When I agreed to go on a road trip with my best friend this summer, I didn’t really think about how expensive the trip would be. I had always thought of road trips as a cheaper option. In fact, between gas, food, lodging, and attractions, a road trip can be incredibly expensive! As I began to look into our route for the trip, I was shocked at how much money the trip was going to take. I almost backed out of the trip before I realized there were ways to make the road trip less expensive. Now I’m sharing these money saving tips with you!
- Alternate lodging. Hotels are pricy! Even pretty gross looking hotels are $70 per night at the lowest. Although apps like hotwire can get you good deals, there is a cheaper option. Airbnb. When you book with Airbnb, you are basically renting out a room in a person’s house for the night. You can search on the website where you want to stay, and it will show all the rooms in the area, and you can slide a little bar so you only see locations within your budget! It seems a little scary, but we made sure to only stay in rooms with plenty of reviews, so we knew it would be safe! You are basically living in a stranger’s house for the night, which may seem weird, but we had so much fun doing it! We met many amazing people who knew all the local spots and gave us recommendations for things that we never would have found otherwise! Our most expensive lodging was only $17 per person! You can’t beat those prices.
- Stay out of major cities. If your goal is to see all the major cities on the east coast, it won’t be cheap. By staying in smaller cities and towns, we were able to get much cheaper lodgings. We also really enjoyed exploring the places we stayed! Smaller cities tend to have free parking and free attractions. On many days we just parked and spent our nights exploring the town/city.
- Avoid tourist attractions. On our road trip, the only time we paid for an attraction was to park at Niagara Falls ($5 each) and to go on a dark history tour ($8 each). The rest of the trip, our only costs were gas, food, and lodgings. Every city we went to, we asked our Airbnb hosts and googled free attractions that we could go to! Through our hosts, we found awesome locations, like one of the first cemeteries in the US, an abandoned subway full of graffiti, two waterfalls, museums, and many wonderful restaurants! The only day we struggled was in Salem, Massachusetts because it such a heavy tourism town. Even then it wasn’t impossible. If you truly want to save money, you can find so many amazing things to do that are completely free! You may not get to see the traditional tourist things, but you will get to really explore and discover unique places!
- Don’t buy souvenirs. This one was tough for me, because I have a horrible habit of wanting to buy things everywhere I go. On this trip, I told myself that my memories were the true souvenirs, and that I didn’t need things to remind me of my trip! The only things I bought on the trip was two used books and a few postcards. By avoiding pricey souvenirs, I saved quite a bit of money on the trip!
- Pack some food items. There isn’t a need to spend a ton of money eating out for breakfast and buying gas stations snacks. Bring some cheap breakfast and snack items to save even more money. Bring reusable water bottles too so you aren’t constantly paying for water. Before our trip I baked a loaf of banana bread and we brought granola bars, and we ate those throughout the trip to save money!
Travel isn’t always cheap, but you can drastically cut the cost of your road trip using these tips! We are both fairly poor twenty-something girls, and we were able to pull it off without too much financial strain. What tips do you have for cheap travel? Let me know in the comments below!