Road Trip Savings

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Travel and road trips are such a part of our family. 
Even before our son was born, the two of us were on the road exploring.  It never cost much to throw a tent in the car and go for the weekend. When our son did arrive over eleven years ago, the dynamic changed and the three of us hit the road to see the unseen.

We quickly realized budgeting and finding ways to save a little over the course of a year and during the trip was a necessity.  It can be an uncomfortable subject for many, but we made it a priority.  Some of our more successful road trip adventures have been multi-week, cross country travels.  Coming home without lingering bills is the icing on the cake.

Below are a few real-world examples where you can save yourself a ton of money on a road trip without impacting your travels one single bit.  

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  • My favorite – throw a cooler in the trunk and eat your breakfast/lunch on the go. We are the king of the peanut butter and jelly. We found it’s not worth the money or time being bogged down in the middle of the day. Find a cool place to stop, stretch your legs, maybe grab some local information and get back on the road. We estimate the savings has approached $200-$300 each trip.

  • National Park Pass – this is HUGE and probably a no-brainer. Good for a year from the date of purchase, this is “must have” for any journey to National Parks/Monuments. Even with the recent price increase, it’s still an absolute bargain when you consider how underfunded the park system is. $80 or less – click here to find more information.

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  • This is Hashtag 59, right? Camping over hotels should be of no surprise, right? Yes, in today’s world the hotel and Airbnb have their place, but if you are taking a turn in one of the National Parks, state park, national recreation site, etc. then go camping! Whether you pay for a ready to go site or get a permit for backwoods camping, there is nothing quite like it. $25-$35/night will save you hundreds over the course of a week.

  • Seems like over the course of a year, my family seems to receive dozens of gift cards and/or merchandise credits whether through gifting, promotions, returns, etc. Instead of tossing them in a drawer never to be seen again, we decided to start a “vacation gift card” box. Every time we receive one, it gets tossed in the box. As I prepare for our upcoming trip, there is a plethora of restaurant, store and gas cards at our disposal. The potential out of pocket savings is around $400.

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  • If you are going to drive thousands of miles, rent a vehicle and know when to shop. This became evident after driving a 12,000-mile road trip. I discovered I could have spent $550 for a two-week rental and saved the wear and tear on my personal vehicle. The best time to reserve a vehicle is about 90 days out from your trip. Don’t be afraid to make that reservation and then cancel it when you find a better deal. It’s hard to quantify a dollar amount, but the oil changes alone save you $200 on a long trip.

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As always, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to your travel.  Priorities and economic viability will vary from person to person.  My suggestion is to budget and look for small areas to save over the course of several months or a year.  You’ll be shocked at how little it takes to amass a nice sum for travel.   There is way too much out there not to challenge yourself!

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite money saving hacks from the road.  Be sure to use the comment section.

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Jason M and the Hashtag 59 Team