Road trips, Road trip, road trip essentials, travel tips, How to travel on a budget, How to hit the road on a budget

Life gets stressful sometimes. Whether it’s school or work, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed if you have too much going on. Sometimes it’s nice, with the right road trip essentials, to take a break and get away from it all. 


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Many people’s minds might jump to exotic tourist attractions/locations when they think of a vacation, but there’s much to be seen and explored without having to hop on a plane or jetting off to a foreign country. 



Road trips can be a fun way to see multiple destinations, beautiful scenery, and be spontaneous. They can be taken with family, friends, as a couple, or even solo if you choose. 


By the way, if you are unsure of where to go on a trip, you can start by using the Discoverybit travel directory to plan a road trip. See how it works in the video below.




Utilize a Budget for Your Road Trip

And so you have decided on a vacation spot(s) to visit, but the cost of the road trip can quickly add up if you’re not careful. Staying multiple nights in hotels, eating out every day, and even paying the price of gas can cause you to spend more than you initially planned if you’re not paying attention.


If you’re on a budget, you’re likely looking for the best road trip essentials to hit the road without breaking your bank. It may seem complicated, but finding ways to save money on your road trip might be easier than you think.


There are many things you can do to save yourself money on your trip while still having the experience you were hoping for. So what are the road trip essentials that can make your trip fun and exciting without overspending?


Road Trip Essentials Tip #1 – Check Your Insurance Policy

A lot of things can happen while you’re on your road trip. While you may think cheap car insurance is the best way to save money, it may not always be the case.


You’ll obviously spend less with a lower-cost policy; however, you could wind up paying a lot of money if something happens to you on the road and your insurance won’t cover it.


Having a great travel insurance is one of the best road trip essentials that can help with most things that could go wrong while on your road trip. It’s a temporary insurance option while traveling that can give you peace of mind should something go wrong.


You don’t know what could happen while you’re on the road. You or someone you’re traveling with could get seriously injured and need medical attention. The car you’re driving might break down on the side of the road. 


Inclement weather may cause the hotel you were planning to stay in to have to shut down. Your vehicle could get broken into and all your belongings could be taken.


Though these seem like unlikely, worst-case scenarios, they can happen. And it’s best to be prepared. That’s where travel insurance can come in handy, as one of the most important road trip essentials.


You’ll get coverage for events like unforeseen medical emergencies, car repairs, possible cancellations, and even stolen luggage. 


It may seem like it’s an expense rather than savings, but if something does go wrong on your trip, you’ll be glad you have it. Otherwise, you could be left paying for those significant expenses out of your pocket, which will cost more in the long run.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #2 – Pack a Cooler with Drinks and Snacks

Extended amounts of time on the road can make it highly tempting to stop at a gas station and grab a drink or stop at the nearest fast-food restaurant.


However, you may not realize how quickly those purchases add up. The cost of gas station drinks is highly inflated compared to the price you could get them for if you bought them in bulk at the grocery store.


And though fast food is typically cheap, it’s not great for you, and it’s an expense you don’t always need to have. And buying multiple meals can add up quickly, especially if you’re eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 


Having a cooler stocked and readily available with drinks and food are road trip essentials that will help to curb the temptation to grab convenient food along the way.


You can pack anything from sandwiches to snack packs. Just try to avoid overly messy foods. You may not enjoy spilling things all over yourself while you drive. Try to pack dishes that are easy to eat while driving, too, like sandwiches or smoothies.


This isn’t to say you can’t still stop for meals if you choose, but cutting the costs of food and drink stops by packing your own food can really help you stay on a budget.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #3 – Travel in the Off-Season

Peak vacation times are the most desirable times to travel. Usually, the weather is ideal, or it is holiday time. The point is, tons of people are out and about traveling. 


But if you’re looking to save money on your road trip, these will be the times you need to avoid.


Most tourist destinations or travel places know many people will be hitting the road in one form or another during these peak times, prices will typically be higher than they would during the off-season.


This means you’ll be paying more for things like gas and lodging due to the increased peak season prices. And the price difference typically isn’t just a slight increase. When you add it all up, you could be spending much more than you budgeted to travel during these times.


Choosing to travel during the off-season is one of the important road trip essentials that will not only save you money but will also likely save you a headache. Peak season means tons of people on the road and much more traffic than usual. Off-season will typically give you open roads with far less traffic.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #4 – Stray Off the Beaten Path

It can be tempting to visit all the larger cities you see while on your road trip. But if you’re on a budget, it will be best to avoid most of them. That’s not to say you can’t stop in one or two if you plan accordingly, but making large cities your primary focus will only end up costing you much more.


Prices for many things such as food, gas, and accommodations are higher in big cities than in lesser-known, rural areas.


Between the higher cost of having a business in a bustling city and their high visitor levels, hotels or attractions in cities will often charge higher prices than those in a less popular area.


Researching locations that are interesting and perhaps a little off the beaten path is one of the best road trip essentials that will allow you to still enjoy your road trip without overspending. And who knows, you may find a few unique places and hidden gems along the way.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #5 – Set a Budget Ahead of Time

The easiest way to blow through money is to not know how much you’re actually spending. Lodging, gas, food, and entertainment can all add up quickly if you’re not careful with your spending.


Carelessly spending money can leave you with a fun first couple of days but minimal funds to carry out the rest of the trip. Instead, try setting a daily budget for your spending. Taking cash out before you leave can be a great way to accomplish this.


It’s a lot easier to be aware of how much you’re spending when you’re watching the money diminish right in front of your eyes. Often, paying with a card can lead to irresponsible spending because you’re less aware of your money than when using cash.


Setting aside a certain amount of money each day is one of the best travel tips that allows you to be sure you don’t exceed your spending limit and can continue enjoying your road trip the whole way through.


Plus, if you find yourself under budget towards the end of the trip, it may be the perfect opportunity to splurge on something you really wanted to do but thought you couldn’t afford.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #6 – Fill up Your Tank Away from the Main Roads

When you’re traveling, it seems convenient to stop at the first gas station off the exit and fill up your tank. However, doing this multiple times on a road trip can end up costing you extra money. 


Gas stations right off the highway and main roads will typically have higher prices than those a little farther away. They know they are the most accessible stop, so they take advantage of it.


Traveling a little further out to fill up on gas, is one of the best road trip essentials that can save you a good chunk of change, considering how often you’ll likely be doing it on a road trip.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #7 – Consider Camping as a Lodging Option

You don’t have to do it every night of your trip, but if you don’t mind the great outdoors, packing a tent on your getaway may help you save some serious money.


Hotels can be expensive, and the cost can add up. But, you can get a spot at a campground for a reasonably low rate. Some areas like national parks even offer free camping.


If you already own a tent or know someone you could borrow one from, this can be one of the great road trip essentials for staying within your budget and possibly get even more stops on your trip.


Depending on your budget, you can plan for only a few nights at a campsite or even a majority of your nights there. It all depends on what works best for you. Either way, switching out a few nights in a hotel for ones under the stars is one of the best travel tips that will definitely help you stay on budget.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #8 – Look for Free or Low-Cost Activities

When you’re in vacation mode, you certainly are a bit laxer to spend on things you think will be fun. After all, you’re only there once, so you want to enjoy it. But sometimes the cost of activities in touristy areas can be extremely high. They know people will pay for it, so they charge it.


You may be overlooking how many free or low-cost options are around if you’re too busy focusing on the more flashy things to do. Many places have things you can do for minimal money or even none. Things like hiking, local parks, and even free walking tours of the area are available in most places.


You can also check websites or apps with deals on them to see if there’s anything good in the location you’ll be traveling to. Sometimes you can find some great activities for a surprisingly good deal by doing a little digging.


Don’t forget about local events either. If you know ahead of time where you plan to stop, one of the best travel tips would be to check the city website or visitor information to see if there are any fun and free events happening during your time there.


One of the very important road trip essentials is to do a little research before you arrive, and you’ll surely find many things you can do without breaking the bank.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #9 – Plan Things Ahead of Time

Being spontaneous can be extremely fun. But if you’re looking to save money, it’s usually better to plan most of your trip ahead of time. Without a plan in place, you may find yourself overspending on items you forgot or unexpected stops.


Making a list before you leave of everything you’ll need to pack is one of the great road trip essentials and travel tips that can be a money saver while you’re on the road. Prepping ahead of time ensures you don’t forget anything essential that you’ll have to stop and purchase along the way.         


If you know you’re going to want to go to specific locations along your journey, make sure you have the proper clothing for it. If you’re traveling across multiple climates, make sure you pack a wardrobe that accommodates the weather changes. 


You don’t want to be stuck finding the nearest clothing store and spending tons of money because you’re too cold, too hot, or have the wrong shoes.


Pre-planning your lodging also helps you stay on budget. Looking into accommodations ahead of time means you’ll be sure you’ve found the best price in the area. 


Sometimes being under pressure to stop for the day, combined with feeling tired and cranky can mean you’re less inclined to care about price and more worried about getting a roof over your head for the evening.


You can also plan your activities ahead of time. This can help you budget your money for the things you really can’t miss. You can fill the rest of your free time with free or low-cost activities to keep costs down.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #10 – Check Your Travel Points

You may be able to get some money back from your credit card to travel with, depending on the specifications of the provider you have. Many card carriers will allow you to redeem points you have earned for cash back, hotel bookings, or other activities.


Even if your points aren’t sky high, a little is still more than nothing and could allow you to maybe splurge on an activity you didn’t think you could afford because you have cashback or a free hotel stay.


One of the great travel tips would be to check your card by either calling the customer service line or using a mobile app if your carrier provides one. You should find all the information you need to see if you’re eligible for some extra funds.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #11 – Consider Staying at Hotels that Offer Breakfast

It might not be something you immediately think of, but having complimentary breakfast available at your hotel is one of the best road trip essentials that can save you a decent amount of money during your trip if you’re planning on staying multiple nights in hotels.


As mentioned before, meals can add up. And sit-down meals are even pricier than just running through a drive-thru. You’re paying for the food, which usually is more expensive, plus a tip, so it all adds up.


If you’re planning to stay in a hotel anyway, book one that offers a complimentary breakfast. This saves you from spending money on a meal, meaning more room in the budget for other things you want to do.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #12 – Book a Hotel With a Kitchen

If a complimentary breakfast isn’t enough, consider finding a hotel that has a kitchen right in the room. Many extended stay hotels offer this option, which is one of the road trip essentials that can save you a lot of money on food. 


Eating out even for two meals a day each day you’re out exploring can be extremely expensive. If you have a kitchen available in your room, you can save money by running to the local grocery store and buying some food you prepare yourself.


With the money you save by cooking yourself, you’re sure to stay within your budget and maybe even have extra money to splurge on other things you were hoping to do along the way.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #13 – Plan Ahead for Tolls

Depending on where you’re traveling, tolls could be a common occurrence on many roads. While passing one toll doesn’t seem like the end of the world, having to pay multiple tolls can certainly take a chunk out of your trip money.


You may think an alternative route that takes you a few minutes out of the way to avoid tolls isn’t worth it, but some tolls can be a hefty charge. If your route is one that has multiple stops, you may find yourself spending more than you may realize. And that will likely cost you more than the fuel you would have used to simply take a route without tolls. 


It isn’t too difficult to find a way around those costly tolls, either. One of the great travel tips is to check for alternative routes, as you can likely find one right on your phone’s GPS if you’re using it. They will often alert you to tolls and show routes you can take to avoid them.


Enjoy Your Road Trip While Staying on Budget

You might think a vacation won’t be as fun if you’re sticking to a strict budget. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to save money while still having fun. Using these travel tips can help you keep your adventure costs low, and maybe even allow you to splurge on something you didn’t think you could afford on your trip.


No matter what kind of road trip you take and how you stay on budget, just remember the key is to have fun and enjoy the ride.

Tags: How to hit the road on a budget How to travel on a budget Road trip road trip essentials Road trips Travel travel tips

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