How to Save Money on Your Road Trip: Budgeting Tips

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph May 22, 2023
Updated 2023/05/22 at 6:45 PM
How to save money on a road trip
How to save money on a road trip

A road trip offers a wonderful opportunity to break free from the monotony of daily life. The excitement of embarking on an adventure, admiring picturesque landscapes, and cruising on winding roads while listening to your favourite tunes is simply delightful.

However, the major hurdle that arises is the financial aspect, which can put a damper on your plans. Nevertheless, fear not!

Not all road trips have to drain your wallet. Below are some clever suggestions and strategies to help you save money without sacrificing any of the enjoyment

Driving on a road trip is a wonderful option instead of using public transportation such as buses, trains, or planes.

This is because driving allows you to witness the scenery firsthand and conveniently make as many pit stops as you desire, whenever you choose to do so.

If you’re embarking on a long journey or planning a special vacation, driving can be a cost-effective option. Here are ten suggestions to help you plan an enjoyable road trip without overspending.

How To Save Money On Your Road Trip: Budgeting Tips

Make A Budget And Stick To It:

Prior to embarking on a road trip, it is advisable to devise a financial plan to estimate your expenditure on various aspects such as transportation, entertainment, contingency funds, and other miscellaneous expenses.

By doing so, you can ensure that you stay within your budget and avoid overspending. This will give you a sense of assurance since you will have an idea of the amount of money allocated for each element of your journey.

After selecting your desired location and determining the optimal route, it’s essential to create a financial plan.

How can you do this? Start by estimating the total distance you’ll cover during your road trip, as it will enable you to gauge your vehicle’s fuel requirements and calculate associated costs.

Additionally, don’t overlook the expenses for rest stops, toll booths, and overnight accommodations. It’s also prudent to set aside a portion of your budget for unexpected expenditures.

Plan Your Destination:

To begin with, it is crucial to map out your itinerary ahead of time carefully. Selecting the correct route will prevent you from getting disoriented or encountering delays, thereby saving both your fuel and time.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re embarking on a road trip, which implies that the adventure should be just as thrilling as reaching your final destination!

Take A Friend And Split The Cost:

If you plan to embark on an extended journey, consider inviting your friends to accompany you. Not only does the saying “the more, the merrier” apply, but you can also split the costs of fuel and other expenses, resulting in twice the enjoyment! Additionally, now that you have established a budget, it is important to adhere to it.

Travelling by car with friends can reduce expenses for fuel, meals, and accommodation. To divide expenses among your group, you can use a payment application such as Venmo or Zelle.

These apps enable you to reimburse your friends quickly, and you can either keep the funds in your account, transfer them back to your bank, or use the debit card associated with the app for other purchases.

Take Filling Snacks With You:

If you regularly buy food and drinks while travelling, the cost can add up fast. To save money, consider doing a large grocery shopping trip before you embark on your journey.

Look for snacks that are satisfying and can withstand different weather conditions, such as trail mix, jerky, bars, crackers, nut butter, and apples.

Using a stainless-steel water bottle that is insulated and can be used multiple times can assist you in reducing expenses by maintaining the temperature of your water or coffee, resulting in cold water and hot coffee for a longer period of time.

Create Unique Car Lunches:

An alternative method to reduce expenses during a road trip is by preparing meals or cooking your own food.

Going out to eat in restaurants can be costly, especially for families, hence, you can use some innovative ideas to prepare meals, such as making tortilla pizzas, stuffed avocados, tacos, or chicken nachos, even if you do not have a stovetop.

Analyze Your Lodging Alternatives:

Hotels aren’t the sole choice for taking a break during your road trip. If you want to stay in a hotel, you can search online for promotional codes that can save you money.

Are you open to exploring alternative options? You can save money by reserving a room through Airbnb, or you could try Couchsurfing, which allows travellers to stay with hosts for free.

As a last resort, it’s even possible to sleep for free in a Walmart parking lot.

Additionally, you have the option to earn additional fuel points ahead of your journey by purchasing essential items through the online portal.

This includes gift cards, ranging from Amazon and iTunes to Home Depot, which will grant you twice the amount of points.

Double Check Your Car

Maintaining your vehicle is crucial for staying within your budget. Whether you’re travelling by car or bike, it is essential to have your vehicle serviced before embarking on your journey.

Keeping your vehicle in good condition will ensure a smooth trip and prevent unnecessary expenses that often arise from vehicle malfunctions during road trips.

It is advisable to request your mechanic to carefully inspect various components of your vehicle, such as wires, cables, headlights, taillights, engine batteries, brake pads, and other parts.

To economize during your road trip, try extending the lifespan of your gasoline. GasBuddy is a mobile application that can assist you in mapping out your journey, estimating expenses, and locating fuel stations.

Additionally, the firm offers a service that enables users to save money on gasoline by registering via the app, with discounts ranging from five cents to twenty cents per gallon based on the level of membership.

To make your gas last longer, it’s important to not only purchase the cheapest fuel but also maintain proper tire pressure, eliminate any unnecessary weight in your vehicle, and utilize cruise control.

Make Your Own Meals:

The top road trip destinations are known for having many places to stop.

However, if you’re trying to save money, it’s best to avoid these pit stops. Instead, make sure to pack enough water and snacks for your journey.

Ready-to-eat snacks and juice packs are particularly helpful, especially when travelling with children. By having these supplies on hand, you can continue your trip without the need to stop and satisfy your hunger.

Rather than splurging on expensive meals at hotels along the highway, consider preparing your own food. It can be an enjoyable activity for families or groups to have a barbecue evening with live music. In addition, cooking your own meals will reduce the risk of food poisoning.


Travelling by car allows for greater flexibility in your timetable and provides a higher degree of independence in planning your journey. Furthermore, the potential savings can be substantial, particularly when embarking on a road trip with a small group of friends or family.

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