Let’s face it, eating out on a road trip can get really expensive. Road trips can be costly but they don’t have to be budget blasters. You can save money on a road trip. Yep, really.
From the road trips I’ve taken, I’ve managed to find inventive ways to save money. Don’t get me wrong, I still like discovering great places to eat, especially old-fashioned diners! But there are ways to save while travelling.
Here’s are my top tips on how to save money on a road trip.
TIP #1: PACK SNACKS
Pack a huge bag of chopped-up carrots, grab some fruit and pretzels and have them handy in the car. This saves a lot and stops you from buying those convenient snacks when you stop to fill up the car.
TIP #2: BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS WITH KITCHENS
Book accommodations that have some kind of kitchen facilities. I love AirBnb for this reason (click here for a credit for your first stay!)! By having a kitchen available, it gives you an opportunity to not only save money on meals, but an opportunity to replenish the above-mentioned car snacks.
One of my favourite things to do when road tripping is to find place that has great views and picnic from the lunch I’ve prepared the night before while in my accommodation. I’m often posting on Instagram my “lunchtime views” as I travel.
I love AirBnb for this reason (click here for a credit for your first stay!)! By having a kitchen available, it gives you an opportunity to not only save money on meals, but an opportunity to replenish the above-mentioned car snacks. One of my favourite things to do when road tripping is to find place that has great views and picnic from the lunch I’ve prepared the night before while in my accommodation. I’m often posting on Instagram my “lunchtime views” as I travel.
TIP #3: TAKE WATER
Take a huge container of water with you, so you have a cheap way to refill your water cups instead of buying bottled water. Refill it with fresh water from your hotel/airbnb/campground each night. Not only does it save you money, but it saves on the plastic waste.
TIP #4: SPLIT MEALS
Split meals when you do go to restaurants – when you can. Not all restaurants will allow this, but it’s more cost effective if you do. Alternatively, buy two appetisers, if portions are larger. If you’re still hungry, buy an ice cream later. 🙂 While on our 10 month Australian road trip, this became a bit of a novelty for us. We were on a quest for the best ice cream/gelato in the world, one lick at a time, as it were. We decided that Millers Ice Cream in Western Australia’s Margaret River was the best in Australia.
TIP#5: INSTALL MONEY SAVING APPS
GasBuddy is one app that will definitely save you money. It will tell you the location of the cheapest petrol/gas along the route. It works in Australia, Canada and the United States.
NOTE: I’m always on the lookout for apps to help save, so if you have any you’ve heard of, please leave the name of the app in the comments below!
RELATED POST: 6 Apps You Need to Download Before You Travel
TIP#6: LOOK FOR FREE ACTIVITIES
Do your research and find free things to do. Markets are always fun to browse and of course, parks are awesome to explore. In many places, Museums are free too, or offer a cheaper day to visit. (Even the Louvre has opportunities to attend for free!)
TIP: If you’ve not tried Geocaching, it’s a great way to find hidden gems that usually only locals know about. We’ve had some takes us to some interesting places and some with the best views too!
TIP #7: GIVE KIDS POCKET MONEY
If you have kids: Give them ‘pocket money’ at the beginning of your road trip . It’s then their money to spend on whatever they want, but when the is money gone, it’s gone. They receive no more money for the rest of the trip. By doing this, the kids learn how to budget really effectively. This was really effective when my daughter was little and wanting trinkets in each and every gift shop we happened upon.
Another tip for kids: Give them $5 in change. Every time they ask ‘when are we going to get there…” or any derivative therein, they have to give up some coin, either a quarter or twenty cents. (The only exception is when they have to go to the toilet and ask when the next ‘pit stop’ would be.) At the end of the trip, any money they have left is theirs to keep. They learn FAST not to have the ‘when are we going to get there?’ question on repeat!
TIP #8: FIND ALTERNATE ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS
Check alternative options to hotels like cabins or villas in National or State Parks. They are basic and sometimes have to bring your own linens, but they are usually clean and well maintained. We’ve found some real gems on our travels. Camping is another option. (I love camping, although the old bones are getting a little tired of picking myself up off the ground in the morning!) Alternatively, Airbnbs are turning out to be cheaper than hotels! (Click here for a free credit for your first Airbnb stay.) TIP: You can use it at a later date if you aren’t ready to book yet.)
TIP #9: TRY HOUSESITTING
If you are travelling long term, consider Housesitting. It’s a great way to travel and exchange your housesitting and pet sitting services in exchange for accommodation and utilities.
For more information on Housesitting, check out my Housesitting 101 eBook.