Save on Summer Road Trips

By Megan Capone      

Money’s tight for a lot of us these days, so instead of grandiose family vacations of the past many of us are going with road trips. Sure, it might not be the vacation you’ve dreamed about, but you might just find that you can have tons of fun on the road. And there’s a lot you can do with less nowadays. Here are some of our suggestions for saving a buck or two on your summer road trip.

Transportation

Consider a Rental

  • If your car isn’t big, comfortable, economical or reliable enough to for a road trip you might want to consider a rental. But if you’re concerned about the cost, you might be surprised at how affordable a rental can be – especially at some great travel savings sites like Budget, Payless Car Rentaland Avis.
  • Just say no to extra insurance on that rental, though. Check out your credit card benefits - most credit cards provide enough insurance to get you by.

Save on Gas

  • You can even save money on gas. Many credit cards offer valuable points (often double or triple) on gas purchases.
  • Make the most of your gas mileage by keeping the tires at the right pressure, pack as light as possible and avoid packing stuff on top of your car – the wind resistance can wreak havoc on your gas mileage.
  • Be sure to choose the highway or freeway over the back roads – you’ll get more out of your gas that way.

Lodging

  • The cheapest type of lodging is probably camping, and if you’ve got kids – even better. Most campgrounds have a lot of activities that are great for the kids.
  • Youth hostels are affordable and great if you’re young and interested in meeting others your age and are cool with sharing a bathroom and bunking with others. 
  • You can also check travel deal websites for great deals on hotel or motels rooms - like Priceline, Hotels.com, Hotelopia, Hotwire and even TripAdvisor

Food

Food is often the most expensive part of traveling. Eating out three meals a day can be very costly.

  • Be sure to pack snacks and fill a cooler with water and drinks from home.
  • If staying at a hotel look for one that offers a free breakfast and/or a kitchenette so that you can cook your own food.
  • If you have to go out (I mean it’s part of the trip, right!?) check out Dealfind.com, Groupon, Living Social, Eversave, Plum District and other local deals sites and you could save a bundle on your dinners out.
  • You could also score some free grub during a local happy hour where you are. Where to find one? Search for “free happy hour” on yelp or other food discussion board.

Activities

They don’t call them tourist traps for nothing! Tourist attractions can be very expensive. But there are many ways to save money on attractions.

  • Be sure to pick up any touristy brochures you find in the hotel lobby or local chamber of commerce – you just might find a few coupons to help save money on those can’t-miss attractions.
  • Before you leave on your trip do a little research and search around before you leave. You might be able to find local attractions on the daily deal sites listed above.
  • Google the local paper to see what’s going on locally, you’re bound to find free festivals, performances and even games from local sports teams.