How to Pull Off a Budget Road Trip

There’s nothing like hitting the open road in search of adventure. Whether you have a specific destination in mind or are willing to stay flexible and see where your travels take you, road tripping can be a fun, affordable way to get off the beaten path and see parts of the country you never even knew existed. And as an added bonus, traveling by car means not having to worry about cramming all of your stuff into a single suitcase or dealing with flight delays and long lines at the airport. Here are some easy tips for pulling off a fabulous road trip on the cheap.

Pack your own food

Sure, a big part of traveling is getting to experience local cuisine, but food can also be a major budget-buster. If you pack your own meals and snacks instead of stopping for breakfast, lunch or a mid-day pick-me-up while driving, you’ll not only cut costs, but also minimize some damage to your digestive system. So forego those greasy hamburgers and fries and pack some sandwiches instead. If anything, save your money for when you’re in a place where there’s a fun restaurant you’re eager to try.

Slow down

Speed limits are designed to keep drivers safe on the road, but they also encourage fuel efficiency. The more you exceed the speed limit, the more gas you’re likely to use, which can directly impact the cost of your overall trip. Additionally, if you avoid speeding, you won’t risk getting a ticket and the multi-hundred dollar fine that could come with it. In fact, if you’re driving long stretches, you can set your car to cruise control to maintain your speed. Remember, accidentally zoning out is not a valid excuse for speeding in the eyes of most police officers, and you don’t want to be on the sorry end of that particular conversation.

Sleep on the road

Lodging costs can all too quickly eat away at your travel budget. If you’re road tripping as a group, try driving through the night to avoid hotel or motel fees. If there are enough drivers in your vehicle to do so safely, you can take turns sleeping and getting behind the wheel. Of course, you won’t want to do this every night, as you’ll spend much of your trip exhausted. But if you’re embarking on, say, a two-day drive to reach your destination city, try powering through so you can afford a decent place to stay once you do roll into town.

Try to Avoid Tolls

When you’re traveling by car, toll fees can add up quick, and avoiding them can help you keep your costs down. There are That said, if dodging tolls means adding a lot of extra mileage to your journey, you may come to find that what you save in toll costs, you add in fuel costs — in which case you might as well take the more direct, hassle-free route toward your destination. If you don’t have an EZ-Pass already, get one before you hit the highway. You’ll save time, and in some cases, money, as some roads in a variety of states offer EZ-Pass discounts.

Whether you’re traveling by car for a few days, a week or a month, when you’re out on the road, remember to stop, look around and take in your surroundings — because while we’re all wired these days to always have a camera at the ready, there are some experiences you just can’t capture with a selfie alone.

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