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

Life can become stressful at times, especially when you have a lot going on, for example, at school or work. This can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed. Taking a break/road trip from all the stress can be a nice way to refresh yourself. With the right road trip essentials, you can make the most out of your road trip without breaking the bank. 



Taking a break and going on a vacation does not necessarily mean jetting off to exotic tourist attractions/ locations, as there’s much to be seen and explored locally via road trips.



Road trips are a wonderful way to explore various destinations, take in beautiful scenery, and have fun with some road trip games along the way. You can embark on a road trip with your family, friends, or as a couple, or even go solo if you prefer.


And if you’re unsure of where to travel, you can start by using Discoverybit’s travel directory to plan your road trip. To see how it works, check out the video below.



Cost-Effective Road Trip Essentials 

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 for gas can cause you to spend more money than you initially planned if you are not frugal with your expenses.


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


There are various ways to save money on your road trip without compromising on the experience(s) you desire. So, what are these essentials for a road trip that can keep your journey enjoyable and thrilling without breaking the bank?


Road Trip Essentials Tip #1 – Check Your Insurance Policy

Many unexpected things can happen while you’re on your road trip. And while you may think that cheap car insurance is the best way to save money, it may not always be the case.


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


Having 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. Or the car that you’re driving might break down on the side of the road. 


Inclement weather may cause the hotel you planned to stay in to shut down. Or your vehicle could get broken into and all your belongings taken.


Though these seem unlikely, the worst-case scenario is that they do happen. And it’s best to be prepared. That’s where travel insurance comes 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. 


Travel insurance may seem like 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 you 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 foods are typically cheap, they are not great for your health and are also expenses you don’t always need to have. 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 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 doesn’t mean you can’t stop for fast food. However, minimizing the costs of food and drink stops by packing your own meals can help you stay on budget.


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

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


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 hit the road during these peak times, so prices will typically be higher than they would during the off-season.


This implies that, during peak season, you may end up paying more for things like gas and lodging. This is because the prices are typically higher during these times. The price difference is not usually just a small increase. When you add up all the costs, you may end up spending more than you originally budgeted for your travel expenses.


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 from many travel hassles. 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 be unaware of 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.


Being mindful of your expenses can be easier when you physically see your money leave your pocket. Using a card to pay for things can sometimes result in reckless spending, as you may not be as conscious of your finances as you are when using cash.


Setting aside a certain amount of money each day is one of the best travel tips that ensures 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 are on a road trip and need to refuel, it is tempting to stop at the first gas station you see off the exit. However, doing this repeatedly can end up costing you extra money.


Gas stations located right off main highways and roads usually have higher prices compared to those located a little farther away. These gas stations take advantage of the fact that they are the most accessible stop.


To save some money on gas during your road trip, consider traveling a little further out to fill up. This is one of the essential money-saving tips that can help you save a good amount of money, considering how frequently you will need to refuel on a road trip.



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

You don’t have to camp every night of your trip, but if you don’t mind the great outdoors, packing a tent on your getaway may help you effectively save 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 getting 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 the ones under the stars is one of the best travel tips that will help you stay on budget.


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

When you’re in vacation mode, you are certainly 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. The vendors know that people will pay for their expensive services or products, so they take advantage of the situation.


You may be overlooking the number of free or low-cost options that 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.


In summary, 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 specific locations along your journey, then be 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.


It’s a good idea to plan your activities. This way, you can allocate your money for the events that you must attend without overspending. You can then utilize the rest of your free time by engaging in free or affordable activities to keep your expenses under control.


Road Trip Essentials Tip #10 – Check Your Travel Points

Travel or rewards points or cash back from credit cards could be another source of funds to use during your travels. The type of rewards would depend 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.  These should provide you with all the information you need to determine your eligibility 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, especially if you plan on staying multiple nights in hotels.


As previously mentioned, meals can add up! Sit-down meals are even pricier than just ordering through a drive-thru. This is because you’re paying for the food plus, in most cases, a tip, which is usually more expensive.


If you’re planning to stay in a hotel anyway, book one that offers a complimentary breakfast. This saves you from spending money on meals, which could imply more savings for other things that you want to do.


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

In addition to complimentary breakfast, 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 eating out. 


Eating out can be very expensive. However, if you have access to a kitchen, you can save money by purchasing groceries and preparing your own meals.


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 want to do along the way.



Road Trip Essentials Tip #13 – Plan Ahead for Tolls

When going on a road trip, you may encounter tolls on many roads depending on your location. While paying one toll may not seem like a big deal, multiple tolls can add up and take a significant amount of money from your travel budget.


Although taking an alternative route that takes you a few extra minutes to avoid tolls may not seem worth it, some tolls can be quite expensive. If your journey involves several toll stops, you may end up spending more than you realize. This could cost you more than the fuel you would have used to take a toll-free route.


Fortunately, it is not difficult to find alternative routes to avoid costly tolls. One of the best travel tips is to check your phone’s GPS, which can often alert you to tolls and show you alternative routes to avoid them.


Enjoy Your Road Trip While Staying on Budget

Taking a vacation can be costly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time while staying within your budget. There are numerous ways to save money and still relish your trip. By following some travel tips, you can trim down your expenses and even have the opportunity to treat yourself to something you previously thought was unaffordable.


Keep in mind that no matter what kind of journey you embark upon or how you handle your expenditures, the most crucial thing is to have fun and enjoy every moment of your adventure.

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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