Hitting the open road is a great way many of us enjoy spending our summer vacations, though costs can add up in a hurry. Here are a few ways to make the most from your pre planned budget and save money so you can take an extended road trip without spending a fortune or creating unnecessary debt.
Fix Up Your Car
Before leaving, make sure your car is in running A-1 . Get an oil change, check your tires and ensure they’re properly inflated and top off all those fluids. If your car needs anything, get it done now so you won’t be at the mercy of the nearest mechanic, when you’re on the road.
If your insurance comes with roadside assistance, find out what exactly it covers and if there are any additional costs or things you should know about. If you don’t already have roadside assistance, an AAA membership can be purchased for less than it would cost to pay for your car to be towed, and you can sign up when you call for roadside assistance. Check your vehicles paperwork, your car may already come with some type of roadside assistance.
Do some research and find all of the rest stops and 24-hour gas stations along your route, that way you can plan stops and gas fill-ups. You can also check Gas Buddy for the lowest gas prices and time your trip to stop where gas is the best bang for the buck.
Sleep on the Cheap
Sleeping under the stars can be a magical experience — and it’s one of the cheapest options besides staying in your car, especially if you cook your own meals over a campfire instead of eating in restaurants every night. And don’t worry … you can opt for cabins or luxury tent camps if you’d rather not be swotting away mosquitoes all night. Camping is a great choice for anyone seeking a digital/social detox. A campfire beneath the night sky can be relaxing and mesmerizing — you won’t miss your TV or tablet. And you can’t beat a perfectly toasted marshmallow as a bedtime snack. Cooking a meal over a camp stove or fire, washing dishes in a bucket, waking up to rain-soaked sleeping bags — those who choose camping should be open to doing without a few comforts and conveniences.
If you’re not up for roughing it, look for bed and breakfasts and motels along your route. Book in advance so you won’t be stuck if the rooms fill up(especially major holidays). As always, look for coupons and discounts to save the most money. Trip Advisor can give you a list of hotels by location with pricing. You can also book through a third party website like Priceline to get a bigger discount.
You can also check out Couchsurfing.org to find free couches to sleep on during your road trip.
Swapping houses with another traveler is an ideal way to enjoy the comforts of home while traveling — and it’s practically free. To become a member of a home exchange network, you’ll typically pay an annual fee that costs about as much as a night in a hotel room, so after the first couple of nights of your vacation, your membership has paid for itself and then some. Learn more in Home Exchange: A How-To Guide. All the conveniences of home kitchen with all the gadgets, laundry with detergent, Wi-Fi — and usually a location away from tourist traps and traffic. Sounds like a great idea doesn’t it?
(THE DOWNSIDE) There’s always that chance something “might happen” — power outage, burst pipe, the homeowner’s angry ex banging on the door at 2 a.m. — and there’s no one around to take responsibility except you (Not typical lol) . Home exchange isn’t for the worried traveler: Will I break something? Will they trash my house? Am I safe in their home? Is my grandmother’s china safe in my home? If these concerns keep you up at night, sleep in a hotel.
Eat on the Cheap
Bring a cooler with snacks and easy to make meals like sandwich meat and bread, chopped veggies & fruit so you can avoid eating out as much as possible. Buy these items at a grocery store and not a convenience store to save money.
When you do eat out, make sure to check Trip Advisor, Yelp ahead of time and other review websites to see about pricing and overall quality Find coupons for local restaurants on Groupon, Living Social and Restaurant.com to find additional savings. Restaurant.com often has 80% off sales where you can get a $25 gift certificate for only $2 bucks. This can potentially save you a bundle, so please check it out.
Drive Safe and have fun,
McKee Bros -Cumberland Rhode Island