Road trips are fun, and many family members look forward to the next time a trip will come up. They need to be planned well to eliminate any factors that may leave a sizeable dent on your finances. This is more so if the road trips are to be taken in the company of children. The good news is that with a few well thought-out measures you can still have fun on the trip at a cost that is pocket-friendly. Here are five tips you can adopt to save money on your car trips:
1. Prepare a Budget
Plan on what you intend to spend based on the financial resources at your disposal. The best kind of budget to come up with is one based on projected daily spending. That way, it will be easier to keep track of your spending on a daily basis, and quickly take remedial measures if need be. A good budget will be informed by a well-drawn itinerary. Decide, beforehand, on things like where you intend to buy gas and what hotels you intend to stay in. Remember to set aside some cash for emergencies.
2. Prepare Your Car
Ensure that your car is roadworthy for the road trip to avoid time-wasting and costly breakdowns. It is advisable that you have a mechanic check it over, especially if the road trip will be considerably long. Ensure that the tank is full and that the tires are roadworthy and properly inflated.
You may also want to consider renting a car if your own is not in the best condition for the trip. Take advantage of the cheap car rental deals that can be found online. While at it, you could also acquaint yourself with the cheapest gas locations on your route. Whenever possible, use the gas rewards schemes offered by gas companies to save some money on gasoline.
3. Avoid Expensive Hotels and Restaurants
The frequent traveler knows that meals and hotel accommodation can eat into a large part of the trip funds if not well planned. It is advisable to bring along your own food – this will be both healthier and cheaper. Where possible, pack a cooler and with some food so that you can prepare some meals on the way. You will save some money on these meals, and the overall effect will be a less expensive road trip. Whenever you stop for meals, opt for supermarkets and cheap local eateries instead of the more expensive chain restaurants.
If you are to sleep out for a number of nights, choose to rent a condo or a house as hotels can be quite expensive. Instead of booking a hotel room, you may opt to camp out in order to cut down on costs.
4. Plan for Entertainment
Pack a few trip games to keep the kids entertained during the road trip. Purchase some toys for the kids to play with in the car and whenever you make a stop. Frisbees, balls, short books, card games and trinkets will come in handy to make time go faster and kill boredom for the kids. The trick is to look for bargain stores, from where you can get a good deal for the toys. Visit a Dollar Store to stock up on inexpensive toys.
Find out the kind of free mini zoos that are on your route and plan to visit them as a way of entertaining your family. They are likely to help you save on costs as opposed to visiting the more established and commercial zoos which charge hefty entry fees.
In essence, entertainment is a great way of making road trips fun, and as such cannot be dispensed with. Be sure to plan well for this to reap the maximum benefits of cost cutting.
5. Save On Snacks
Taking snacks on a road trip is one of the greatest ways of remaining energized during the journey. Snacks enable all members of the travelling party to remain on the road for longer and avoid making short, time-consuming stops. Short frequent stops are both time wasting and costly. Be sure to stock up on enough snacks to enable you to remain longer on the road, and only take few but longer stops to refresh and restock.
It is advisable that you only allow each person only one type of snack at each stop. It will be more costly to buy all sorts of snacks for each person every time you stop. For example, a member can buy candy during the first stop, special drinks in the next one and crackers during the third stop.
So, go ahead and take that car trip you have been dreaming about. You do not have to be scared of the costs. Do a work-out of how much you will spend based on the money you have, and apply the five tips above to make it work for you.