Summer Road Trip on a Budget | Mountain West Farm Bureau Insurance

Summer Road Trip on a Budget!

Road Trip

Looking to take a fun, memorable vacation this summer? This year, you may want to skip purchasing expensive airfare or traveling internationally and simply stick to the traditional family road trip. A road trip allows you to see the country at a slow pace and create your own journey.

Though taking a road trip may seem like a cheap vacation option, it can end up costing you far more than you’d think if you don’t properly prepare. Consider all the expenses included, and make sure you budget properly before the final cost puts you in the red. Here are some ways to keep your family road trip budget friendly:

1) Plan the Route

Planning your budget ahead of time is vital to control spending, and you can start by mapping the route you plan to travel to determine how many days and miles your trip will encompass. Once you deduce the distance and time, you can create a budget for gas, food, and lodging, and also know what you will need to pack for the trip.

Also, be sure to research construction zones beforehand, and prepare alternate routes, especially if you’ll be traveling through these areas during high traffic hours.

2) Create a Budget

Once you’ve totaled the amount of days and miles of your trip, you can create a budget for gas, vehicle costs, food, cheap lodging, and sightseeing.

First determine how much you have to spend on your trip. If your budget is tight, prioritize. Is it more important for you to enjoy the best food on your trip, or stay in a nice hotel? Or do you want to visit a slew of attractions and don’t care if you’re camping and cooking out of the back of your car?

Once you calculate about how much gas will cost, you can determine how much of your budget remains for food, lodging, and sightseeing. Disburse the money accordingly, applying the bulk of your trip money toward those prioritized activities, and keep track of what you’re spending along the way.

3) Calculate Gasoline Costs

The cost of gasoline is a non-negotiable expense, and will determine how much money you have left for the “fun stuff” on your trip. Use the AAA Fuel Calculator to estimate your cost for gas: Enter the starting point, destination, and your car’s make, model, and year to determine how much you’ll spend.

Save money on gas by following these simple tips:

  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated. Slightly deflated tires can decrease gas mileage.
  • Pack light. The more weight in your car, the worse your mileage.
  • Maintain a steady speed by using cruise control when possible.
  • Avoid rapid acceleration and braking, which uses more gas.
  • Park your car and walk whenever possible if you want to explore an area.
  • Download the GasBuddy smartphone app to find the cheapest prices for gas.
  • Search for hotels or casinos that offer gas cards with your stay.

4) Factor in Vehicle Expenses

Before the trip, be sure your car is in good condition. This not only saves money on gas, but it can keep you safe and help you avoid emergency repairs while on the road. If you’re car needs work or DIY car maintenance, get it done before you leave on vacation.

Here are a few tips for pre-road trip maintenance:

  • Take your car to a mechanic for a general check-up, including the battery, fluid levels, wiper blades, tires, and lights, or simply check these items yourself. Fix problems as needed.
  • If you’re not already enrolled, see if you can purchase roadside assistance on your car insurance plan.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with a spare tire and equipment for changing it, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares, reflectors, blanket, water, a first aid kit, and non-perishable food.

5) Set Aside Funds for Food, Lodging, and Sightseeing

Determine how much you have left to spend on food, lodging, and sightseeing, and keep an accurate record of these expenses. Remember the purpose of your trip: If it’s to see the sights, put the bulk of your remaining dollars there, or if you’re a foodie, sleep in cheap motels or camp so you can enjoy the best restaurants your route has to offer.

Eating and sleeping on a road trip differs from an ordinary vacation, as you can easily store food, a grill, and camping supplies with you. This can save you a lot of money, as you can bring food to prepare instead of eating out at restaurants every meal.

Try these suggestions for saving money on food and lodging while on the road:

  • Venture off the highway for a break from fast food, and experience the local cuisine.
  • Pack filling, healthy snacks like granola bars, nuts, and crackers. Avoid snacks that easily go bad, melt, or are messy.
  • Avoid impulse food and drink purchases at gas stations. Pack ahead or stop at a grocery store.
  • Take a small, portable grill. You’ll save money by shopping at a grocery store or farmer’s market.
  • Since you have room for the equipment, consider camping instead of staying at a hotel.
  • Book hotels and motels with a flexible cancellation policy. With weather, car troubles, and unplanned events, road trips can be unpredictable.
  • Find lodging coupons at rest stops, gas stations, or on the websites of official state guides.

6) Find Affordable Entertainment

Sightseeing and entertainment is a part of any vacation, but it becomes especially important on road trips to break up the journey. Here are ways to find free or cheap things to do:

  • Visit the official tourism websites of the states and cities you plan to visit. Most sites will provide links to free things to do.
  • See if any museums in the areas you plan to visit offer free days.
  • Travel during the summer months. Warm weather means free fairs, festivals, art shows, concerts, and more. Plus, you can save money by camping.
  • Check out an area’s parks, art districts, or libraries, which often offer free concerts, lectures, or plays.
  • Bring a frisbee, a football, a badminton set, or any other athletic gear that can provide you with free fun and exercise.
  • If you’re a student, bring your ID card to receive student discounts.

Road trips are an exciting, fun way to spend your vacation. Rather than flying from one destination to another, traveling by car allows you to enjoy all the sights in between.

Just remember to stay in your budget and, most importantly, stay safe. Drive cautiously and be aware of your surroundings. Also, take frequent breaks during the day to stretch your legs and relax, and never drive if you are feeling tired. It might be tempting to try to drive just another hour, or just another 50 miles, but there is no sense in putting you, your family, or other drivers at risk.

Happy Travels!

Do you have road side assistance? Talk to your local Farm Bureau agent today!

Information from Money Crashers

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