How To Plan Road Trip Vacations On A Budget

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8 tips for organizing road trip vacations without breaking the bank

Going on a road trip can get quite expensive. Between stopping for gas, then going into the buildings to get lunch, drinks, and anything else you may want, you can easily spend $75 with each stop. More if you have more than four people traveling in your group. You then get to your destination and the thought of coming home with any money goes out the window. In August, I went to Tennessee to see the Solar Eclipse with my son and his girlfriend. Here is how you can enjoy your road trip vacations on a Budget.

Road Trip Vacations Sculpture
Sculpture at Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, Nashville, TN.

1 – Car Food and Drinks

Do your shopping before going on vacation. Buy food, snacks, and drinks to keep in the car. If you must go into the rest area, go only with the intention of using the restrooms and maybe buying a large cup of ice for your drinks for the next stretch of your road trip. Stop at a convenience store for ice to load up your cooler to keep lunch meat, cheese, yogurt, fruits and drinks cold. Yes, I said yogurt and fruits! No reason not to eat healthy while you’re on the road! Grapes, Blueberries, and Strawberries are some of the better options for travel.

2 – Where to find the best Gas Prices is a great resource for planning your road trip schedule! You can choose one-way trip or round trip. Adding stops along the way is no challenge for it either. It will list out the prices for gas from point A and point B.

3 – Avoid Tolls If You Can

When you go to map out your trip, set it up to avoid tolls. This is a two-part bonus.

    • One, you’re saving money on tolls.
    • Two, you may find some new destination that you want to travel to later. Or, if you’re in no rush, stop and see it then!

Depending on your destination, this may add an hour to your trip, or, as I found when I went to Tennessee on my road trip, it cut off twenty minutes.

Road Trip Vacations Map
Waze Live Time Traffic of Los Angeles 9/21/17 5:45 pm EST.

4 – Don’t buy that GPS

There are many free apps that you can install to your phone that will get you to where you want to go.  My favorite is Waze. It got me out of more traffic than I could have hoped for!

5 – Money Saving Apps

Groupon and Living Social were my go to apps in looking for deals for my road trip. Just put in the locations you’re going to stop at and purchase what you need. If you’re not sure where you want to stop, make sure to check them out when you do stop. You can still get great last-minute deals.

Road Trip Vacations
Amenities offered at Days Inn at East Airport in Nashville, TN

6 – Meals at the Hotel

When we went to Tennessee, we brought extra food. Our hotel happened to have a fridge and a microwave. Plus, they offered free breakfast. I’m not ashamed to say, we cooked one meal in the hotel room. Whether that meal was food we brought with us, or maybe leftovers from our meal out the day before. We allowed one meal out per day.

Road Trip Vacations Bike
One of the bikes rented by the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge in Nashville, TN
Road Trip Vacation
Bike Path at Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge, Nashville, TN

7 – Low Cost or Free Activities

There are many things you can do to save money on activities. We did a bike ride that was only $5.00 for an hour and only $1.50 per half hour after that. It was hot, but the path and location were beautiful! Although, I’ll admit, I let my son and his girlfriend go off biking on their own. I’m a realistic person. There was NO way I was going to make it back up that hill!

Another option would be museums. There is usually no fee to visit one. A donation is usually what they ask for, so you can choose how much to pay. Walking old streets in historic areas. You may be able to catch free parking. But, if parking is the only cost, you’re still ahead of the game!

8 – Camping

If you’re doing your road trip in an RV, some National Parks allow you to park in certain locations at no cost. This is called Boondocking. You don’t get to hook up to anything, so your electric and water is all on you. But, this can save you several hundred in lodging costs.

These are just eight tips on road trip vacations on a budget. There are so many that I could go on all day! But, let’s hear from you! What other things would you add to this list?

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