5 Money-Saving Tips for Your Next Road Trip

Wonder how I manage to travel so often on a part-time teacher, part-time blogger’s budget? You’re not alone… so do my parents! Sure, I’m good at finding cheap flights and killer accommodation deals, but I sure ain’t no money expert (hence, my writing career). So, to better answer your questions, writer and financial expert Elle Anderson has contributed an article to AWC to share some of her tips on how to save money on your next road trip. Ready Elle? Hit it:

Who doesn’t love a road trip?

They offer a sense of excitement and freedom which is very rarely matched in any other kind of holiday. But with long mileage comes a hefty fuel bill. In order to sustain your funds throughout your adventures, you’ll need to be smart with your spending.

Today, let’s run through five money-saving tips which will ensure you stay in the black during your next trip on the open road.

1. Research, research

next road trip
Original photo via Flickr @TimOve

A crucial first step in the development of any successful road trip comes in the form of research. If you’re after the perfect holiday, you’ll need to do some serious thinking before you even head off.

Plot out your route beforehand and take certain landmarks or areas into account. Avoid spots which you think are going to be costly (i.e.- toll roads, curvy and roundabout mountain roads), and plan out the route which will save you time and mileage. Every bit of prep work will make a huge difference.

2. Visit free tourist attractions

road trip
British Museum in London fo’ FREE. Original photo via Flickr @Lim Ashley

Not every spot you visit has to cost a fortune. Even in places like London, you’ll be able to find a wealth of things to do, as Lonely Planet highlights. This is true across the whole of the globe, with amazing activities to do for little to no money.

In some instances, this will be something as simple as checking out a spot of amazing natural beauty. Chances are, on a long road trip, you’ll be able to find several different locations which offer you memories that’ll last a lifetime, without even taking out your wallet.

3. Travel in low season

road trip
Original photo via Flickr @Bert Kaufmann

This tried and tested system is guaranteed to help you save on your road trip. While it usually comes in more handy in regards to avoiding the steep cost of flights, it has equal value for road trippers. Car rental services often even rent out their cars for lower prices! 

You’ll also find prices at pretty much every major landmark seriously reduced, as well as much shorter lines for whatever you want to see. In cities dedicated to tourism like Venice, or beach destinations like Portugal’s Algarve, food is even cheaper in the off season! So, start planning now to book your road trip in autumn or winter. 

4. Use a prepaid credit card

These devices are a clever way to avoid paying pesky transaction fees every time you make a purchase when overseas. As the Money Saving Expert points out, exchange rates when abroad can sometimes be a wallet-buster – with as much as 3% extra charges on every purchase.

Stocking up one of these cards before you travel is a clever way to avoid costs getting out of hand. A measly three percent may not sound like a lot as a one-time payment, but it’ll start stacking up as your trip progresses.

5. Prepare your own meals
thank you local fishmonger!

As 1cover points out in their frugal traveller guide, cooking your own meals is either a really smart or a really dumb idea, dependent on which part of the world you’re in. If you’re off on an adventure in places like Thailand or Vietnam, you’d be much better off electing for local street foods.

In most of Europe and North America however, things are very different. Street and restaurant food can reach ridiculous prices (I paid £40 for a simple curry and samosa starter last week in Kent). Save your pennies by instead buying delicious ingredients from a local market, and prepare them yourself. 

Do you have a clearer idea of how to save some money on your next road trip? Pay attention to this advice and you’ll be able to pick up and road trip as often as you want!

-Contributed to AWC by Elle Anderson

For some road trip inspiration, check out my road trip itineraries in Andalucia and Portugal’s Algarve!

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