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According to AAA, nearly 80% of American families plan on hitting the road at some point during the year. And according to MMGY Global’s 2017-18 Portrait of American Travelers,  39% percent of vacations taken by United States travelers were comprised of road trips. This was a large spike compared to the year prior, proving that the Great American Road Trip is well and thriving!

Whether you’re traveling with friends or taking your family for a fun journey, a road trip is a great way to experience American nature and attractions. And fortunately, road trips accomodate all types of budgets, whether you like a little luxury travel or prefer to save as much money as possible. With that in mind, here are five great money-saving tips for your next road trip:


Plan Your Trip Ahead of Time

This might seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one that’s often ignored. Planning your trip in advance allows you to map out an exact route that’s best in terms of mileage and conveniences along that route. You’ll have a better understanding of what sights are along the way, which road has better scenery, and what food options are available along the journey. Take advantage of apps like RoadTrippers, TripIt, or Furkot. These road planning tools not only help keep your trip organized in one area, and also will you about attractions, restaurants, lodging options, and everything that’s along the way.

Pack Snacks & Bottled Water

Snacking on a road trip is a part of the road trip ritual. It helps keep you fueled between meals, especially during long journeys. However, you’ll notice that stopping for snacks at convenience stores and gas stations quickly eats away at your budget. The same applies to bottled water. Before your trip, stop at a bulk grocery store, like Costco, Sam’s Club, or Big Lots. Stock up on water and snacks, and you’ll pay a fraction of the price you’d pay by buying them as you go.

Look for Free Accommodations

If you plan ahead, there are several ways you can score free accommodation. Normally, you’d have to plan your overnight stops accordingly, determining which hotels you’d like to stay in. However, there are plenty of free camping spots across the country that you can take advantage of. If you’re looking for a quick rest overnight, truck stops are a safe bet, as they can also accommodate RVs and campers—and you’ll likely meet some interesting people while you’re there. There are also cheap RV parking areas, too.


Lastly, Couchsurfing is a great resource for meeting people along your journey. Stay with people around the world for free. This might seem intimidating for people who have not used the platform, but you’ll be able to read reviews from other travelers, and generally speaking, the majority of users are very happy with Couchsurfing.

Use Money Saving Apps

Gas Apps like Gas Guru and Gas Buddy can help point you in the direction of the closest gas station with the lowest prices. After all, during a road trip, gas is easily one of the biggest expenses you’ll incur. These apps are updated by other users who are stopping at those gas stations, and are often very accurate.

Additionally, there are food apps that can help you save money, too. Ibotta, Groupon, and TravelZoo are great options for saving some money on nearby dining options. It’s not uncommon to log into Groupon and find that you can get a dinner for two at least 25% to 35% less than you would without it. You can also download mobile restaurant apps on the fly. For example, if you’re near a McDonalds, why not open the McDonalds app to score deals on meals?

Plan for Emergencies

The last thing you want to do during a road trip is to find yourself in an unexpected emergency situation. For example, you might have an issue with your engine or oil. If you don’t create a buffer of cash to prepare for emergency situations, you could find yourself in some trouble. After all, no road trip is perfect, and bumps along the road—however big or small—are likely. Generally speaking, 20% of the cost of your overall trip is a solid buffer for unexpected occurrences.


Additionally, choosing a great insurance plan, preferably one that’s specific to RVs and mobile homes, can help you avoid a disaster that you don’t have the money for. For more info on RV-specific insurance plans, click here, https://www.goodsamesp.com/motorhome-warranties/.

Author: Bryan

Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won't let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.

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