Ultimate Budget Tips for Summer Road Trip

By Alice Ross | BUDGETING

Apr 13
budget tips for summer road trip

One of the best things to do in summer with your friends or family is to get on a road trip. However, one of many people’s worry when it comes to summer road trip is the expenses. They think that road trip means spending a lot of money on gas, food, and accommodation. While it is true that spending money is necessary for this kind of trip, it doesn’t have to be expensive.


There are smart ways you can follow to cut down expenses while on your summer road trip.

Choose the Right Place to Go

The place of your destination plays a big part in your overall budget. When choosing a destination, you must find one that interests you but at the same time, meets your budget.

choosing the right place

If you have a limited budget, you may not want to go too. Either way, the main point of having a road trip is having a fun and relaxing time with people close to your heart.

Aside from knowing the place, knowing the duration of your stay should also be considered. If you only have a couple of days, you may not want to spend your time driving for long hours. Instead, choose a place where you can make the most of your time.

Choosing the Right Car

Choosing the right car for your road trip is another important thing to consider. After all, the car you’re using will be the one who will make the trip possible.

This is an apparently clear money management aspect that a lot of road trippers seem to ignore. Using the perfect car for the trip saves the most amount of money the gas money.

right car

As much as possible, choose a hybrid. Hybrid cars offer you instant saving money at the gas pump. For many states, there are also tax exemptions for drivers that choose to use vehicles that are energy efficient. Federal deductions for cars like these can get as high as thousands of dollars.

Using a diesel car is another smart option. You can easily find diesel cars that offer mileage similar to hybrids. You are also given the option to use bio-diesel or organic fuels.

Renting a Car for Road Trip

While using your own car for road trip makes a lot of sense because you can avoid rental fees, there are also a lot of reasons why one must opt for simply renting a car for their road trips. Here are those reasons.

Doesn’t Require Maintenance Cost

road trip

Long distance driving may lead car’s wear and tear, and maintaining it is not cheap. Bringing your own car on long distance trips may wear your car faster, which requires more frequent repairing. On top of that, it also adds to your drawback on the mileage in case you want to sell your car in the future. On the other hand, when you drive rented cars, you can save yourself from a lot of trouble and expenses.

No worrying about car breakdowns or car loss

One of the worst things that could happen in a road trip is a breakdown or for it getting lost! Your whole schedule could be ruined since you need to call for help. Then you need to fret over getting your car fixed so you are able to carry on your trip and get back home.

car drive

But you can avoid these headaches when you choose to rent a car. Simply contact them and get the car delivered to your doorstep.

Proffered travel time and schedule

By using rented cars, you no longer need to worry about having your flights missed. You could even make last-ditch plan changes to your destination without making addition fees. You can also make a stop whenever you want.


Ideal for bigger groups or family getaways especially for kids

Sometimes, the vehicles you drive to work is just not good as a car to drive for family trips. This is true if you have a smaller car that cannot accommodate extra equipment. You may also not want to bring your personal car to muddy places, especially if you are camping or going to music festivals. By renting a car, you can choose a vehicle that is ideal for the number of groups and for the purpose of your trip.

Drive a new car without having actual investments

car ride

Not all of us can afford a car, but this doesn’t mean you can experience the fun and excitement brought by road trips. Many reliable companies offer car rentals and even give a discount depending on how many days you are planning to use their car.

Now, let’s get on the top three biggest expenses you may have to deal with on your road trip and how you can save money from them.

Deal with expenses


You travel meals are probably the biggest budget breaker during road trips – you stop at every convenience store to rack up chips and soda, after all, snacking and convenience stores are ones of the best parts of road trips. However, these are not at all the best way to save money on your trip, and these bags of junk food add up to your overall expenses.

road trip food

If you really want to save money, plan on stocking up on cheaper chips at grocery stores even before the trip. by doing this, you can easily plan how much you are going to save and you will have to enough time to compare prices, unlike when you are dropping off a convenience store and simply grab the first ones you see.

Bringing a cooler or even just the Styrofoam one will definitely save you money as well. You can load it up with sodas from groceries instead of the ones you can get from 7-Eleven which are undeniably more expensive. Even better: carry gallons of water with you so everyone can drink when they get thirsty.

By doing this, you are not only saving time and money on your road trip; you are also helping the environment by not adding to plastic waste. 


Of course, gas is necessary whether you are using your own car or renting one. You can save gas by turning off the air conditioning of your car and resorting to using the fan or just leaving your windows down.


Sometimes, your car’s air-conditioning system burns through the gas faster than the machine itself.

Another good way of saving money on gas is easing off the pedal well before hitting the stop sign in order to take off in a slow way. Burning the rubber burns gas unnecessarily.

Before leaving, you may also want to fill the tires with air fully, as this also helps you in saving gas. 

gas station

As much as possible, avoid cruise control. You might not be aware of this, but this actually uses a lot more gas compared to controlling your speed manually.

Slow down. Not only you’re going to avoid potential accidents but you are also saving money on gas expenses. 


The place to stay also eats up a lot on your road trip expenses. No matter what kind of accommodation you choose, it will truly determine the cost you will have in your budget and how many bills you will walk away from this journey with.

road trip

Luckily, there are free ways for you to get accommodations for the night.

One of the best ways is to camp. By bringing your own tent, it would not be too difficult for you to find a camping spot, pitching a tent and spending a night there.


However, if you’d rather sleep in a bed, perhaps you can join Couchsurfing and find people who can accommodate your group for free. But in case there are too many of you, finding a hostel dormitory would be a cheaper alternative to a hotel.

At the very least, before you go on your trip, it is smart to estimate where you may stop and check out the possible accommodations available in the area. Know the average price. By knowing how much is the average prices, it will be easier for you to make a comparison. Also, if you decide to stay at a hotel or hostel, make sure to see if they offer free breakfast!

Bonus Tips

Find the best parking spots

One expense usually people forget about having a road trip, especially to major cities, is parking. Unfortunately, depending on your location, the cost of parking can be anywhere between $5 and $30 a day.

Look for parking garages before getting there in order to see where the cheapest place for you to park is. While some hotels offer free parking to their guests, this is not always the case. So, make sure to check on that too.

Find the best car rentals

car on the road

With the help of the internet, you can easily compare car rates right at your fingertips. As mentioned earlier, many companies offer discounts and deals to those who are planning to rent a vehicle for multiple days.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful to you in saving money on your next road trip. If you have other tips we forgot to mentioned let us know in the comment below!

Rating: 4.5 (2 votes)


About the Author

Hi, I’m Alice Ross, a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. I chose to live life on my own phase and live day by day while immersing myself in new experiences, new knowledge, and new people in a different walk of life I met along the way.

Leave a Comment:

Leave a Comment: