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12 Strategies for Saving Money on your Road Trip

How to save money on a road trip

Driving across the country can be a fun, memorable experience. However, it can also put a big dent in your wallet, especially if you don’t prepare in advance. This past week, my boyfriend and I made the 20 hour journey from Boston to Chicago. It was a long haul, however, being prepared in advance made our trip more enjoyable. Check out my personal tips below to help you budget for your next road trip.

12 Useful Road Trip Saving Tips

1. Brew your own coffee in an insulated travel mug. Not only will this save you money, it will also cut out some extra time for a coffee run. An insulated travel mug should keep your coffee warm for a decent period of time. I really like Teavana’s Insulated Travel Tumbler. Although they are supposed to be used for tea, I like them for my coffee too as my drink stays warm for hours!

2. Store a box of tea bags in your car. I keep a box of tea packets in my car. When I want tea, I just fill up my mug with free hot water from a gas station. This saves me both time and money.

3. If you are going to rent a car, consider a hybrid. My Prius gets over 50mpg. With gas prices as high as they are today, this tactic will really help cut down on your costs.

4. Skip the restaurants. Pack a cooler the night before with breakfast and lunch. On our trip, we brought apples, salad, Cinnamon bread, and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. For lunch, we packed salads, sandwiches, and chips. Imagine what all this would have cost at 2 restaurants! We stopped at a nice state park in Pennsylvania. The park stop doubled as a relaxing break after hours on the road.

5. Book your hotel in advance. Hotel rates tend to drop the more in advance you book. Also, try to find a promo code on Retail Me Not. I found a 15% La Quinta code, which saved me almost $20!

6. If traveling with pets, book hotels with free pet stay policies. Some hotels charge outrageous pet fees – I have seen upwards of $30 per night! La Quinta and Red Roof Inn take pets for free. There is no point in paying outrageous rates for a quick roadside stop.

7. Think of anything you might need for your trip and pack it in advance. Having all your clothes, supplies, etc. on hand will cost you less and save you time on your trip. Don’t waste time and money during your trip shopping for essentials which could have easily been packed in advance.

8. Book hotels with free breakfast and/or kitchenettes. A free breakfast before getting back on the road saves time, frustration, and money!

9. Pack a case of bottled water. Multiple gas station stops for drinks can really add up! Keep a case in your trunk to save time and money. A case costs $3 while a single bottle of water can cost upwards of  $1.

10. Avoid toll roads. Set your GPS to avoid tolls. It may add a little time, however, the saved money will be worth the extra time. We avoided $40 in tolls by adding an extra 45 minutes to our drive. We also had the advantage of avoiding NYC traffic!

11. Pick up hotel lobby brochures for coupons. Many brochures contain valuable coupons and information on local attractions.

12. Book a hotel near a restaurant. This saves you the hassle and extra driving costs associated with finding a restaurant around town. Plus, who wants to drive around more after being on the road all day?!

Have you used any of these budget road travel tips? What are your favorite ways to save money on the road?

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