How to Plan a Road Trip Adventure on a Small Budget

Guest post by Sam Casteris. 

We all need a break every now and then. Taking a trip with your favorite people in the world is a perfect way to forget about the stresses of life. We understand that not everyone can afford an off the cuff trip to an exotic island but taking a road trip can prove to be just as fun and relaxing–and easy on the wallet, too. If you’re taking a trip on a tight budget, no worries. Here is a list of tips and tricks on how to plan an amazing road trip adventure that won’t break the bank. Let’s grab our favorite mixtape, put on our seatbelts, and drive off into the sunset with this road trip handbook at your fingertips.

Pack Efficiently

Have you ever gone on a road trip to the beach and forgot a towel, sunscreen, or even your bathing suit? Yeah, it sucks. It’s easy to overlook such obvious things, but we learn the hard way. Which brings us to our first tip. Before getting on the road, one of the most important things you can do is pack efficiently. Grab all of the essentials you need: clothes, toiletries, snacks, and other necessities. This will save you money in the long run by not buying things you already have at home. Snacks are also a big consideration – it is so easy to splurge at the gas station or buy fast food on the road, and it adds up quicker than you think.

Plan Stops

Driving for more than a few hours at a time will take a toll on you physically. To really maximize your trip, plan a few stops along the way to pass the time and, of course, to do some exploring. If you’re driving anywhere close to the coast, planning a stop at the beach is not only fun but free! Hiking is an option to stretch your legs and see the beautiful scenery that surrounds. You can also plan a stop for a yummy picnic or even a hike if you’re in a nice area. When the sun is beginning to set, make a last stop to enjoy the sunset with your road trip buddy.

Budget Well

Whether you have a big budget or not, it’s always a good idea to keep track of how much money you’re spending. Take a look at your trip and estimate just how much you have, and how much you can allow yourself to spend. Include things like gas, lodging, meals, and of course extra cash for fun things along the way. Spending money is just about the easiest thing you can do, so keeping a budget can be very useful and even eye-opening.  Before you start the trip, make sure your car has been into the shop if you’re driving. That’s one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the best gas mileage possible. As long as you follow our first two rules, this one will come a little easier. Also, if you’re going on a trip with your significant other or your best friend, consider sharing meals. Food portions are so big nowadays that it’s hard to finish one by yourself, and it guarantees that you eat a fresh meal every time without wasting food or money. Win, win!

Use Your Connections

Friends are always willing to help if you just ask. Do you know anyone who works for a theme park or lives in a beautiful area? Perhaps they can get you some discounted tickets or even let you crash at their place for a day or two–maybe even show you around town. Besides, getting to see a friend you haven’t seen in forever is always a major bonus. Just remember to return the favor as soon as possible such as buying them a nice dinner for their troubles – it will still cost you a lot less than having to buy a hotel room. As long as you are a clean and respectful guest, chances are they won’t mind helping you out. Just remember, no one likes a mooch!

If you follow these guidelines, you will be set up to have a great (and cheap) adventure. Going on a trip can be exciting and therapeutic–and coming home with money in the bank doesn’t hurt either. Just be sure to pack accordingly, plan ahead, budget your money, and take the time to reach out to people who may be able to help you out on your trip. We hope this road trip handbook will help you have an unforgettable trip without having to spend a pretty penny. Have fun and safe travels!

selfSam Casteris is an avid traveler and aspiring travel writer. She writes creative pieces about travel, informational articles for other travelers, and guides to make travel as stress-free as possible. Her home base is in Phoenix, AZ. Learn more at samcasteris.contently.com. 

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