The great American road trip remains a top choice for family getaways, solo travelers and everyone in between. With travel restrictions becoming more relaxed, more people are hitting the road for vacation: 208 million Americans have travel plans in 2022, with 80% of them planning to road trip, according to a survey by The Vacationer.
With such a wide variety of natural beauty to take in, it’s no wonder millions of people are looking to embark on scenic driving tours across the country. However, it’s easy for expenses to add up while you’re on the road, especially amid price increases on everything from gas and food to hotels and tickets to local attractions. While the cost of travel could be seen as a deterrent for would-be vacationers, there are plenty of ways to stretch your road trip budget without compromising your experience.
To save money on a trip, keep these road trip tips in mind:
Plan your meals and eat satiating snacks
For many cross-country travelers, snacks are a core part of the road trip experience. Before you stop by the gas station to stock up, think about how you can get the most bang for your buck when it comes to on-the-go meals. For starters, see if there’s anything you can bring from home to eat during the drive. Any leftovers or ready-to-eat food that’s already in your fridge is easy to pack up for free.
If you need to get additional food to fuel yourself on the trip, avoid costly single-serve items and opt for things that the entire car can share. Go for food choices that are more satiating and will keep you full for longer. Things like trail mix, fruits and veggies and high-protein meats will fill you up and keep you energized for quite a while.
Get the best price on gas with helpful apps
Covering thousands of miles on a road trip means you’ll also be going through a lot of gas, and with the national average gas price surpassing $5 a gallon you’ll definitely want to get a bargain wherever you can. Without proper planning, you could be at the mercy of whichever gas station you come across when that low fuel warning light appears on the dash. Thankfully, there are a number of different apps available to steer you toward savings when it comes time to refuel. With these apps, you’ll be able to see gas prices along your route and find the cheapest option before you have to stop.
Be sure to make the most of these services. If you already have some fuel points, now is the time to use them. Some of these apps can even put money back in your pocket with rewards and cash back when you spend on gas. Driving is one of the cheaper ways to travel, especially if you’re taking the whole family with you, and with the help of these tools, you’ll be able to save even more during your road trip.
Pay ahead for cheaper parking
Similar to planning your gas station trips in advance, you’ll want to sort out your parking situation ahead of time if you plan on stopping in any cities or major metro areas. Finding parking in popular tourist cities like New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco can be next to impossible during peak travel season. Not only can parking be a time-consuming hassle when you’re downtown, but costs can add up quickly when you rely on curbside pay-to-park spots, parking garages and parking lots.
With the help of apps like SpotHero, ParkWiz or any of the other helpful parking apps, you can easily find a spot before you arrive. By paying for parking in advance you won’t have to circle the block waiting for a spot to open up and you can even get discounted rates that aren’t available elsewhere. Not to mention you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’re parked in a safe location and won’t run the risk of getting a costly parking ticket.
Get a deal on your accommodations
If your road trip spans multiple days, you’ll need to find a safe and affordable place to get some sleep. Without proper planning, booking a place to stay can put a serious dent in your budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you secure the best deal on your hotel, motel, campsite or other overnight accommodation.
The tried and true travel websites like booking.com, hotels.com, Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity are excellent places to find hotel rooms across the country. If you’re looking for something more unique and off the beaten path, try apps like Airbnb and Vrbo where you can work directly with the property owners to book everything from apartments and lofts to cabins and treehouses.
If you’re loyal to a certain hotel chain, now is the time to reap the rewards. Cash in on your loyalty points and see what bonuses you can get from being a repeat customer. Also be sure that you’re not paying extra for amenities you won’t be using. If there’s a smaller, cheaper room that you’re comfortable with, there’s no shame in downgrading to save a bit of money on your trip.
Save on national park visits with a U.S. Park Pass
Our last road trip tip is for campers, hikers, bikers, nature lovers and anybody else who appreciates some time in the great outdoors. With over 2,000 national parks around the country, these destinations include some of the most iconic natural wonders in the world. These parks often mark the finish line for many travelers’ road trips, with some of the best road trips including stops at multiple parks along the way.
Without a pass, visiting national parks can add up fast. Entrances to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Zion are currently $35 per person. The cost of a U.S. Park Pass is just $80 and includes unlimited entry to every national park and federal recreation land in the country for a whole year. With so many of these parks dotting the map, it wouldn’t be hard to get your money’s worth in one trip alone. Whether you’re driving by car, RV or even taking a scenic motorcycle trip cross-country, the U.S. Park Pass covers the cost of parking your vehicle in addition to your entry fee.
Cross-country auto transport made easy
Not everyone has the time for a full cross-country road trip, but they’d still like to have their own vehicle at their vacation destination. With a professional auto transporter like Montway, you can ship your vehicle to and from anywhere in the country, saving you time that you would otherwise spend driving.
Montway Auto Transport works with carriers that specialize in moving every type of vehicle including cars, trucks, EVs, SUVs, motorcycles, ATVs and even golf carts. We have arranged shipments for over one million vehicles while maintaining a 4.7-star rating from more than 80,000 customer reviews. With these achievements, Montway has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s leading auto transporters.