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Tips on Keeping Expenses Down While Going on a Road Trip

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Hitting the road and seeing America is a rite of passage for many people. However, it can be expensive to travel in this way. Luckily, there are ways you can save money while still having an unforgettable experience.

This blog post will give you some tips on keeping your expenses down when embarking on a national tour with friends or family members.

Make a budget

The first thing to do is make a road trip budget. What will you spend money on, and how much will these things cost? You need food, but there isn’t much variety in prices at gas station convenience stores.

So if you’re taking a road trip with someone, look at their diet and figure out where the cheapest grocery store is near your route. Is it worth buying candy bars or chips for $2 each instead of $5-$8 for sandwiches?

Look up hotel prices before you leave so you can plan an affordable place to stop every night or two (don’t forget about camping costs). If you don’t want to pay for hotels, look at Airbnb options for cheaper rates than hotels, especially if you have four people splitting the cost.

If you have a bigger budget, it’s also possible to go on a road trip that lasts for weeks or months without staying in hotels every night. You can do what’s called “stealth parking,” which means you find out-of-the-way rest stops and accessible camping areas where you can pull over your car and sleep with some degree of safety.

However, this takes a big chunk of change upfront because most cars won’t run for more than 300 miles without needing a fill-up–which is about a quarter tank in most vehicles.

Do research

It is important to research stealth camping locations before your trip is a good idea if you want to save money on hotels and generally be more at ease with resting where you won’t get arrested or towed.

Sites like PitchUp help find free places to stay globally, including many U.S. states. You can also check out your national or state park’s website for information about stealth camping–you may find that some areas allow it but don’t advertise this fact.

Rent a vehicle

When going for a road trip, renting a vehicle is much cheaper compared to using public transport. It’s therefore important to look for reliable car hire services with the best quote.

Peter Mann the managing director of rent-vehicles.co.uk says that renting a vehicle not only saves your money but time as well.

Take advantage of discounts

This brings me to another point: take advantage of discounts and deals wherever necessary. Some people have been able to get discounts while doing their cross-country road trips which saved them over $20 on gas every time they filled their car up.


Spending money on entertainment while traveling is one of the easiest ways to blow your budget. Find free activities in each area you visit instead of spending money on attractions that cost extra cash.

Try visiting museums for free, walking through city parks, staying by lakes and rivers with friends, or finding local music events to enjoy without having to pay for them.


Cooking your food is a great way to save money while traveling. Find grocery stores in the area where you are going, and stock up on ingredients for meals before leaving.

If there aren’t many options available to buy groceries, bring your snacks so you can have something during stops along the road trip. Not only will this save you money, but it will also allow you to eat healthily.


Driving your car is the cheapest way to travel, which means that keeping gas costs low can help keep your expenses down when hitting the road. Try and drive as little as possible during each trip if at all possible to reduce fuel consumption.


There are plenty of ways to find lodging while on a road trip for cheap or free. You can sleep in the car if you have enough room, camp at designated areas along your route, stay with friends and family members who aren’t using their rooms, rent out a private house through Airbnb, use hotel points from credit cards, or stay at a cheap motel.

Staying Connected

Technology makes everything easier, including tracking your expenses when on the road. You can use an app like Mint that will allow you to monitor how much money is being spent by category throughout each day, week, month, and year, so you know exactly where to cut back.


Bringing your lunch with you is easy to save money while on the road. Not only will this allow you to eat healthily, but it can also keep costs down if eating out for every meal isn’t within the budget.

If bringing a lunch seems like too much work, do what many others do and hit up a convenience store or gas station for items that are quick to eat.

Pack Light

Bringing too much stuff when you go on road trips can be an easy way to spend more money than necessary, so it pays off to pack light if possible. Check out the weather ahead of time to know what clothing to bring, and travel with only the necessities.


Planning out what activities you want to take part in before hitting the road can be a great way to keep your expenses down while traveling. If you must check off certain attractions or events on your list during each trip, plan, so they don’t cost any extra money.

As you can see, there are many ways to keep your expenses down on the road. If you want to ensure that this will not be an expensive trip for you and your family, these tips should help.

To save as much money as possible without sacrificing happiness or fun, everyone in the car must agree on some ground rules before they start driving.

For example,  how long people have been awake and whether or not specific snacks will be allowed during any given leg of the journey, so no one has a meltdown due to hunger.

And if anyone does happen to get hangry, at least we know what kind of snack works best for solving those issues 🙂 Happy travels!