5 Ways to Stretch Your Budget on a USA Road Trip
Road trips are super popular right now, offering the chance to explore vast areas at your own pace, while avoiding costly flights. It’s an adventurous alternative to the traditional trip, but it still pays to be prepared. The cost of being on the road can creep up if you’re not careful. Here are five suggestions to help you make the most of your money while you’re away.
You might not want to do this for the whole trip, but a couple of nights here and there could significantly reduce your hotel expenditure. There are plenty of great camping spots around the US, so it’s definitely worth having a browse to see if you can make them work on your route. Pack a tent, a couple of sleeping bags and a camping stove, and you’re good to go. For a campsite with a view, try the Grand Canyon National Park or Memaloose State Park in Oregon.
Pack a snack
Gas station stops can start to add up if you’re buying snacks here and there every time. An easy way to avoid this is simply to bring as much as you can with you. Items that won’t spoil in a hot car are good – such as nuts and seeds, popcorn, dried fruit, and celery dipped in peanut butter. You could even bring a cool bag with some fruit, hummus, cheese sticks and yogurt. Plenty of bottled water is an absolute must, and another good idea is to bring your own teabags and a travel mug, which you can fill with hot water at hotels and restaurants.
Make Free Stops
There will be plenty of sights and activities that you will want to see and experience on your route, but not all of them have to be costly. Beaches, galleries, museums, flea markets, music events – many of these are either free or low-cost. Flea markets are also fabulous venues to pick up unique and interesting souvenirs, so be sure to seek them out along the way. Free music and small town festivals can be found all over the place, and offer a certain local charm. Try the festivals.com directory to see which take your fancy
If you’re into biking, be sure to check out our previous post on the Top 5 Bike Riding Places in the USA – another fab free activity that will give you a different perspective on a place to simply driving through it.
Search for Deals
This applies both before you go, and while you’re on the trip. Rocking up to a hotel without a booking, for example, almost always guarantees the most expensive rate. For last minute hotel deals, it is always worth checking online or getting a travel agent to check for you. Likewise when it comes to eating out, look online or in local newspapers for vouchers and coupons, and you could save yourself a pretty penny when it all adds up. If you know the name of the place you want to try, even checking their social media pages can yield unexpected offers – or try googling the name along with ‘discount’ to see what comes up. For chains such as Chili’s and Olive Garden, you can get as much as 30 percent off using GiftCardGranny.
Gas is likely to be one of the most significant expenditures on your trip. So when you’re trying to keep costs down, there are various ways to optimise and save on your fuel usage. Prices have risen in the last year, but it can vary from station to station, so one way to search for the best prices in your local area is to use a directory like GasBuddy.com.
Before leaving, if you’re using your own car, get it checked over and ensure you have the optimum tire pressure and tread for all those miles you’ll be packing in. Alternatively if you’re renting a car, try to get one that is highly fuel-efficient, such as a hybrid. Packing lightly to reduce weight will help you to save, as will driving at the correct speed and avoiding rapid acceleration or sudden braking. Planning your route to avoid toll roads will save you several dollars here and there as well – it all adds up.
In short, you don’t need to spend a fortune to see and do some amazing things. With some careful planning, clever packing and useful apps, you can save yourself a bundle.
Have you ever taken a road trip in the USA? What advice would you give for those about to embark on their own?