Ways To Take A Road Trip In Style (And Stay Under Budget)
Road trips have been big this year. After watching celebrity campaigns and even Rebel Wilson and Keegan-Michael Key’s getting their road trip on for Booking.com, many people have been inspired to climb in the car and tour America’s backyard. And the good news is that it can be fun and affordable.
Don’t have the time or the money for a big vacation this summer? That might not necessarily be true. There are plenty of ways to hit the road in style and stay under budget. Now that gas prices are down and renting a reliable vehicle can be cheap and easy, there’s no reason not to check out the sites just a few states away. And traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to cut corners by riding with strangers or staying in budget hotels.
Follow these creative road trip tips and you can make your own Instagrammable getaway for a ridiculously reasonable price.
Rent a Car
Have no car or want to avoid putting extra miles on your own? Rent a car. Shop around ahead of time and depending on where you live, you can find a rental for as little as $15 a day. Rent with some major credit cards and they’ll cover the insurance for you.
Have a little more money to split with friends? Rent a luxury car to hit the road in style.
Upgrade Your Snacks
Budget traveling doesn’t have to mean gas station food. Assign each person riding along the responsibility of making one of these adorable snacks that travel well. You can munch well on the road and decrease your number of pit stops.
Rent an RV
If the idea of staying at a budget hotel gives you the heebie-jeebies, consider renting an RV. They have lots of luxury models that — between a few travelers — can run about the same rate as a cheap hotel per day. And they can also provide you with a mobile kitchen and control over how clean things are inside.
Rack Up Points
Use a credit card that gives you extra points or cash back for money spent on gas, car rentals or hotel stays, then offer to charge everything on the trip and have your friends pay you back. You will make it easier to deal with all of the bills incurred — and you can earn some of your money back when you get home.
If nature is your thing, think about camping as your lodging. For many areas, camp sites only charge you around $10 or $20 for the entire group. You can use the money you save on hotels to splurge on luxury camping gear. Score.
Create a Budget Ahead of Time
It can be tempting to just get in the car and go, but road trip costs have a habit of adding up — if you don’t have a plan. Know how much to spend before you hit the road.
Save on Gas
Even when gas prices are relatively low, paying for a few full tanks can be pricey. One way to save is with an app that tracks the lowest gas prices near you. Then, try these techniques to lower your gas costs while you’re on the road.
Don’t Stay “Wherever”
When you have loose plans, stopping whenever you get tired of driving sounds nice. But you can actually save a lot by shopping around for the cheapest hotels online — and save yourself some grief by reading the ratings before you check in.
Go to Free Destinations
Historical locations belong on your bucket list, and they’re often free or have a nominal entrance fee.
Drive by the Drive-Through
Look for mom-and-pop places that you might find along the way. You could stumble upon a hidden gem that your photos help to make Instagram famous.
Try a Train Pass
If you have a lot of sightseeing that you want to do but you don’t want to drive, try a more classic form of transportation. Rail passes can cost just a few hundred and they let you hop on and off of cross-country trains for 15-day, 30-day and even longer trips. And the photos you will get from this form of a road trip will be amazing.
It’s an even cheaper alternative than some hostels, and your host may be able to give you the scoop on local hot spots.
Avoid the Major Holidays
Gas prices go up, car rental prices surge and hotel prices increase. For the best rates, travel during non-vacation days and avoid major events when travel destinations aren’t so expensive to get to.