How To Set A Road Trip Budget

road trip budget cooler

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Road trips are so much fun, especially when you get to end up in a fabulous destination! While the vacation in the end is super fun, the road trip there is equally as fun and important. Vacations are costly as it is, but making stops on the road trip can add up extremely fast and leave you with a smaller budget at your destination. There are a few ways to keep your road trip budget in line and make sure that you’re only spending as much as you absolutely have to on the road!

road passing under the plane trees

How To Set A Road Trip Budget

1. Pack snacks

Packing snacks prevents you from stopping frequently to buy expensive junk food on the road. Gas stations hike the prices of snack foods because they know they will sell no matter what. In essence, they want you to depend on them for food on the road. By packing your own snacks, you can save a lot of money on your road trip. The easiest way to do this is to bring a cooler, and pack it with fruit, cheese, crackers, and things that are easily transportable.

Kids love Lunchables, but they can be expensive. Try making your own for quick lunches. You can get divided food containers with lids from the dollars store or even thrift stores to make them and fill them with cheese cubes, meat slices, fruit and crackers.

road trip budget for food

More Ways Save Money on Road Trip Food

We already touched on the idea to pack your own snacks. Bring a cooler full of drinks too. Convenience stores are notorious for being expensive when it comes to snacks and beverages. If you buy a larger sized box of chips, crackers or even fruit, you can portion them out for snacks for a much lower price. Buying juice boxes and bottle juice and water will be much cheaper if you buy it before heading out.

If the idea of a cooler full of melting ice is not your idea of convenience, try freezing your drinks before you go and having them ready to drink as they melt. It will keep them cold and some can be enjoyed as slushies for an extra fun treat.

Bring refillable containers for drinks.

If you want to be able to fill up drinks on the go, bring refillable containers. Most gas stations allow people to refill containers for a very low price, sometimes even close to free. This is usually cheaper at truck stops where they have specials for truckers.

Map out where you will eat.

Look for deals along the way before you go so you know where you will be stopping for meals as well as being able to stay within your budget. Look for chain restaurants that offer “kids eat free” specials.

Stop at grocery stores along the way to get stuff for meals rather than eat at expensive tourist trap restaurants.

Most communities have grocery stores right off the road where you can buy cheaper deli hot food like fried chicken or stuff to make sandwiches. Plan to picnic in your car or at a local park in the area.

Get free meals at hotels.

If your road trip will lead you to need to stay in hotels half way through, make sure to stay in hotels that offer free meal options such as a free breakfast. This is one way to avoid having to eat out when you leave in the morning. Another great way to save on snacks with this? Most of these places have fruit like bananas, oranges and apples. Have each family member take a piece with you to go and you have a snack for on the road as well!

2. Bring gallons of water.

Bringing gallons of water on your trip will keep you extremely hydrated and is much more cost efficient. Not only is soda unhealthy, but it’s extremely expensive. You get a lot more bang for your buck by drinking gallons of water on your trip!

3. Use a smart phone app to find gas stations.

You want to use an app like Gas Buddy or Waze so you can look up gas prices near where you are. These apps display a list of gas stations with their respective prices so you can find the cheapest gas in your area. This can add up to be huge road trip savings because some gas stations are strategically priced based on their location, and had you driven a few miles farther, you could’ve saved a lot more! So be sure to check the prices before buying.

4. Shop around for hotel rooms.

Plan hotel rooms and stops before you even leave the house. It’s easy to just decide to drive until you’re tired, and then stop. But this doesn’t leave you with much room to budget and plan. You’ll want to shop around for prices beforehand and plan your stops so that you have an idea of how much it’s going to cost!

Follow these guidelines for a well budgeted road trip and you’ll be glad you did! What other tips do you take into consideration when you go on a road trip? Let me know in the comments below!

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