The summer road trip season is upon us. Already worried about the expenses piling up? Well, whether you’re traveling with friends or family to mountains, beaches, lakes, amusement parks, national parks or fancy resorts, rest assured there are ways to not go broke while touring the country by car.
It starts with a just-say-no approach to pricey coffees and endless snacks along the way. Munchies, it would seem, are the hungry road tripper’s downfall.
Keep in mind that the more money you save to and fro means the more you can spend having fun wherever you are ultimately traveling. It’s the little things – and they can really add up. So, here are five money-saving tips for road travelers – whether novice or pro.
- Pack your snacks.
Gas prices are ultra low, so Americans are spending less at the pump. But that doesn’t mean they’re spending less near the pump. It seems consumers are funneling their savings into gas station convenience stores. Two in three gasoline retailers said that in-store sales in the first quarter were higher than the same period in 2015, thanks to lower gas prices, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Nearly four out of five convenience store retailers said they expect this summer’s sales to increase over last year. But, of course, they didn’t know this blog post was coming.
So, bring your own easy, healthy eats like sandwiches and fruit and pack refillable water bottles to avoid spending money and making frequent pit stops for fatty foods and sugary drinks. Your tummy and wallet thank you. Oh, and you just might make it to your destination quicker, too. My family packs bags (yes, bags) of food to get us through our hotel stay and return trip. After all, isn’t packing all the comforts of home the point of driving?
- Bring a spare key.
More than 4 million motorists call in to report being locked out of their vehicles each year, according to AAA. Save the locksmith expense and save time getting to your destination by bringing a spare car key. For this reason, my husband and I each take our own set of keys when we’re hitting the road, even though we “need” just one set.
- Streamline your tunes.
Gone are the days of spending time and money downloading the perfect playlist. Instead, take advantage of a free trial on a streaming music site or download free podcasts. Many popular music streaming sites offer free trials ranging from one to six months. The best part is you can download your playlists with a click of a button and listen to them offline (a.k.a. while you’re cruising through no-man’s-land) without racking up data overage fees. Now, if I could just get my kids to listen to the podcasts I want to listen to. NPR’s Planet Money, anyone? Nope? Well, OK, I packed my headphones, too.
- Make your expenses work for you.
Before heading out on any road trip, light car maintenance is vital. Your oil change should be up to date and gas tank full. By Memorial Day, Americans had spent $15 billion on gas so far this year – on pace with the same period last year, according to AAA. This is not to mention the Bit O’ Honeys, beef jerky and cheese puffs covered in Tip #1.
Make these expenses go the extra mile for you by traveling with a credit card that offers rewards. For example, you could consider using the BuyPower Card from Capital One, because every purchase gives you Earnings toward the purchase or lease of any eligible, new GM vehicle. Plus, with Earnings that don’t expire, that means less need to worry about wear and tear on your car.
Once you hit the road, find the best gas prices by using our free app Fuelzee.
- Keep the change.
You never know when you’ll run into unexpected tolls, especially if you’re traveling a route you’ve never taken before. You also never know when you’ll have to hit up the hotel laundry room to do an emergency load. (If you ridden with children in the backseat, you know.)
Don’t waste time scraping the seats for loose change for the toll booth or laundromat. Don’t risk getting slapped with a missed toll bill and the fees that come with it. Don’t risk spending the rest of your summer trip hot and sticky because you have to ride with the windows down. Make sure to have at least five bucks’ worth of coins and small bills on hand.
Post was written by: Amy George