Thinking of taking a road trip doing spring break? Or how about a long weekend off? Whatever the occasion may be, road trips are always a good time. Not only are you going to a final destination, but you get many more destinations along the way. You get to see exquisite scenery right from the comfort of your own car. Road trips have always been in my life, and my family and I have always driven to places instead of flying so I feel like I can call myself a road dog now.
Trips can add up quickly and it’s important to know categories which you can cut down on. I have accumulated different tips and tricks and different things to keep in mind to plan a road trip on a budget. For a college student, this is a must if you want to play and study while still keeping your budget.
First things first.
Who are you going with?
This could be decided before or after you decide where you’ll be going. Some friends want to relax and rejuvenate and others want an adventure-packed trip. Just keep in mind that you will be travelling with these people and that friends can have difficulties on the road. Bring someone who you know is down for the trip, for what it is.
Where are you going?
Where do you want to cross of your bucket list first? Havasu falls? Yosemite? Crater Lake?
Consider location because gas or air travel will be the biggest chunk of your budget, along with food. More days = more food & gas. You want to be able to enjoy the place you are, without looking in your wallet every hour. Find a balance between having a good time and being money savvy.
How will you be getting there?
Plane, train, or automobile? Driving will always be the cheapest, slowest option unless you find a great deal otherwise. If you can handle being in the car for the duration of the trip and don’t mind open roads, definitely drive. Plus you’ll get all the scenery as well.
Also keep in mind how many hours your destination is and whether or not you will need a hotel. If you do, expect to pay another $60-100. You always have the option of sleeping in your car too. I like this option a lot (if you can be somewhat comfortable) because you spend $0 and you can just wake up and hit the road!
How long will you be staying?
Depending on where you’re going and how long you’re planning on staying, keep in mind the cost of food for each day and other activities you might decide to do. If you’re camping, will you bring all the food you need? Will you need to stop and get some fresh things in a nearby town as well? Backpacking?
If you’re staying at hotel, I highly recommend choosing one with a continental breakfast. You can wake up and eat, and get on the road in a short amount of time. Most hotels offer this these days.
Budget Before You Go
Get your finances together make a budget for your trip. I use this website to estimate how much gas will cost me. Then I find out where we will be staying at our destination and anywhere along the way. Then budget in food and snacks, and whatever’s left over can be used for activities!
Budget Example: 2 people / 4 day trip Reno, Nv to Supai, AZ
$200 – 3 nights stay
$150 – gas
$150 – food & snacks
$100 – extra activities / unexpected expenses
Trip Total = $600
Remember to either keep your receipts or write everything you spend down to make sure you don’t go over.
And that’s it, have an amazing time and remember to be present in every moment.