Since national gas prices are hovering around $2.47 per gallon, way down from the past few year’s prices, now’s a better time than ever to take a road trip with the family. Stress and spend less by following these smart tips: here are ways to save money on road trips this year (and anytime you hit the road):
Do Your Prep Work:
Service your vehicle with a routine maintenance check to avoid a potential breakdown on the side of the road! Also, check tire air pressure for optimal gas mileage, and make sure you have a spare tire, jack and jumper cables. Alert your bank and credit card company of your trip with the cities you plan to visit. This will help the company monitor fraud but also ensure you have access to your funds. For help planning, download the Roadtrippers App to find landmarks, hiking trails and other notable stops along the way. I also like to stock a cooler with bottled water, soda and snacks. You can always find bags of ice at rest stops to keep the goods chilled and this strategy will save you up to a few hundred dollars spent on those various rest stop purchases.
Reduce Gas Costs:
Download the GasBuddy app to find the best-priced gas stations wherever you go and travel with cash as some gas stations charge 10-cents more per gallon for swiping a credit card. Take advantage of grocery and retail gas reward programs. Kmart’s FuelRewards offers 30-cents off gas coupons for every $50 spent, while Walmart recently introduced their Gas Rollback Program, providing 15-cents off per gallon with use of a Walmart Credit Card, MoneyCard or Bluebird by AmEx card.
Save on Meals:
For families travelling with children under 12, research restaurants that offer free kids’ meals to help alleviate your dining expenses. You can often find restaurant coupons too on your phone. Download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app and use the “nearby” function to map out restaurants near you that offer coupons. Or, print restaurant coupons before you hit the road. Before you head out, search for daily deals at your destination for dining and save 40 to 60-percent off.
Find Cheaper Accommodations:
Check the HotelTonight app for luxury accommodations at up to 70-percent off for last minute bookings or book through Hotels.com to accrue rewards toward a free night’s stay and take advantage of the site’s price match policy when you send a link for proof. Otherwise, keep it cheap and have fun camping! At CampingRoadTrip.com, you can find camping sites along your route, but don’t forget to pack a tent and sleeping bags because buying these on the road will cancel out the savings.
Be Mindful of Data Use:
Families on tiered-data plans should mind their mobile usage as all the activity like accessing maps or navigation, playing games and posting photos on social media may cause you to exceed your data cap. The overage fees can be tremendous if you don’t watch it. Download map directions at home or from a hotel WiFi so you use up data when looking for directions, and enable your WiFi locator so you can find free connections along the road. Track data usage and set alerts when nearing the cap with the 3GWatchdog App for Android and DataMan App for iPhone. Verizon, AT&T & Sprint allow you to check data usage in real time by dialing a special number, too.
featured image: Getty/Paul Bradbury