Without a doubt, road trips can be the experience of a lifetime. Even Hollywood has made endless films about the adventure, good times and occasional memorable misfortunes of a planned, or indeed unplanned road trip. In fact, when you think ‘road trip’ you may conjure up thoughts of famous films like Little Miss Sunshine, National Lampoon’s Vacation or even Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.
But don’t be fooled, a road trip can be somewhat of a rough ride. Especially when you consider the rising prices of crucial elements such as food, accommodation and fuel.
So, in this article we take you on a smooth journey to discover our top tips in making your road trip a budget experience.
After gathering your favored companions, the next up on the road trip checklist will certainly be your mode of transport. Of course, this option can be anything from a bus to a push bike, in fact anything that can zip along a road at a reasonable speed is ideal for road trips. However, the most popular option for road trips are indeed cars.
If you own and run a car for other purposes, it will almost certainly be most affordable to use this vehicle for your road trip. In other situations where you need to get your hands on a vehicle, buying, taxing and insuring a car can be a bad option. Alternatively, using a cheap rental car can save you a lot of money, using websites such as Travel Supermarket can give you the best prices based on your requirements.
When picking a car you must consider a number of aspects. If you plan on sleeping in the car, or even spending a long period of time in it, does it have enough space and is it comfortable enough? Going for the smallest or cheapest vehicle isn’t always the best option. However, It is also worth checking the car maintenance cost as well as the fuel efficiency as this will drastically impact your budget in terms of fuel costs for your trip.
If you fancy the potential of making new friends, another popular and possibly the cheapest option available is to use a car sharing community. For example, Liftshare in the UK allows you to meet others going on similar/the same journey as you and split the costs.
When the goings good
Like most things in life, not all fuel stations are created equal. If you follow the tips in this article, it is likely that topping off the tank will be the biggest cost of your journey and getting the best deal can go a long way to saving you money.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you are not paying over the odds when it comes to picking up the pump. Firstly, do some research before you go on average fuel prices in the locations you are visiting. When you spot a station that is on or below the average price, it is likely you are getting a good deal, so be sure to stop to top off.
Do not wait until you are running in the red, as this means you will HAVE to pay the going price at the next stop, as a general rule as you go below half a tank start looking for a good deal. What you can also do is to look for special mobile apps for drivers which can help you not only plan your trip, but also find yourself in a new place and save money on gas.
A few basics = a big saving
Eating on the road can cost a fortune. With inflated prices being very common in places that see a lot of traffic. Packing a few essentials such as cutlery, plates, bowls, cups and a chopping board means you can buy much cheaper food at local supermarkets and prepare it out of the back of your car.
Ever been stung by local garage costs? You may be surprised to know that the majority of faults with cars are preventable or fixable with just a little bit of knowledge. By regularly checking aspects of your car such as oil levels and tire pressure, as well as learning to make basic repairs like changing a bulb or a wheel you can save yourself a lot of cash.
Ditch the glitz
We all love the idea of waking up in a luxurious hotel room, fresh sheets, room service and bottles of champagne on ice. But if you’re looking to travel on a budget, getting your accommodation as cheap as possible (or even free) will keep more money in your pocket.
So, ditch the luxury hotel in favor of something a little more bank balance friendly. Of course, there are varying scales of doing this:
- Basic rooms in budget hotels
- Shared dorms in hostels
- Sleeping in the car
- Sleeping on a bench (not recommended)
Choosing which option fits you best is a case of your required levels of comfort. Picking the cheapest option is not necessarily the best, take into consideration the quality of sleep you will need to continue operating a vehicle day-to-day.
It is clear that road trips can be a lot of fun. What can make them even more fun is not having to pay off mountains of debt when they come to an end. Just taking a few aspects into consideration and being a savvy spender means that they can easily be made into budget experiences. Leaving you free to have fun rather than worry about cash.
About the Author:
Giles Kirkland is a car mechanic at Oponeo with a great passion for anything automotive. When he’s not busy tinkering with cars, he likes to hit the road and explore the countryside with his girlfriend. While traveling he enjoys improvising and finding new money saving hacks. Also, he is keen on blogging and sharing ideas with auto and motorcycle enthusiasts across the globe.