When you hear advice from a travel agent, you pay…
When planning out my summer I realized that I had two trips that I really wanted to take, but a bank account balance that would only allow for one. With airline tickets to most common destinations starting at around $400-$450, I knew that I’d have to find another way to get to where I wanted to go. I considered driving to one of my destinations but the thought of spending 15+ hours in a car quickly made my head spin.
After I got my bearings back and re-checked my bank account to confirm two flights were out of the question, the idea of driving crept back into my mind and with it, the idea of how much money I’d be saving by doing it. Then I remembered how travel time to the airport, waiting to board your flight, flying time, lay over/plane switch, getting your bags, and the drive from the airport to your destination, can sometimes add up to be longer than it would have taken you to drive- not to mention exhausting. And you don’t have to be stuck in security lines, forced to purchase overpriced coffee, or run the risk of getting sick before you even arrive at your destination.
So I decided to treat my drive as part of the adventure, not something I had to get through to get to my destination. And you know what? I had a great time while also saving a ton of money. Here are a few tips how you can save money on your next roadtrip:
I dragged my boyfriend along for the ride, which was great because I love him BUT also because he split gas with me. Friends can also make great road trip/gas splitting partners. And if you still have an extra seat in your car, you can actually slash your gas budget in half by picking up a passenger via Zimride or posting an ad on Craigslist. Also, if you look at it like you’re helping the environment, which you are, it can make you feel pretty great about yourself.
I have a hybrid so we decided it would be more economical to take my car for the trip. If you don’t have the option of using a hybrid do a quick Google search to find out what car in your party gets the best fuel economy and take it. Learn how to optimize gas by researching driving techniques – brake less, don’t speed, and use cruise control, all of these little moves really add up at the pump. And be sure to download a great app like GasBuddy that will help you find the cheapest gas near you at any given time.
One way to avoid jacking up the cost of your road trip on fast food is to pack food. If you stop for snacks or food every time you’re hungry before you know it you’ve spent $50 on food and you feel like crap. Pack a bunch of PB&J’s, cut veggies and fruit, nuts, chips, and then leave room for one meal along the way- because let’s be honest, what’s a good road trip with out some junk food? Also – bring a refillable water jugs. Anywhere you stop is going to let you refill for free and it’s good to stay hydrated while you travel.
CAMP OUT AND REACH OUT
If your total driving time is more than 15 hours chances are you’re going to need to sleep somewhere along the way. Roadside motels can be disgusting- let alone pricey so why do that when there are tons of cheap or free options for places to crash? Hit up any friends or relatives you have that live somewhere along your route that you can stay with. Or join the “global community” of CouchSurfer and find a unique place to stay the night for free. You can also pack camping gear and stop at a camp site off your path for under 20 bucks at most US camp sites.
This might not save you money, but it will save you your sanity. Split up your driving into shifts. If your drive is 12 hours then split up the drive into four 3 hour shifts. It really helps with making time pass quicker and it gives you an excuse to get out and stretch, use the restroom, or fill up gas in a timely manner.
Whitney Teubner is a writer based out of Los Angeles. She has written for the Adult Swim network and enjoys outdoor activities preferable with dogs and or babies involved. Follow her on Twitter @Whitneyteubs