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How to Save Money on a Road Trip: 30+ Budget Travel Tips

Dreaming of an epic cross country road trip, but don’t want to blow your budget on gas, food, and lodging? With some strategic planning and budget-friendly hacks, you can take the all-American road trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank.

This article shares 50+ practical tips to plan an affordable road trip getaway. Learn how to save money on accommodations, eat for less on the road, find cheap gas, and maximize free activities. Use these road trip budget tips to cut costs at every turn so you can travel further for less.


Plan Your Route

Optimize your route to save:

– Take the scenic route on free highways over toll roads

– Plan legs under 200 miles for better fuel efficiency

– Search “cheap gas near me” and map out pit stops accordingly

– Use apps like Roadtrippers to build affordable road trip itineraries

– Avoid driving through major cities during rush hour


Lodging Hacks

Sleep for less on the road:

– Camp in tents or RVs at low cost campgrounds

– Stay at bargain roadside motels outside city centers

– Use apps to find deals at budget hotels and hostels

– Redeem points for free hotel nights with travel cards

– Crash with friends and family along your route

– Try home swaps to save on accommodations


Save on Food/Drink

Reduce dining out costs:

– Pack snacks, non-perishables, water, and lunch supplies

– Cook meals at campsites when possible

– Grocery shop for any supplies you need along the way

– Avoid buying snacks/drinks at inflated convenience store prices

– Research the best bargain eateries in destinations using Yelp

– Use restaurant deals and coupon apps when you do dine out


Find Cheap Gas

Use gas savings strategies:

– Use apps like GasBuddy to find cheap gas prices nearby

– Take advantage of gas station loyalty rewards programs

– Pay cash – some stations charge extra for credit card purchases

– Fill up at wholesale clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club

– Avoid premium gas when regular will do

– Make sure tires are properly inflated for optimal fuel economy


Sightsee for Less

Enjoy free and affordable attractions:

Hike and explore beautiful public lands and nature

– Find free walking tours or pay-what-you-wish museums

– Attend free festivals, community events, and concerts

– Take advantage of park passes, tourist cards, and combo deals

– Travel during shoulder seasons when admission prices are lower

– Sign up for sites like Groupon that offer discounted activities


Pack Smart

Packing right saves money:

– Pack a cooler and reusable water bottle to reduce purchases

– Create capsule wardrobes that allow for outfit mixes and matches

– Limit yourself to a carry-on to avoid checked bag fees

– Use laundry pods to wash clothes in sinks and air dry when possible

– Pack multi-purpose items that serve different needs

– Share toiletry items with road trip companions


Getting creative with planning allows you to road trip on a budget. Use these money-saving tips to lower costs, see amazing sights, and focus on the adventure – not the price tag!