How To Save Money On Your Next Big Road Trip

Last updated on September 2nd, 2021 at 08:33 am. Originally published on August 18th, 2015

The American road trip is a right of passage for many families. But with rising costs it takes some planning.

Hotels are hard on the wallet, and so are meals, fuel and attractions. So how can a family enjoy the great American road trip without spending an arm and a leg?

Here are 10 tips for the savings savvy road trip:


Colorado River Adventure

1. A Bigger Car Can Save You Money

Believe it or not, the smaller the car, the more a road trip will cost you. While larger vehicles eat more gas, they make up for the expense by allowing you to bring extra items. Camping supplies, snacks and a cooler will end up saving you more than you will spend on fuel.

2. Along The Way

Tent camping or boondocking (if you have an RV) will save you a bundle. The average hotel for a family of four will cost $100 a night. Compare that to a $15 tent site and the savings adds up pretty quickly. Boondocking will save you even more. You can park at Walmarts and many rest areas for free. Over the course of a few nights this can be a huge savings.

3. Pack Your Own Food

Burgers and fries get old fast. No one wants to eat out for every meal, and locating a restaurant in a strange town can be stressful. Instead, fill your cooler with fresh, healthy alternatives. Plan to picnic as you travel with fresh sandwiches, salads, fruits and veggies. Got a snack attack? Bring your favorites with you. Try limiting eating out to one meal a day. This will save you both time and money

4. Visit Free Roadside Attractions

There are thousands of free roadside attractions across America. Plan your trip around them. Visit the largest ball of twine or the biggest Jersey cow. Drive through ghost towns or follow the yellow brick road. Find ways to make your trip interactive and involve the entire family. Not only will you save money, you will save your sanity!

5. Check Your Car Before You Leave

Change your oil, rotate your tires, and have a complete vehicle check up before you hit the road. Unexpected repairs can be expensive. Don’t wait for something to ruin your trip. Spend the money ahead of time and save a bundle in the long run.

6. Cut Coupons

Look for coupon booklets inside cafes and gas stations along the way. These booklets often offer two for one deals on everything from hotels to meals and attractions. The savings for a family of four can really add up.

7. Use A Gas App

A gas app helps you head straight for the cheapest gas! Don’t waste time and energy wondering where to stop. Gas Apps will show you the best prices before you get there.

8. Plan Ahead

Know your route, the attractions, best places to eat, and stay before you leave. Driving around looking for facilities wastes money and adds frustration to the trip. Have a master plan and follow it.

9. Join an Auto Club

Allstate, Farmers and AAA all offer roadside assistance programs at a low, low, rate. If you run out of gas, get a flat, or need to be towed, an auto club can be a lifesaver! Be sure to start your membership prior to leaving on your road trip.

10. Pick Your Priorities

Decide ahead of time where you want to spend your money. If you want cash for Disneyland then plan to save money on your trip down and back. If your priority is gourmet food, then skimp on lodging and attractions. Whatever you pick make sure that it’s important to the whole family. That way your road trip is sure to be a success.



If you are traveling with children, make sure you explain to them when and where you will be spending money. If they’re old enough, let them help you stretch the family budget by calculating your gas mileage and expenses. Get the whole family involved and make it a game.

What other ways can you save money on a road trip? Add your thoughts in the comment box below, then share this article with your friends!

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