Road trips can be a blast, windows down, tunes up and it’s cheaper than plane tickets, right? Not always. With rising gas prices, finding places to sleep along the way and the cost of food, road trip expenses can add up. But, there are insider tricks that we’ve gathered from our years of traveling that we’ve condensed into 8 must-know tips before you hit the road for your next adventure:
1. Always ALWAYS plan ahead. It’s great to be spontaneous, but it will end up costing you in the end. Know where you’re sleeping ahead of time, whether it’s a hotel, an Airbnb, a friend’s couch, or a tent. Trust us, waiting until you’re on the road will leave you with limited options and when you’re tired, hungry and have heard “are we there yet” from the back seat for the 100th time in the last hour, you’ll pay just about anything to find a place with a bed.
2. Gas is always a big expense on road trips. It’s so worth it to take the time before you leave to plan your route to ensure you’re getting the cheapest gas possible. It might sound crazy, but when you’re filling up for the umpteenth time and then 5 minutes AFTER you got gas, you see a station that is 10 cents cheaper PER GALLON, you’ll be thanking us for this tip. If you want to take it one step further, try becoming a member at a Wholesale club. There’s a bunch, but we’re BJ’s members. Not only do they have one of the best gas prices in the country (BJ’s was recently ranked among the leading low-price fuel retailers in the United States,) but they always have great ways to save even more. For instance, now through July 5, 2017, members can save 25 cents per gallon at one of the 132 BJ’s Gas® location after purchasing two qualifying P&G items at a BJ’s Wholesale Club location on the same day. As an added benefit, those who have a My BJ’s Perks Mastercard can save an additional 10 cents off a gallon. It may not seem like much, but a few cents here and there add up.
3. Have a cooler packed with drinks, snacks and food that will actually sustain you. Pretzels and chips are tempting and always fun to chomp on as you’re cruising along, but eating out for every single meal is not only costly, but also time-consuming. Make a bunch of easy-to-grab food ahead of time. We’re big on sandwiches, quick make ahead of time and pack great in a cooler.
4. While planning (see tip number 1) is key, things always pop up and plans change. When that happens and you need to grab dinner somewhere or find a new place to stay, check deal sites for major savings before booking ANYTHING. I can’t tell you how much money we’ve saved by checking Groupon quickly when we’re traveling. Thirty seconds and you’ve found a new, cool place to eat for half off or a cute bed and breakfast for way cheaper than that hotel you saw down the street.
5. Before you hit the gas pedal, have your car get tuned up. It may cost a little bit up front, but there’s nothing worse (or more expensive) than breaking down halfway to your destination. It puts quite the damper on your adventure. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
6. Pack efficiently. It might seem silly, but extra weight means more gas which means more money. Leave those extra beach chairs that you never end up actually using. Bring only the essentials. You’ll spend less in the long run and your life will be a lost easier when you simplify.
7. Plan for the worst, expect the best. This is especially important if you’re traveling with kiddos. Make sure to pack a first-aid kit and any necessary medications like inhalers or precautionary medications like Tylenol. Emergency room bills can add up and those highway pharmacies charge an arm and a leg for simple medications. If you come prepared, you can avoid some medical emergencies by having the right equipment on hand.
8. Last, but definitely NOT least, get those tires prepped. All tires should be properly filled just before you take off and check for any possible areas that might need to be patched. Plus, that spare tire you forgot about in your trunk? Make sure that’s all up to speed too. If it’s a longer trip, replace your donut with a full-sized tire. It might be a little more upfront, but it will absolutely be cheaper (and less exhausting) than breaking down on the side of the random road and having to call a tow.
There’s nothing better than a good road trip, except maybe two good road trips. Trust us when we tell you that every cent counts. So, a dollar here and there might not seem like too much, but collectively, those dollars will help you go on even more adventures. Hoping these tips help you minimize your spending and maximize your trip. Happy road tripping! Do share your best road trip tips in the comment section.