most of our budgets. That being said, the next time you feel like planning a road trip ask yourself, “Who do I know that lives in _______(insert destination here)_________?” By choosing a destination where you have friends or family, you’re setting yourself up for huge savings on room and board. Granted, you should make sure the people you know in that particular city/town are emotionally close enough to you to open their home to you and your guest(s). You also want to make sure you and your guest feel comfortable staying with the specific individual(s). That being said, by couch surfing or packing an inflatable mattress, you can save upwards of around $100 a day in hotel rates and fees, depending on your destination.
Don’t Be a Gas Guzzler!
It’s no surprise that gas is one of the biggest costs of embarking on a road trip. With oil reaching over $100 a barrel, the price of gas is enough reason for some people to forsake hitting the open road altogether. However, there are several ways to save a few bucks on gas. First off, evaluate whose car has the best gas mileage and choose that vehicle for your road trip. Compact cars and hybrids are so common nowadays that you can significantly cut down on how many times you fill up simply by driving one of these options.
Another way to save on gas is to be diligent about where you fill up. Before you head out on your road trip, find the cheapest station near your house and completely fill up your tank. If at all possible, try to avoid small gas stations in the middle of nowhere. If a station doesn’t have nearby gas stations as competitors, then it has no incentive to keep its prices low. Many of these locations know they’re the only fuel source for miles around and will use your desperation as an excuse to charge outrageous prices.
To improve your gas mileage, ease off the accelerator because accelerating quickly eats up your gas. Speeding is also a gas-guzzler, not to mention the fact that a speeding ticket can quickly ruin any savings you’ve achieved on the road trip so far.
In addition to slowing down, make sure to keep your tires inflated close to their maximum amount. This not only saves gas but also is much safer for your vehicle than underinflated tires. And last but not least, if at all possible, opt for an AC-free ride. This tip obviously won’t work if you’re planning a road trip across the Arizona desert in the middle of July, but if the destination and weather permit, roll down the windows instead.
These are just a few tips and tricks to help you embark on a great road trip without breaking the bank. Put these suggestions to work the next time you hit the road for a vacation and see the savings add up.