Skip to main content

6 tips for a safe and affordable road trip

What we'll cover

  • How to best prepare your car for the trip

  • Helpful mobile apps to save time and money

  • Packing and planning tips and tricks

Whether it's a weekend getaway or a cross-country adventure – road trips are a great way to spend your time off. Before you hit the road use these tips to plan ahead financially and prepare your car for the journey. That way you'll make positive memories and not remember the vacation for the hours you spent on the side of the road waiting for a tow.

1. Set a budget – or two

Prior to setting out on your trip, think through how much you plan to spend on your adventure. Between gas, food, lodging and entertainment, the costs can add up quickly. Once you have your total trip budget in mind, divide it into a daily budget. Every day doesn't have to be the same – account for entertainment costs on specific days or special meals as you pass through particular cities. While you are on your road trip, keep track of your costs so that you can adjust as needed throughout your trip.

2. Tune-up before you head out

It's important make sure your vehicle is road-trip ready. To do so, check to see if you need an oil change, ensure your tire pressure is where it should be and replace clogged air filters. Simple vehicle maintenance can help you avoid bigger problems, and it can help increase fuel efficiency. Also, make sure your registration and insurance are up to date and that your vehicle's spare tire is in good condition before you hit the road.

The more mindful of your speed you are, the more positively you can affect your fuel use throughout your road trip.

3. Travel efficiently

Did you know that accelerating from 55 to 75 mph is comparable to going from a compact car to a large SUV as far as burning fuel? The more mindful of your speed you are, the more positively you can affect your fuel use throughout your road trip.

Similarly, rapid acceleration and quick stops can lower your gas mileage. So, avoid either of those when you can. In addition to saving money at the pump, driving the speed limit can help keep you safe as well. The best part? It'll also help you avoid getting pulled over and costly speeding tickets.

4. Leverage mobile apps

Between planning out your trip to finding the cheapest gas and lodging prices, your phone can be a road trip game changer.

Navigation apps can help you plan the most efficient route from point A to point B while avoiding rush hours and high traffic areas. Once you have the route in mind, there are also apps to help you find the cheapest gas stations along the way.

Regardless of if you're a hotel amenity lover or you crave sleeping under the stars, take advantage of one of the many accommodations apps that can help you find everything from hotel rooms in your price range to camping sites across the country.

5. Consider switching to a rental car

Some vehicles, like SUVs, tend to guzzle more gas than a smaller sedan. If your car uses a lot of fuel, it may be cheaper to rent a vehicle that gets better gas mileage. If you choose to go the rental route, check with your insurance company to make sure it's covered in your policy. Some insurance plans automatically extend coverage to rental cars, allowing you to avoid paying for duplicate coverage.

6. Share the adventure and the costs

If you're embarking on the open road with a friend or family member, then you can share tasks like driving. Be sure to also keep track of expenses to split as well. To keep it simple, there are apps that can make tracking and splitting costs easy and stress free so you don't have to try and remember at the end of the trip what everything cost.

Open road memories

A road trip can stay with you forever. Keep these tips and tricks in mind to help savor those memories and enjoy your time on the open road while staying on budget.

Explore more

Save Spend Home

Read next

Money solutions and strategies sent straight to your inbox.

Tips and tools to help you build your best financial future.

Let's Connect