10 Road Trip Hacks to Help You Save
A leisurely cross country road trip or excursion to the nearest major city can be just what you need to relax this summer. By sliding into the driver's seat, you not only control your departure and arrival times, but you’re also in charge of how much you spend along the way to your destination. While you may no longer be at the mercy of expensive airport food, extra baggage fees, and airplane carry-on restrictions, it’s easy to let spending get out of hand without a plan. Here are 10 road trip hacks to ensure your drive home isn’t filled with financial regret.
Before the Road Trip
1. Decide on your destination, route, and the number of days you’ll spend away from home. Your decisions in these three areas will ultimately determine how much you will spend. For example, a trip several states away driven along a scenic route will naturally take longer than one to the next state over where you’ve opted to cruise the major highways.
2. Figure out lodging for each overnight stay. Hotels aren’t your only option. Airbnb, Hostelworld, or campgrounds may offer low-cost ways to get some zzzzs. When possible, choose accommodations that offer free breakfast. Secure these deals before you take the first onramp. With a Checking PLUS account at Hughes, you can also get 3-5% cash back on hotels and other travel expenses.
3. Prepare your vehicle for the roadway by taking it in for a tune-up. Since anything can happen while traveling, assemble a road trip emergency kit that contains car safety essentials. Don’t forget to verify with your insurance agent or credit card company that your roadside assistance is still in effect. Towing a vehicle can cost anywhere from $2.50 to $7.00 per mile, so having sufficient coverage is helpful.
4. Locate deals on food, gasoline, and entertainment before you put your car in drive. Saving money on your next road trip is easy when you know where to find the best deals. Load up on snacks from the grocery store instead of the gas station. A gas app, like GasBuddy, can save you time and money by notifying you of where the lowest gasoline prices are using your cell phone’s GPS feature. Visit the destination city’s website for information about upcoming outdoor entertainment events which are free to the public.
5. Use a low-interest rate credit card to fund your trip and pay it off when you return home. Credit cards may offer protections such as purchase security coverage which is nonexistent when paying with cash. But, bring some cash in case you visit a vendor that doesn’t accept credit cards.
During the Road Trip
6. Eat a late afternoon lunch or early dinner to help keep food costs down. Use snacks to your advantage by using them to fill in the gaps for breakfast or late night munchies.
7. Refer to GasBuddy, or another gas finder app, you downloaded before the trip to fill up without emptying your wallet.
8. Skip the toll roads, especially when traveling out of state. Set your navigation app to “Avoid Tolls” in the settings.
9. Fill up on coffee from the hotel instead of the drive-through. Take breakfast on the go, if allowed.
After the Road Trip
10. Keep your purchase receipts and check them against your next several credit card statements. Checking your receipts against your statement charges can also alert you of potential fraud or attempts at identity theft. It will also confirm whether you were overcharged for purchases.
Planning is key to saving money on road trips. Create your savings road map, and you’ll have more money to spend on memorable experiences instead of travel costs. Get a head start on next summer’s trip by opening a You Name It Savings Account today and making regular deposits.