ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Road Trips on a Budget

Updated on August 1, 2013
Taking road trips on a budget is sometimes necessary when personal finances are stressed.
Taking road trips on a budget is sometimes necessary when personal finances are stressed. | Source

Budgeting on Road Trips

If you are strapped for cash, possibly a struggling college student or a family with a single income, you may have to consider road trips on a budget. Trips can be very expensive for the most part. However, you can cut a few corners when traveling in order to save money and still have some fun- without a doubt! Personal finances are hard on everyone currently, so this form of saving has really become popular.

Budgeting for a vacation or getaway trip can be a bit tricky, so just be sure that you are planning far in advance; even down to which hotels you will stay at, and where. Let's stop wasting time and plan your road trip budget now!

Have You Ever Taken A Road Trip?

See results

Budgeting Your Food When Traveling

Food can be one of the highest expenses when traveling, especially if it is an entire family. Most of the food consumed is usually fast food. You can significantly lower food costs through one of two ways. The first way is to buy value menu items for the entire family. This will usually involve a side item, a main item (such as a sandwich or burger), and a drink. A family of four can eat on $12 through many fast food chains. Otherwise, an average meal could cost upwards of 5 or 6 dollars; a pretty big savings for a single meal. If you want to push the limits and really save money on the trip, you can pack drinks and food before leaving. Basics such as drinks, sandwich meats, condiments, and other items can be stored in a cooler, while chips and room temperature snacks can be stored throughout the car. With this method, an entire family can eat for as little as $4!

Hotels tend to cost less during the week, helping you to wisely budget your road trip.
Hotels tend to cost less during the week, helping you to wisely budget your road trip. | Source

Budget Through Off Season Road Tripping

During peak traveling months, such as spring break season, the summer, or winter holidays, many hotels will be packed and gas prices will rise. Try avoiding this competition by traveling during off season times. Hotels are usually slower, and gas prices tend to be slightly cheaper. When hotels experience low volume you can usually find great room deals. This is especially true during weekdays; hotels will usually see many check in's during weekends, instead of weekdays.

Booking Hotel Rooms before the Road Trip

Long before the road trip, you should book your hotel room. Many hotels offer discounts for booking rooms online at least 4-8 weeks before your intended stay. If you know the route that you will be traveling, you can pinpoint a hotel that you would like to stop at during the trip.

Wouldn't it be nice to receive service like this at gas stations these days? Unfortunately, those sky high prices don't include courtesy checks for your vehicle.
Wouldn't it be nice to receive service like this at gas stations these days? Unfortunately, those sky high prices don't include courtesy checks for your vehicle. | Source

Easing Gas Prices: Budget Friendly Road Trips

There are a number of ways that you can ease gas prices when traveling. First, the vehicle you are traveling in should receive a check up by a qualified mechanic. It should have an oil change, a tune up, and any necessary repairs. The tires should be checked for tread and air pressure readings. By ensuring that everything is running in good condition, you can avoid a loss in gas mileage.

Many stores, such as Kroger's, offer fuel reward programs. Many gas station chains offer this as well. By earning towards these fuel rewards, you can later use them on your fill ups during the road trip. These programs are extremely budget friendly, especially when it comes to road trips.

Planning road trips on a budget might just involve a tent, but who doesn't like to camp?
Planning road trips on a budget might just involve a tent, but who doesn't like to camp? | Source

Crashing for Free On the Road

If you really do not have the cash to spend on a hotel, such as in the event that you underestimated how much gas the trip would require, you can always find places to crash at for the night for free. You can camp out at parks and recreational areas in order to save some money. This will also require keeping a tent and a sleeping bag on hand; so do not forget this traveling must have!

Smart Budgeting: Splitting the Costs of the Road Trip

If your financial situation is in a bind and you cannot get a cash loan or borrow money for the trip, invite others along in the event that they split the costs. The average road trip may cost around $500, not including food. This cost can drop to $125 should three other travelers join you. When planning road trips on a budget, it always helps to have a traveling buddy that you can split all of the costs with.

Road Trips on A Budget Couldn't Be Easier: Utilizing Smart Phones

Smart phones are just that: smart! You can use your phone to accomplish many different money saving tasks. Different applications, such as GasBuddy, help you to map out competitors for particular services and goods. For example: GasBuddy can show you each station located along your route, as well as their most recent gas prices. Other applications can help you to compare hotel prices and book a room quickly. You can even use your phone to locate toll highways and avoid them!

You also cannot forget about free attractions, whether they are tourist areas or wildlife preserves. These are a great way to get some time out of the car while enjoying the areas you're visiting. Stopping along the way helps you to get off the beaten path and create some new memories. The road can get very boring and uneventful; why should a road trip become boring? Just because you are traveling on a budget doesn't mean your personal finances have to stand in the way of some wholesome fun!

A Side Attraction for a Budget Friendly Roadtrip: Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch is not a bad stop for road trips on a budget.
Cadillac Ranch is not a bad stop for road trips on a budget. | Source
Cadillac Ranch:
Interstate 40 Frontage Road, TX, USA

get directions


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      5 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Up, Useful, and Interesting.

      Thanks for all the good, helpful advice on traveling on a budget. I'm especially glad to learn about GasBuddy.

      Last May I traveled from Michigan to Idaho and back by Greyhound bus. By buying my ticket more than a week ahead of my departure date, I paid a discount price that was significantly cheaper than traveling by plane, train, the regular bus price, or car. To further reduce my cost, most of my meals were picnic food out of a bag on my lap. And on the bus I could read and write instead of having to drive.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      6 years ago

      Great tips and advice. We haven't been on really long trips lately, but we do travel several times a month. The grocery store here also has a reward system and it pays out about 10 to 15 cents off a gallon.

    • LKMore01 profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent practical tips, angryelf. Voted up and useful. My family has really enjoyed long distance traveling together and we have utilized all the suggestions you've made. This makes me want to go another road trip right now!

    • kidscrafts profile image


      6 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I remember when I was a student or at the beginning of my marriage, we went camping because it was way less expensive than go in a hotel. It's possible to travel for less. But I must say that with the high cost of gas now it's probably harder..... and in Europe, the price of gas is way higher than in North America!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)