You’re ready to hit the road for your adventure; you’ve planned your route, packed your bags, set your playlist and filled the car with munchies. But how much is this all going to cost? Here're a few ways to have a great trip without breaking the bank.
Time for a checkup
Plan of attack
Food for Thought
The more the merrier
There’s an app for that
Fill ‘er up
The best things in life are free
Before you take off, make sure your vehicle is road trip-ready. A flat tire or a breakdown will cost you time, money and possibly your good mood. Avoid these potential money pits by making sure you’ve given your vehicle a good checkup before hitting the road. Little things like making sure your tires are inflated properly will also help boost your fuel efficiency and lower the cost of your trip.
Now, a real road trip should not be planned; you just hit the road and go wherever it takes you! However, a little advanced planning can go a long way to saving both time and money. Plan your route to avoid any unnecessary construction, detours or other irritants. Think of which routes you want to take, what attractions you want to see and where you might do you’re sleeping.
Food is always a big expense on a road trip. You have to eat, but it need not cost you an arm and a leg. To save a little cheddar, bring a cooler with you. You should be able to fit at least a few lunches and some snacks (maybe even some healthy ones?) in there and avoid a few restaurants. Your wallet and your tummy will thank you.
Nights on the road do not come cheap. Have you thought about camping? Make some room in your trunk for a tent and you can save a bundle on all those hotels and motels. Come on, a few nights without TV won’t kill you—and it’ll give you a chance to reconnect with the wilderness!
The more weight you add to your vehicle the more gas you’re going to guzzle along the way. Do you really need that extra pair of shoes anyway? You’re going on an adventure–avoid the superfluous. Not only will you save on gas, you’ll save space, making your time in the car more comfortable. If you opt to add a roof box, consider its aerodynamics–your fuel gauge will thank you.
What better way to enjoy an adventure than with a few friends? In addition to the extra laughs and having someone to talk to, sharing the costs of fuel and accommodations will dramatically reduce the amount you’re out of pocket.
Take time to enjoy your adventure. What’s the hurry? Stay close to the posted speed limits—you’ll save gas and avoid any unwanted attention from the local highway cops. Why blow your budget on a speeding ticket when you could put that money towards a souvenir t-shirt or six?
The rise of smartphones means you have easy access to a wealth of resources that can simplify your life during a road trip and save you money. There are apps to help you find the cheapest gas, the hotels with the best value, the restaurants with deals near you and many more.
If you are planning any stops in major centres, avoid re-fueling there. The price of gas is almost always higher in the big city than in the surrounding area. (According to Tomorrow’s Gas Prices Today, in mid-May, gas averaged about $1.35 per litre in Toronto; it was less than $1.30 just an hour away in Orangeville.)
Believe it or not, free does still exist in 2014. Get creative and look for free attractions or events to fit into your trip. And of course, nature is always free. Take some time to enjoy the scenery, hit the beach, go for a hike, look up at the stars—you can fit a lot of activities into your trip and not drop a dime.