When we were younger, my dad would take our whole family from Dubai to Oman via the road. Our entire trip would take place on a low budget, but it seemed that we really didn’t need anything much as long as we were going.
The days were hot, and we were quite bothersome to the poor man, but it is still one of the best memories of my childhood.
Road trips have that incredible feel about them. Even if you don’t get out of the car and check out all the sights from within the car, it’s still gonna be special to you if you have our loved ones with you. If you’re alone and you’re out for a wonderful adventure all by yourself, road trips still prove to be quite a refreshing change and a great experience at that.
So, if you’re looking to find some of that adventure again but you’re on a low budget, you needn’t be so worried anymore. We’ve got you covered.
When planning, make sure to account first for the money that you will need for gas. Make use of online fuel calculators to have a rough estimate of how much you might end up spending. You can input your starting point and destination as well as the car model and year. This would help you estimate how much gas you would require throughout the trip.
Downloading apps like GasBuddy on your phone would help you find the cheapest gas stations on your route so that you can save up in that aspect too. Also, allot some safety money for any unforeseen emergencies and other additional expenses.
Before setting out, do make sure that your car is ready for anything. Pack less. Too much luggage can affect your car’s mileage. Make sure that your engine’s running properly and that your tires are all fully inflated (it saves petrol due to rolling friction).
The best thing to do would be to take your car to a workshop before you leave. It would even be a bit of a good move to learn the basics of car maintenance so that you wouldn’t have to spend money on small things. It can save you time and money now and it can save you time and money later.
If there are a bunch of you, carpooling is a great idea. Or you all could pitch in to rent an RV or a campervan. You could also pitch in to rent or buy a cheaper car. This would save you a lot of money and keep you safe inside your decided budget.
Accommodation within the budget
If you count out the money for gas, accommodation is your next biggest expense. And this is also where you ought to consider the additional rates during holidays and special occasions. But this also means that if you lower your accommodation prices, you’ll be able to lower a significant part of your expenses.
Dorms and hostels are a great way to find cheap accommodation. You could also use Couchsurfing and GlobalFreeloaders which are services that would allow you to stay with locals for free. Yup, for free. You can use the service to stay with locals and share a bit of your life with them as they do the same back.
But if the idea of staying over at a stranger’s house bothers you, then you should definitely go for a hotel or an Airbnb. It’s cheaper and you have the choice to share with people or book single rooms. Of course, there are also going to be lots of cheap hotels and dorms you can stay at, on your route.
Research them before you go. Make sure that you call them and that you don’t go only by the prices given online, because there’s always the chance that you would get them at a lower rate.
Another thing you can do is to get your camping skills out. You can easily find some free or cheap campsites on your route. You won’t have to pay as much as you would do at a regular hotel and yet you would still enjoy the night out.
Food expenses can build up very quickly, once you’re on the road. The best way to avoid spending too much money is by bringing some homemade food along. Something simple and sustainable. Granola bars, chips, nuts, and other such foods that wouldn’t have any problem sitting around for a while.
Also, get some more items that can be used to cook simple foods at your disposal. This is a great save on money. Take note of the grocery stores on your route too.
If you do have to eat out, try to make sure that you get the best out of it. Go to those places where you’ve really wanted to go. You’re out on an adventure and food shouldn’t slow you down. Try to get food coupons from sites like Groupon and Yelp Deals. Every little helps.
Entertainment on a budget
We all know that a road trip is nothing without the sights and the visits to places extraordinaire. And if you have kids with you, you better have something of a surprise stored for them. Thankfully, this part of the road trip is not immune to budgeting either. Google will have to be your friend on this.
Use it to find out about free events and activities that will take place in a specific area.
If you’re in the US and you’re planning to visit a lot of national parks, get a National Park Pass for $80. We have 59 national parks in the US and as long as you get a pass, you have access everywhere. You also get city tourism cards that allow you to see a lot of the main events in the city. But yeah, make sure that you’re getting it only if you plan to visit many places.
Planning is a huge part of any trip, whether by road or not. It never hurts to be prepared. You have to make sure that you are well aware of your destinations as well as your route. Look out for tolls and other fees on the road that could just as well be avoided.
Try to make sure that you are also aware of any possible construction work that could be blocking your road. In such cases, prepare an alternate route you could take.
Have a certain amount of money set apart for your road trip. Then try to account for everything that may cost you, from gas money to food and accommodation.
When you’re planning for a road trip, you could keep in mind that certain times of the year are busier. This would include Thanksgiving, Christmas, the fourth of July, etc. It would be best to put off your plans for later. But of course, when planning, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t cut back on anything you want to do or see.
Because that’s why you’re out in the first place, remember?
So road tripping on a budget?
Each road trip is unique. Even if you follow all these tips in exactly the same order, you will still have different experiences each time. Once you have done your basic planning and you’ve set out, then that’s that. Road trips are also incredibly fulfilling. Even if you’re on a low budget.
Because these are more than just trips. These are life experiences that you’re creating. Even seeing these places will be enough to get you started on your next trip.
Now if you have loved any of these tips that we’ve mentioned and have found them useful or if you know any more that you’d like to recommend to us, feel free to tell us through email or through the comment section below. We would love to interact and know more about you.