Road trips are just as good as they look in films. They’re a chance to explore new places with your friends by your side, experiencing a sense of adventure you thought was confined to stories. They can, however, be an expensive experience and a hassle to plan, leading to a lot of wasted time. Instead of worrying about how much money and time you’re going to waste on your next road trip read this guide to saving both and having the best journey on your life.
Streamline paying for fuel
If there’s one thing every road trip needs, it’s fuel. Well, fuel and a vehicle, but they come together anyway. Filling up the car or van can be one of the biggest time and money sinks wherever you’re travelling, but especially on a road trip. It can lead to frequent stops, paying premium prices and arguments about who’s put in enough money.
One way to get around all of that and make the driving portion of your trip as cheap and efficient as possible is to get a fuel card. These cards, like the kind produced by iCompario, are a great way to quickly cover costs at the pump. Instead of pooling around for cash in the back of the car or splitting the payments across multiple cards you can make one quick card payment. Most fuel cards will come with some kind of special discount, meaning you’re saving a little each time you fill-up. Ever had an argument when you’ve gotten home from a road trip about who owes what and had to break out the receipts? Fuel cards eliminate that issue by putting everything onto one single, easily manageable card.
Plan your route
While part of the fun of a road trip is ending up in new places and the surprises that spring up along the way, planning your route in advance can make sure you don’t waste time driving in the wrong direction or taking the wrong turn on the motorway. You don’t have to time your movements to the minute, just have a base plan to work from.
Take some time in the days before you head off to learn the fastest routes, or the best routes if you’re going for a more scenic drive. Don’t just set off and drive. Have an idea about where you’re more likely to hit heavy traffic and use travel planner apps to keep an eye on road news. You’ll save money on fuel not waiting in traffic and avoid having a lot of frustrated back seat drivers.
Ultimately your road trip is about the time you spend out of the car, so try and find the best way to do that the most.
Check the car
Is there a bigger waste of time and money on a road trip than being sat on the side of the road waiting for someone to come and fix your broken-down vehicle? There’s an easier way, and all you need to do is make sure it’s in working order before you set off.
Getting someone to come out and check your car when it’s beyond repair is much more expensive and disappointing than spending a couple of hours tinkering before the trip. Make sure everything from tyre pressure to oil level is correct, and pay a professional if you have to, it will cost less than an emergency situation in the long run.
Make sure the driver packs a small repair kit for less drastic issues you can fix yourself. Nothing will derail a road trip, morally and literally, faster than being forced off the road like that.
Your vehicle breaking down is disheartening, but turning up in a new city and realising you have nowhere to stay is more likely to cause big fights. Nobody wants that, fights ruin road trip memories. Don’t just make sure you’ve got a place booked, have a backup plan in case something goes terribly wrong.
Make a booking and call a few days before to confirm you definitely have the room. Hostels and BnB’s are very rarely available on the night, so make sure everyone has a place to sleep after a long day travelling and a couple of drinks. Paying for a place on the night can also be a lot more expensive.
You can always also consider camping. Weather permitting it’s a fun, and much cheaper, way of getting a good nights sleep. Just make sure you have a booking for the campsite or you can actually camp where you stop. A tranquil night under the stars can be just what a road trip called for, until you get chased off the grounds.
Nobody likes service station prices (or the food for that matter), so save yourself the money by pre-making and packing your meals. Shop as a group and make some sandwiches, or something more exciting, in the morning before you set off.
You’ll not only save money buying food like this, but it’ll create a nice communal feel in the group and you won’t crash after a couple of hours because you’ve been living off fast food. Stopping off every day for a picnic can be a great way to break up long drives.
Road trips are all about the journey, but there’s no reason for that journey to be overly expensive. Don’t waste money on things you could save on, and don’t waste the time of your life in lines, scratching around for places to stay or sitting on the side of the road waiting to get picked up.