Cutting Down on Your Road Trip Costs

For families and lovers of the American road, a road trip is a great idea. Some of us older people set out with goals of summoning Steinbeck or Kerouac, in search of the heart of America. Others are just looking to see a few cool places while saving on the costs of airfare.

Whatever the case, if you are going to head out on a major road trip, you probably want to save a buck or two. These trips can be budget savers as long as you plan ahead and think about what you’re doing. Here are some tips for keeping your road trip costs down.

How to Save on Gas

Avoid gas stations in cities and around national parks. Gas prices will naturally ebb and flow. You’ll want to road trip when the prices are at their lowest. What you’ll find, however, is that gas is consistently higher in cities and around major national landmarks. If you want to keep those costs down, then you should fuel up in the suburbs.

Go into New York City looking for gas and you’ll pay almost a dollar more than you might have surrendered in outlying New Jersey. If you can be diligent in your fill-up efforts, you’ll save major cash over the course of a trip.

Make your Own Meals

Carry a cooler and make your own meals. Fast food and roadside restaurants might not seem like a major expense. They really add up if you’re not careful, though. If you are a group of five, that fast food stop will add up to $40 or $50 if you’re not careful. You’ll be much better off carrying a cooler and buying some sandwich meat.

Enjoy fruit and healthy snacks. In addition to saving money, you will have a healthier trip and feel better about yourself.

Camping in National Forests is Free

If your road trip includes camping, then try to find places where you won’t have to pay. National parks can charge $20 or $30 in some cases for entry and overnight camping. National forests, however, provide free camping and parking for those who are looking to save money.

While these forests might not have the broad appeal of a Yosemite or Yellowstone, they can help you save money while giving you an opportunity for a bit of seclusion.

Check Your Vehicle before You Go

You should invest time – and maybe some money – into vehicle maintenance before hitting the road. It is much cheaper to get those new brake pads, for instance, than to experience an accident or failure out on the highway.

Invest in Roadside Assistance Service

The more you drive, the greater your chances of running into a roadside incident. So even if you invested in vehicle maintenance, incidents may happen.

In such a case, carrying AAA protection can be extremely helpful. AAA Road Service helps you in an emergency when your vehicle becomes disabled. The service is also a good protection if you happen to run out of gas, lock your keys in your vehicle, or have a dead battery.

You can also get this protection from your auto insurance company. GEICO’s Emergency Road Service, as an example, offers the same protection and help you with these hassles and inconveniences. Progressive also has a rroadside assistance program you can add to your police. Just to mention a few.

Whatever service you choose, it is a good idea to invest in some kind of road assistance protection when you are away from home. Being stranded somewhere is no fun, and towing costs can become expensive, adding a lot to your overall road trip costs.

If something happens on the road, you’ll be glad that you spent a little bit of money up front in order to avoid those gnarly charges.

Photo: CGP Grey