Money Saving Tricks When Driving the Family Cross Country


The best way to save money on a cross-country road trip with the family is not to take one. Get a flight and make the trip faster. We kid; if you love to road trip it with the family, go for it. Though no amount of money in the world would make sitting in the car for days at a time with or without kids worth it for some (me) there are others who love this concept and want to make this their summer vacation this year. If you are a road-trip fanatic (hi, dad) then you should start planning for your budget now. It can be expensive to spend days a time in the car, spending money on gas and groceries and stops and everything in between. Let us help you figure out how you can stretch your budget to make this kind of long distance road trip a bit less expensive, a bit more enjoyable and a lot less stressful for all involved. We have some great tips that will help you enjoy your cross-country trip.

 Get That Car Looked at Ahead of Time

One of the fastest ways to spend money on a car trip is to ignore the concept of getting your car checked out before you leave. Maybe you’re like me and you always assume that you drive a new car so you don’t need it checked out. New cars break, too, and the last thing you want to do is find that out far from home without other transportation. You’ll end up spending money on repairs, hotels or even rental cars if this happens. It can be a very expensive trip if you end up like this. Our advice is to have an oil change, your tires checked out and rotated, or replaced if necessary, and to have a mechanic check all the other basics to make sure nothing is in need of a little attention before you take off on your road trip. And if there are small chips or cracks on your windshield, it is advised to seek rv windshield replacement services before your road trip.

Plan out Your Gas Stops

Did you know you can plan out your gas stops ahead of time by checking out the cheapest gas on your route? There are apps for that you know; and we like this one. You can plan your stops so that you always find the cheapest gas possible. Even if you’re only saving a few cents a gallon, it really does add up as many times as you will need to fill up when driving across the country in a car that eats gas when prices are high – even if they’re actually reasonable at the moment. Additionally, nothing is as frustrating as realizing a mile after filling up that if you’d just waited you could have saved $.30 a gallon. That’s enough to ruin the entire trip.

Use a Gas Card with Cash Back Incentives

If you have a gas credit card that has cash back incentives, use it. You’re filling up a lot on a trip like this, so you might as well take advantage of that and earn money while spending it. You need gas, so you might as well get paid to stop and get it. If you don’t have a gas credit card, see if your regular credit card offers cash back or rewards points for gas purchases. If not, find one that does so you can get the biggest bang for your road trip buck.

Pack Lunches

Fast food is not only terrible for your overall health and how you feel, it’s also expensive. If you want to save some money now (and on your future healthcare needs) go ahead and pack a cooler with water and healthy snacks and meals that you can eat on the go. It’s a lot cheaper and a lot healthier. You’ll also find that you feel better when you’re eating well on the road. I know nothing makes me feel as bad as eating fast food; as good as it is.

Skip Toll Roads

It’s a simple road trip tip that so many people ignore when they’re on the road. So a certain road might be faster or quicker or more comfortable or whatever; if you have to pay to use it, skip it. You’re on a road trip; take the scenic – free – route and save a few dollars. Sometimes you might find detours that prevent you from doing this, but you might as well try to save money where you can. On that note, do have some cash and change on you so that in case you find yourself on a toll road by choice or not, you have the funds to pay for it. A ticket is a lot more expensive than a toll road, you know.

Camp Your Nights Away

Instead of stopping at hotels when you’re on a road trip, go camping. You can find reputable campgrounds online so that you can plan your stops around those. This will add a bit of adventure and fun to your trip. It will also give your family a chance to get out of the car and stretch a bit. I can’t tell you just how important that is when it comes to taking a road trip; especially if your road trip involves children and the need to run some energy out of them.

Bid on Cheap Hotel Rooms

Okay, so you want to save money buy you do not want to sleep in a tent on the ground. And I don’t blame you one single bit. I watch CSI; I know what happens to people who camp on road trips and break down on the side of the road. If you want to save money and book a room that’s a certain star level (Because stopping at an interstate hotel is scary), try Hotwire or Priceline. You can choose locations, star levels, guest rating levels and other aspects of a nice place to stay and bid on a room. You enter the price you want to pay; you get accepted or denied this price. You are happy or you try again until you get what you want; it all works out in the long run. You save big bucks and stay somewhere nice.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images


Leave a Reply