Have you ever planned to spend $200 on a road trip, only to spend twice that when it’s all said and done?
From car rental costs to lodging, expenses add up on the road and budget overruns are common. The best way to save money on a road trip is to plan ahead—and plan out everything. Know the best routes to take, the cheapest states for gas refills, and the difference between necessity and luxury. Resist the temptation of impulse shopping for souvenirs and other unnecessary memorabilia.
1. Choose your car wisely. Remember: The bigger the car, the more expensive it will be. If you’re not desperate for leg room, go with a two-door economy car or four-door sedan. Stay away from SUVs and minivans unless absolutely necessary. If you cut down on size, you’ll also cut down on fuel expenses—perhaps by 20 percent or more.
2. Use GPS to your advantage. GPS devices have many advantages. Not only will they provide the fastest route—minimizing your fuel costs—but they also allow you to plan where to eat and pump gas for cheap. Map out your stops ahead of time to find the best deals on lunch, drinks, gas, and other expenses.
NOTE: Stick to your route! The more you deviate, the more tempted you’ll be to impulse shop and overspend.
3. Drive slower. Driving near the speed limit uses gas more efficiently than zooming 100 miles per hour. It also protects you from pricy speeding tickets. A single speeding ticket—which costs $150 on average—can kill your budget in a matter of minutes. Added bonus: If you drive slower, you’ll have more time to take in the sights and remember the landmarks on your journey.