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Tricks for Saving Money on a Road Trip

Car on Road Trip The summer’s a great time to hit the road, whether it’s for business or leisure. With airline prices ever on the incline, taking a road trip is a great way to save some cash on travel expenses. But, as we all know, the price of a road trip can add up, as well. So here are some tricks for keeping your costs down on the road.

Tips For A Cheap Road Trip

Use A Discount Site To Book Your Hotel—We’ve all seen the commercials for websites that offer discounts on hotel reservations, whether the spokesperson is the roaming gnome or Captain Kirk. But they work! Making reservations online ahead of time through Orbitz, Kayak, etc. can save you hundreds. And there’s even an app called Hotel Tonight that can help you out if you’re really in a last minute jam.

In addition to the main brand travel sites we know from TV, there are also hosts of other general discount websites that offer big savings on hotel reservations. These sites allow users to enter discount codes when making online and phone reservations to automatically save as much as 20% on their booking. Although these websites may take a little more digging than the big names, they can save you just as much.

Also, for the more adventurous people out there, camp grounds are inexpensive places to crash for a night. Although you won’t have all the amenities of a hotel for a night, camping might just be the fun experience you were hoping for while on the road.

Save On Gas—There are ways to save at the pump and at the wheel. At the pump: join a fuel rewards or discount program. Many big name gas stations, such as Shell or BP, offer loyalty discount programs for customers. Joining the program of your choice is a great way to save a few extra cents on a gallon every time you fill up. Some grocery store chains like Costco also offer fuel perks for customers who use their advantage cards when they purchase groceries. Although some of these chains are regional, like Giant Eagle or Kroger, they can help save you major money throughout the course of a year even when you’re not road tripping.

At the wheel: buy a GPS and be gentle on your accelerator. We all know that the more miles you drive the more you spend on gas, so don’t get lost! A GPS helps you find the quickest, most direct route and keeps you from getting lost along the way. Some GPS’s even allow you to choose the “avoid toll roads” feature to help you save your quarters along the way.

Gentle driving can also be your friend when avoiding excess gas usage. Every time you clamp down on your brake or gas pedal, you’re burning through extra gas. Aim to make your transitions as smooth as possible and even use your cruise control while you’re on the freeway. The steadier you can be in your driving, the more gas you’ll preserve.

BYOS: Bring Your Own Snacks—Every time you stop to get gas and end up buying a candy bar, you’re spending an extra couple of dollars you could’ve saved. Pack a cooler in your car and stock it with all your favorite snacks and drinks. Although it may take a little guesswork to predict what you’ll be craving after driving for 4 hours, anything you bring from the grocery store is one less item to be overcharged for at the gas station.

Be Responsible

Making sure your car is in working order and avoiding speeding are two things on your checklist that can really save you on a road trip. Get an oil change

and air up your tires before you head out on your trip. The last thing you want is for your car to break down in the middle of corn fields and you have to call AAA. Plus a well-running engine and pumped tires help with your gas mileage. And we all know how much a speeding ticket can cost us. So avoid the frustration and the cost of a ticket and drive responsibly.


Anna Albi is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing with an additional major on Professional Writing. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Professional Writing, also at CMU. Feel free to reach out to her through Google+.

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