Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.

How to Save Money on Your Next Road Trip

Are you getting ready to hit the road for your next adventure? Don’t let a budget stop you from experiencing the open road—there are plenty of ways to save money on your next road trip.

Road trips are a great way to get out and see the world, but without proper planning they can get costly.

The cost of gas, accommodations, food, and entertainment while on the road can really start to put a strain on your budget.

Three people sitting on a car in front of mountains - Road Trip Packing Essentials

But there’s no need to put your wanderlust dreams on hold — with a little pre-planning and research, you can save a lot of money on your next road trip.

These money-saving tips will give you the opportunity to enjoy all the joys of a road trip without breaking the bank.

Tips to Save Money on a Road Trip

Road trips are a great way to explore new places and create lasting memories, but they can also put a strain on your wallet. With a few simple tips, you can save money on your next road trip without sacrificing the quality of your adventure.

Plan Ahead

Woman holding map on top of car - Road Trip Packing Essentials

Planning ahead is a key strategy for saving money on gas and accommodations during a road trip.

It’s important to plan your route ahead of time to find the most efficient route. By planning out the best route and any potential stops, you’ll save yourself time and gas while on the road. Use a GPS like Google Maps to help you avoid traffic and plan pit stops, that way there aren’t any surprises that will set you back.

Planning ahead will not only save time, but also reduce the amount of gas you’ll need for the trip. You definitely don’t want to stretch your budget by using up all your gas on unexpected detours.

You should also consider planning your trip during off-peak travel times, if possible, to avoid higher gas prices and more expensive accommodations.

Save Money on Gas

Person filling up car gas tank - Road Trip Gas

Gas is one of the biggest expenses on a road trip. Luckily, there are several ways you can save money on gas during your trip and make the most of your travel budget.

Avoid higher priced gas by filling up your tank at stations located away from major highways and interstates. Gas stations by main roads tend to have higher gas prices since they’re convenient to many travelers.

But if you plan ahead, you can find cheaper places to fill up off the main roads. Use price comparison apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas prices along your route.

Driving efficiently will also help you save on gas. This means avoiding aggressive driving habits such as rapid acceleration and hard braking, which can lower your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Instead, drive at a consistent speed and avoid idling for long periods of time.

Having a GPS to help you avoid traffic jams will keep you going at a consistent speed and keep you from idling in traffic. Using cruise control on the highway is another way to maintain a consistent speed. Keeping your tires properly inflated can also improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Another way to maximize fuel economy is to reduce your vehicle’s weight. Packing lightly and avoid unnecessary items in your car. Carrying excess weight can decrease fuel efficiency and increase the amount of gas you need to use during your trip. Check out my Road Trip Checklist to help you pack light with only the essentials.

Budget-Friendly Accommodations

Hotel Bed,

For multi-day road trips, you’ll need to plan for overnight stays, which can really stretch your budget. Planning ahead to find cheap accommodations along your route will go a long way to saving you money on your road trip.

Camping is one of the most affordable options for road trip accommodations. Both public and private campgrounds offer a range of amenities and facilities, so you can rough it with tent camping or go for some glamping with things like yurts and simple cabins. Traditional camping will be the most budget-friendly option, while glamping options will be more expensive but still very affordable.

There are also tons of cheap hotels and motels located along interstates and highways. For a short, one-night stay on a road trip, you may consider foregoing comfort for cheap accommodations. These hotels and motels don’t have the same amenities as a hotel you might choose for a longer vacation, but they provide an affordable place to rest your head for the night.

When looking for cheap accommodations, it’s important to shop around and compare prices to find the best deals. This is best done when planning ahead rather than on the road.

Online booking sites such as Expedia,, and can be useful tools for finding affordable lodging options. These sites often offer discounts and promotions for bookings made in advance. You can also use price comparison websites like Tripadvisor and Trivago to compare prices across multiple booking sites to find the best deal on your accommodations.

Read next: How to Use to Save Money on Hotels

Dining on a Budget

Woman driving with fast food in lap - Road Trip Food

Saving money on food and drinks during your road trip can be easy with a little bit of planning.

One of the best ways to save money is by packing your own snacks and drinks. This allows you to avoid costly convenience store stops and ensures that you have healthy and affordable options readily available. Consider packing snacks such as trail mix, granola bars, and fresh fruit, as well as drinks such as water and juice.

Picnics can be a fun and cost-effective way to enjoy a meal while on the road. Look for parks, rest areas, and scenic overlooks where you can stop and enjoy a picnic lunch or dinner.

When dining out on the road, look for restaurants that offer happy hour specials, early bird discounts, or other promotions. If you plan your stops ahead of time, you can even use dining coupon apps or websites to find discounts on meals at local restaurants along your route.

Roadside Stops and Attractions

Long Creek Falls, Blue Ridge, Georgia

One of the things that makes a road trip fun is making interesting roadside stops. After all, a road trip is all about the journey!

There are plenty of free or low-cost roadside attractions and stops along the way that can help you make the most of your trip without spending a lot of money.

One of the best ways to find these options is to research your route in advance. Look for free museums, parks, and historical sites that you can visit along your drive. If you’re passing through big cities, look for free walking tours, which can be a great way to explore and learn about the area while stretching your legs after a long drive.

In addition to free options, there are also many affordable activities and attractions to consider. Look for discounts and promotions on popular attractions like amusement parks, zoos, and aquariums that you may pass on your road trip. Many attractions offer discounted tickets for advance purchase or for visiting during off-peak hours.

If you’re looking for off-beat and quirky places to stop on your road trip, my favorite site is Their map feature will help you plan in advance any detours you want to take to see some of the most oddball things from giant balls of yarn to interesting restaurants.

Spending some time outdoors is another great affordable activity for a road trip, and it’s a great way to stretch your legs. Look for trails and parks along your route where you can go hiking and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Other Money-Saving Tips

Person sticking their head and arm out of a car

If you’re renting a car for your road trip, consider renting from an off-airport location as these rentals tend to be more expensive. Use a car rental comparison website like, Expedia, or Orbitz to find the best deal. And be sure to check with your credit card company to see if they offer any car rental discounts or insurance coverage.

When it comes to packing and shopping, consider packing items that can be used for multiple purposes, such as a multi-purpose tool or a reusable water bottle. This will help you avoid purchasing unnecessary items on the road. Additionally, consider shopping for supplies such as toiletries and snacks at discount stores or in bulk to save money. Remember to pack a cooler to store drinks and snacks.

To avoid unnecessary expenses during your road trip, plan your route carefully to avoid tolls and excessive gas costs. Also, be mindful of speed limits and avoid unnecessary tickets or fines. You should also be cautious when using ATMs to avoid excessive withdrawal fees, and use credit cards with no foreign transaction fees if you’re taking an international road trip.

Road Trip Checklist opt-in

Ready for a Road Trip?

By taking these money-saving steps, you can help ensure that your road trip is a fun and affordable experience. Remember to plan ahead, pack wisely, and be mindful of your expenses along the way.

Looking for more travel tips? Check out these posts:

Make the most of your trip with these top travel tips, packing guides, and other resources.

Ready to take a vacation? Plan your trip with these tips.



How to Save Money on Your Next Road Trip

What are your top tips to save money on a road trip? Let me know in the comments!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *