How To Save Money On Your Road Trips This Summer | Refresh Financial

How To Save Money On Your Road Trips This Summer

Road trip

We’ve been talking a lot about saving money lately, so it’s probably pretty safe to guess that many of you might be planning to take a road trip as a less expensive alternative to overseas travel. Road trips can still put a dent in your credit or savings though, so let’s plan our trips right this year. Let’s save some bucks while having the best darned road trip since Chevy Chase took his family to Wally World!

Here are some of the best ways to save money while out there on the road.

The first thing you want to do before your road trip, is plan as best and as thoroughly as you can. Get your route and timing down and book your accommodations beforehand. Make a list of the places you want to stop, and plan what you will need to bring, so you’re not making too many unexpected purchases out there. Sure, I know Kerouac didn’t plan out any of his epic adventures across the USA and he probably travelled about as cheap as anyone ever has, but I don’t think you’re going to be hopping on trains with your family. I’d be willing to guess toddlers and hitchhiking don’t mix well, so make sure you plan every little detail. Don’t wax Kerouac! Plan instead! You’ll leave very little room for things to go wrong if you plan thoroughly.

Get yourself a gas prices app. Waze is amazing. Not only will you make sure you’re paying the lowest price for gas in any city you drive to, but you can also plan your route with this app. You can see traffic and find shortcut tips. The app crowdsources traffic information, so you learn more about that jam up ahead than just the fact that there is one. You’ll find out how fast cars are moving, if there is a detour, what caused the traffic, etc. It’s got GPS capabilities so you can reroute if you get lost. You can even use it to avoid points along your route where you have to pay tolls. It’s an amazing little app and it’s our favourite price ever: free!

Make sure you have your vehicle thoroughly checked before you head out on the road. Nothing you can do beforehand will guarantee that your car stays healthy for your whole trip, but getting a tune up will certainly increase the odds. You don’t want to find yourself on the side of some freeway, in a strange land, with your kids in the car, worrying about how much these repairs are going to cost you. Make sure you have good tires and that they’ve got just the right amount of air in them. Check all your fluids, your brake pads and the health of your transmission. If you are not a member already, become a member of BCAA. Yes, this is an added expense but it simply does not compare to the expenses that result from breaking down someplace far from home. Even if you don’t end up using any of the many BCAA services, the peace of mind alone make it worth every penny.

Make use of free attractions. Parks and beaches usually cost nothing to visit, so make sure you pack a picnic blanket and some sunscreen. Historical monuments and museums can sometimes be free. Carnivals, concerts, fundraisers, parades and many other types of events can also be free. I recommend using the app Gravy to find out what is going on near your current location. Gravy is free and lists tons of things to do nearby. You can also make use of the app, Along the Way, which is four bucks in the app store. This is crowdsourced info on the best stops along your road trip route.

Once you’re on the road, pay attention to speed limits. No two states or provinces seem to have the same speed limits, so know what they are and stick to them. A speeding ticket can be expensive and let’s be honest, no one wants to hang out with the cops on vacation. Avoiding excessive speed is also good for your fuel consumption and keeps your precious cargo safer.

You might want to consider camping along the way, rather than staying in roadside motels and hotels. This may find you veering off track to find a place to set up your tent, but it is nowhere near as expensive as other forms of accommodation. If you’re a camping pro, you can even think about taking the backroads and finding an even cheaper place to set up camp. Plus, camping food is cheap! It does take more time to camp along the way, but you do end up saving a ton of dough.

Use gift card swap websites to purchase discounted gift cards to the chain restaurants you’ll encounter along the way. Cardpool.com is a great example. Here, you can buy a $50 Applebee’s gift card for just $38.50! While this site is mostly for American chains, if you’re road tripping within Canada, you can use Giftcardswild.com. Save even more on your dining out by packing snacks for the car. The more you nibble all day long, the less likely it is that anyone will want to stop for something more expensive.

Let your financial institutions know where you’re headed. I was in Playa Del Carmen once, when my credit card was frozen because I forgot to tell Capital One I was in Mexico. To your lenders, it looks like a case of stolen identity when you purchase something in Vancouver one day and the next you buy an item in the Riviera Maya. They’re protecting you in this case, so make sure you help them out by letting them know where you’ll be. That way, you'll never have your funds frozen while in a strange land.

Make use of Groupon or LivingSocial. Save sometimes as much as 90% on meals, activities and attractions in each destination. You can download the apps and use your location services on your smartphone to find things to do nearby for much less than regular price.

Check your cell phone roaming coverage. If you don’t have a plan that allows you to roam without incurring huge fees, be sure to turn your phone carrier off. You can still make use of wifi if you set your phone to airplane mode and then turn wifi on in your settings.

If you follow all of these simple tips and tricks, you’re going to save a ton on your road trip this summer. That’ll leave you with more room for what is truly important: having fun!

What are some of your money saving trips for the road? Where are you headed this summer? Let us know in the comments!

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