Monday, December 28, 2015

How to Save Money on Road Trips

A friend of mine recently asked if I had any tips on how to take an inexpensive road trip. I thought about it for a while and came up with a few suggestions. Mr. Handsome and I took several road trips with his family before we were married, and we plan to continue that tradition in the coming years.

1. Planning Ahead is Key
Before heading out, sit down and map out your route. Consider how far you plan to drive each day, and search the internet for inexpensive accommodations. If you plan to stay in hotels, booking ahead will usually give you the best deal, but be sure to ask about the cancellation policies beforehand. Research attractions that you plan to visit, and calculate the cost (if any) of each.

2. Campgrounds are Cheaper
If you're traveling in summer, consider camping. If you already own tents and sleeping bags, it's a great way to keep costs down. But keep in mind that campgrounds are much less numerous than hotels, and some may require you to book ahead.

3. Pack a Cooler
Depending on the size of your family, eating out at every meal could double the cost of your road trip. When I was a kid, my mom always packed a large cooler of food, and when we ran out, we stopped at grocery stores instead of fast-food chains. Many hotel rooms have mini freezers, which came in handy when our ice packs thawed. Otherwise, we purchased ice at gas stations.

4. Budget for Souvenirs 
Picking out a few mementos is a great way to remember your trip, but souvenirs can be pricey. Before embarking on your adventure, decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it. If you don't end up finding something you love, then you can save that money or spend it on something else. A friend told me that she and her husband decided when they married to budget to purchase a small Christmas ornament on every vacation they take.

5. Leave Wiggle Room
When planning your route, allot extra time each day for unexpected stops. That way, when you see intriguing signs along the highway for attractions or historical landmarks, you'll be able to pull over.

6. Bring Your Own Entertainment
Pack a box of board games and family-friendly movies and TV shows, in case you arrive at your hotel or campground early. Not only will this provide additional opportunities for family bonding, but it will also help avoid unnecessary entertainment costs.

6. Relax and Have Fun
Saving money is important, but it will all be for nothing if your road trip is not enjoyable.

Do you have any tips to add?


  1. Anonymous12/28/2015

    I have a supplement to tip nr. 3: check which stores are in the town you plan to buy food. Some stores may offer you exactly the same products, but a lot cheaper. Guess this tip also belongs to "planning ahead".

  2. Anonymous12/28/2015

    Hey, Ellie! I love your blog. :)
    My road trip tip is to check AirBnB for lodging options! It can be a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel.

  3. Anonymous12/28/2015

    Good tips :-) We travel quite a bit. Last years trip was really the first time we brought grocery's and cook our own meals. You get tired of eating out after a while :-)

  4. Anonymous12/28/2015

    Before my daughter came, I used to sleep in my car at truck stops to save money on motels.

  5. Be careful what 3rd party cites you use, my suggestion is call the hotel your looking at make sure they have openings for that day first, then see what their rate is, also ask for how much it would be with tax, after that look into 3rd party cites it also wouldn't hurt to ask what cites they have agreements with, then look into those sites and see what their rates are for the hotel. Most hotels have a 24hr cancellation policy. Also look at the hotels website sometimes you can prepay for a room at a discount but the only catch is its no cancel and if you do you loose your money no matter what, so make sure you are going to get there and be able to stay. I work at a hotel so I have lots of advice lol. Like my hotel we pretty much are on all 3rd party cites, I suggest not to use cause they never come thru on our end and they always seem to book on nights we are sold out, and people have a hard time getting their money back. I suggested making sure they have openings because sometimes the hotel is should out but the website doesn't have that information and you think you have a room when you don't so your stuck trying to get your money back and finding a place to stay on a budget.

  6. Anonymous12/29/2015

    I have an EZ pass transponder for turnpike tolls. It is cheaper than paying at the booth and much quicker. I try to travel at off peak times. Rates are much cheaper during the week than on the weekend. Great Ideas.

  7. Anonymous12/29/2015

    I know this is off subject but do you have any recipes for new years eve dips or snack type hot foods?

    1. Hi there,

      I do have a recipe to share. A guest brought it to my mom's Christmas party, and it was delicious. Hope you like it!

      Mexican Dip
      8-ounce package cream cheese
      12-ounces shredded cheese (mixture of cheddar and Colby)
      1 can Hormel chili (without beans)
      1 jar salsa (mild, medium, or hot, depending on preference)

      Spread cream cheese on the bottom of a holiday baking dish, and cover completely with Hormel chili. Top with salsa, and place shredded cheese on top. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 350. Serve with tortilla chips.

  8. Anonymous12/29/2015

    Coming from a large family, my mother always packed a picnic when we traveled from home. It also allowed the little ones to run around and work off a little energy before loading back into the car. We are campers and my sister gave me the following advice: take some cooked potatoes and hard boiled eggs along. From these two ingredients you can make potato salad, fried potatoes, egg salad, as well as adding cooked potatoes and diced eggs to several other recipes.

  9. We have always packed our own food for roadtrips, and some people think we're crazy! But it is so much cheaper, and eating out does get really old, really fast. Also, great idea about bringing board games, I've never thought of that. The hotel can get so boring at night, so it's a good idea.