Traveling is expensive these days. Gas prices have increased tremendously in the recent years, the US dollar is losing ground, and increasingly more travelers can’t afford a holiday package in peak season. And yet, there’s hope. There are ways to enjoy a relaxing vacation without spending a fortune. Do you want to stay on the road all summer and come back home with money in your pocket? Sure you do. Here are seven budget road trip tips that can help you save and still enjoy all the perks of an amazing journey.

Seven budget road trip tips to keep your budget intact:

Forget flying & drive!

road trip empty highwayDriving is a lot cheaper than flying. Most airlines charge colossal fees for extra luggage, not to mention that tickets are quite expensive too. Why spend more when you can save? Driving allows you to take a break when you feel tired, as well as explore more than one city or country. Before hitting the road you might want to make a plan. Get familiar with the route, and settle on a budget. At some point, you might be compelled to take a break and lodge someplace to get some sleep.

Opt for local traveling

If you want to spend less on a vacation, you should travel locally. Some cities in the US are better known as jump cities. For instance, a trip to Vegas can easily turn into a trip to the beautiful Grand Canyon. Summer time is Sin City’s off season, so prices will be quite affordable. Hotels rooms, car rentals, and places of interest have special fees from July to September.

Located 250 miles from Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon is a must-see. The road trip will only take about 4.5 hours. If you need some more inspiration, head to San Francisco. Explore the city’s main attractions, and then move on to California’s wine country. Enjoy a trekking trip to the famous Washington DC monument and make the most of your journey.

Choose home rentals & apartments instead of resorts & hotels

Apart from being more economical, rentals give people the opportunity to explore a place as locals. Check the web for an affordable rental and make sure it is positioned near main places of interest and attractions. Airbnb.com and craigslist.com have excellent accommodation facilities that are both convenient and incredibly comfortable too.

Watch out for hidden accommodation fees

Most hotels have hidden fees for accommodation. Prior to making a reservation, you should check their website. Read the terms and conditions thoroughly, and call them if you have any doubts. It’s always best to talk to someone on the phone to make sure you’re not playing anything extra.

Plan your finances carefully

You shouldn’t go on a trip before settling on a budget. Start saving some money with at least two months in advance. Get a prepaid credit card and this way you won’t be tempted to go over budget. Make a detailed list and estimate accommodation costs, gas, meals and entertainment. Add a little extra just to be sure. A great idea would be to pay for expenses with your credit card; this way you’ll avoid unexpected fees and you won’t be tempted to buy everything you see in the local markets.

52 road trip tips

Map a route

Mapping a route is fundamental before hitting the road for your budget road trip. You need to be updated with recent traffic problems and road constructions; this will save gas and you won’t have to consider alternative roads. A GPS device can be of great assistance; however, you should also consult your state’s department of transportation website for more info.

Locate the best deals on attractions and meals

To save money during your budget road trip you’ll need to look at costs for meals and attraction fees and try to locate convenient deals online. Search for promotions, coupons and discounts on Groupon, and you’ll save at least 20%. If you have a budget of $300 for meals and attractions, an extra amount of $60 can easily be used for some other expenses.

Hit the road prepared and you won’t need any extra cash to enjoy the best vacation with your loved ones. Plan ahead, settle on a budget and drive to your preferred destination. Enjoy every city, feel like a local and you’ll remember this amazing trip for the rest of your life.

Want to plan a road trip, but don’t know where to start? Check out some of these great books for inspiration:

Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip

The Great American Roadtrip from Travel & Leisure

Lewis and Clark Great American Road Trips series

7 budget road trip tips for summer