Published March 19, 2014
It is time to plan summer vacations. If you are planning to fly to your destination, now is the best time to start setting up price alerts for the plane tickets and signing up for credit cards if you want to use the miles and perks that come with carrying a particular airline card. With an infant, we don't relish the thought of flying; so this year we're looking into a road trip for vacation. Just because we can drive to our destination doesn't mean we don't have to plan for it. A road trip can easily break the budget too. Here are some of the best tips I compiled to help us keep our expenses low.
PREPARE YOUR CAR
PLAN YOUR TRIP IN DETAIL
Some people like spontaneous road trips; I like to plan. Planning is part of the enjoyment for me. Planning helps me keep my trip within budget and still allows me to discover cool, new places to visit.
Lose your car in big cities: In some cities, the parking can run hundreds of dollars for a few days. Look up the parking rates of the hotels and the parking garages near the attractions before you go. Consider parking in a garage just outside the city and taking public transit too. For example, when visiting New York City, you can save quite a bit by leaving your car in a garage near a transit station in New Jersey and taking the train into the city. Taking your car to every attraction, paying for parking and the tolls in a city like New York will just add needless expense to your vacation.
PACK THE RIGHT GEAR
After wearing flip flops to Chicago in early fall, I learned to pack the right gear. Checking the weather at your destination and packing all the right gear will help you save a lot of money and the need to frantically look for a place to buy winter gear. Think about how you will store these items in the car too, so they're accessible when you need them.
LOOK FOR DEALS ON LODGING AND MEALS ON THE WAY
SAVE MONEY ON GAS
Map out your optimal route: You don't have to map a strict route -- where's the fun in that? But it is always better to have a map on hand instead of getting stuck somewhere without cell signal.
Plan gas stops before your leave the house: I have been using Gasbuddy.com for years now. It is a great way to plan the gas stops instead of driving around looking for a cheaper gas station. You can also use GasBuddy to check the approximate cost of the trip so you can budget for it.
Sign up for related rewards programs: Is there one particular chain that you will be using most of your trip? Sign up for their rewards program. You might be able to save few cents a gallon or get some snacks for free at their convenience store.
FIND FREE OR LOW-COST ENTERTAINMENT ALONG THE WAY
If you have the flexibility with dates, look up the free or discounted days in museums and parks, and plan your trip around those dates. Even if you don't, try googling "free attractions [your destination city]" and that should point you in the right direction. If you don't have the time to look through all the results, try the AAA TripTik travel planner app or the Yelp app to get you started in the right direction.
What do you do to save money on your road trips?
The original article can be found at FiveCentNickel.com:
How to save money on road trips