How to Save Money on a Road Trip: Cheap Road Trip Tips

How to Save Money on a Road Trip: Cheap Road Trip Tips
How to Save Money on a Road Trip: Cheap Road Trip Tips - Photo: Pixabay

Do you ever want to leave your house and explore new places? I recommend that you fill your tank with gas so that you don't have to worry about expensive flights or not having enough luggage with you. Road trips are a lot of fun and give a whole new meaning to the term "quality time."

However, if you haven't done the math and haven't planned a budget, planning a road trip isn't always cheap. If you want to go on a road trip on a budget, read my money-saving tips, which include ideas for how to have a good time while not spending a lot of money.

How to save money on your road trip

My best advice is to plan ahead. Plan how much money you want to spend and always have a backup budget because you never know what happens on the road.

However, I recommend that you do not obsess over it and plan every detail of your trip because the best things are the ones that happen unexpectedly. However, avoid spending money on items that you do not require.

And how to do that?

Consider what you need

  • Where you are going
  • How far it is
  • How long will you be gone
  • Where you will stay and
  • Fuel: You need full tanks all the time.  ( so set a destination and calculate)

Set your daily budget

Keep in mind to keep a daily budget. That depends on the people you're traveling with, but I recommend that each person set aside $50 per day.

Visit free attractions

Spending time outside on a trip is not only a great way to have fun, but it is also completely free. There are many attractions to see while driving through countries or cities, so look them up and go see them. This cuts overall driving time and costs.

How to save on accommodation


My first thought is to rent a campervan, which will save you a lot of money on accommodation and food. In a campervan, you can sleep wherever and however you want, and you can also cook.

Camping site

Bring your tent and you'll be able to find a free camping spot.

Cheap hotel deals

If you want to stay at a hotel, do your research before because there are some package deals which might include gas gift cards or discounts.

Airbnb on a budget

You can discover some reasonably priced kitchen-equipped accommodations on Airbnb, where you can prepare your own meals before departing.

Stay at a friend or family

What are the possibilities that you may run across a friend or member of your family en route? If you do, it might be a good idea to get in touch with them again and ask if they would mind hosting you for a night or two.

How to save on food

Of course, when you travel, you want to eat at local restaurants and taste the local food. That's something else I do. Nevertheless, eating out can be pricey.

Bring your  own food:

Before you leave for your road trip, find some sales at the shop and stock up on a variety of food. In my own experience, before heading for a trip, I buy some nuts, fruit, vegetables, and granola bars. You will have more energy to start moving around if you consume more protein and fiber.

Cook your own meals:

Start by preparing some cold dishes, which can be stored in a cooler when you are on the road. I recommend cold pasta and salads that are easy to make and do not spoil quickly.


Picnics are my favorite activity to do when I am on the road. Choose a spot with a view, have a blanket laid on the ground, and sit down to enjoy nature and the food.

Eat out lunch not dinner

One tip I picked up on my road trips is that places where business lunch is served are the cheapest ones. You get to have a proper meal and save money.

Have a plan

Plan your daily meals; this is the best way to ensure that you did not exceed the budgeted amount.

Bring your own coffee

Grab a French press and your preferred coffee grounds because I know most of us can't function without coffee.

Bring water

Driving for hours while snacking will leave you thirsty. Bring a large water jug and reusable water cups to avoid stopping every mile to buy a bottle of water. You should also bring extra water if you plan on doing more activities like hiking, biking, or jogging.

How to save on sightseeing

Sightseeing is a big part of why you travel and why you go on a road trip. So, no matter where you decide to go, there are a lot of free and inexpensive things to see and do.

I always google free things to do whenever I go somewhere new.

Many towns have a visitor center where you can ask for information as well.

There are free:

  • Live music concerts
  • Hiking or biking trails
  • History and art museums
  • Libraries
  • Historical monuments

Most importantly, the lake areas, beaches, and rivers are all free to visit. So make sure you pay them a visit.

How to save on transportation

Gas prices are increasing by the day, and I understand how that feels, but there are a few options for finding cheap gas no matter where you are.

Find cheap gas:

Enter "gas" into Google Maps' search bar. There are prices per gallon for nearby gas stations.

Use the GAS BUDDY app. It will show you where you can get the cheapest gas.

Avoid tolls:

Most GPS and mapping apps have the ability to adjust the route to avoid tolls, so do that.

Map your route:

Map your route ahead of time and research if there are shortcuts where you are going.

Download helpful road trip planning apps.

There are plenty of helpful apps that will make your road trip smooth.

Cheap road trip destinations in the US

I have some great options for the best cheap road trip destinations in the US, no matter where you are or where you live.

Route 66

From Chicago to Santa Monica, it's 2,000 miles. The appeal of traveling along historic Route 66 is that you may set your own destination, pass through seven states, and visit countless places.

Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon

The breathtaking waterfalls, rivers, bridges, and mountains throughout this road journey will wow you.

U.S. Route 1 in Florida

The historic U.S. Route 1, which runs from Maine all the way down to the Florida Keys, provides many options for adventure. If you ever find yourself in Florida, do yourself a favor and take the road that runs from the Keys to Florida's most northern coast. Spread out the 545-mile journey over two to three days of driving.

Arkansas Highway 7 Scenic Byway

You're in for a pleasant surprise if you have never traveled to Arkansas. This scenic byway, a 290-mile section of Highway 7, winds through four of the state's diverse regions via pine and hardwood forests, rivers, and rolling hills. It can be driven in one to two days. When you need a break from admiring the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, which are especially stunning in the fall and spring, visit the welcoming small towns.

About the Author

Gentiana Gjyshka
Gentiana Gjyshka

Gentiana Gjyshka, orignially from Albania is a traveller and a copywriter! You can connect with her on her LinkedIn account.