There’s no better way to celebrate the changing seasons than by taking a road trip. While driving to your destination can be much cheaper than flying, there are multiple expenses to keep in mind while planning a road trip. We’re sharing some of our favorite money-saving tips so you can plan a road trip on a budget without sacrificing any of the fun.

How Much Does a Typical Road Trip Cost?

The price of your road trip will depend on a few different variables, including:

  • Destination. The region you choose to explore will have an impact on your total expenses. Some places, like popular cities, are more expensive than others, and gas prices also vary by destination.
  • Distance. The further you travel, the more frequently you’ll need to stop for gas. Your gas mileage might be lower if you’re driving in a heavy car and going faster than usual. To get a rough idea of how much you’ll be spending on gas, just calculate your total mileage, divide it by your miles per gallon, and multiply by price per gallon.
  • Family size. Your road trip budget will likely increase for every additional person in your party.
  • Lodging. Whether you stay at a campground, or a hotel will affect the price of your road trip. Staying in an RV is a great way to save money, but you might have to spend more on gas. If you know where you’re staying ahead of time, you can factor the price of your stay into your budget.
  • Food. You don’t want to be hungry on the road, so make sure to leave ample space in your budget for food supplies. Packing a cooler full of food will be cheaper than eating multiple meals out each day. You can estimate your food budget by calculating the cost of what you usually eat in a day, adding some extra dollars for flexibility, and multiplying by the number of days on your trip.

Family packing car - how to road trip on a budget

How to Save Money on the Road

Doing a little preparation before you hit the road is the best way to ensure your road trip is budget-friendly.

Set a Budget

Creating a realistic budget and sticking to it helps prevent overspending. There are multiple apps for travelers out there, so try downloading one to keep track of all your past and future expenses. In addition, decide what your travel priorities are ahead of time so you can splurge on what’s important to you. For example: Are you the kind of traveler who prefers to sink their money into accommodations or restaurants?

Prepare Your Vehicle

While spending a little extra dough on gas during a road trip is inevitable, you can minimize your gas consumption by checking that your tires are inflated and keeping your cargo light before you hit the road.

Look for Free Activities

There are plenty of free activities that deserve a spot on your road trip itinerary. Exploring the outdoors is a great option, and you can find other free attractions in your area by looking online or stopping by the local visitor center.

Avoid Holidays

Traveling during a slow season is a great way to save money and avoid crowded attractions. Hotels and restaurants often increase their prices during the holidays, and increased traffic will eat up fuel and add to your overall travel time.

Find Affordable Gas

Apps like Gas Buddy help you locate affordable gas in your area and save you money over the course of your road trip. You can also type “gas” into the search bar on Google Maps and see nearby gas options and prices. In general, it’s wise to avoid gas stations just off the interstate, as they can be more expensive than other stations.

Make Sure You’re Covered

Don’t hit the road without quality insurance! If you run into any emergencies, having a plan with comprehensive coverage and roadside assistance can help you stay safe. The General has a range of different policies for every driver, regardless of driving record or credit score. You can get a car insurance quote in under two minutes or visit our blog to explore more articles about travel and budgeting.