Do you want to know how to plan a road trip on a low budget? then read this article till end. As here I am going to tell you about the best way to plan a road trip on a budget. Admit it, most of us have watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and planned a fictional road trip in our heads that we would take(soon, very soon, really) with our friends.
We would let all our worries fly away and be one with the road and all that jazz. But the dreams died as dreams never to be fulfilled because we don’t have the time, or most importantly the money, for it. But road trips are not, or does not have to be, expensive affairs. There are always two ways to do it. The lavish way or the cheap way.
This article is for those who are looking for the cheap away. Those with enough money to spring for the Penthouse suite each time, move right on.
How to plan a road trip on a low budget?
The best way to plan a road trip on a low budget is mentioned below:
1. Plan, Plan, Plan
Yea, yes, spontaneity is the heart of a road trip, this is driving a knife through it’s heart. Don’t kill the Thelma and Louise spirit right? Well Thelma and Louise had stolen money and unless you’re willing to rob a bank on your way, winging it on the road with no pre planning is not advisable. Go where the open road calls you? The open road is a money pit. Plan your route well ahead of time. Plan the time you’ll take for each leg. You have to plan multiple stops and where you’re going to spend your nights. It’s not like the plan is set in stone and you shall never ever deviate from it, but you need a plan to begin with pretty it will all go out of control.
2. Set Budget
Set your budget before hand. Decide how much you’re willing to spend for food, fuel, lodging etc., and how much slack you can afford to give. Set aside an amount for emergencies. Always keep an eye on your spending all through the trip. You don’t want to be broken down in a strange village somewhere with no money for food or fuel. Keep enough more money as hard cash. And don’t ever, ever take a credit card with you. That is a sure fire way to lose track of your spending. By the time you’re back home you’ll be knee deep in debt.
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3. Gas Mileage is important factor
Choose a vehicle with adequate gas mileage. Fuel is one of the greatest expenses during a road trip and a vehicle with poor gas mileage is like putting money into a pocket with a hole. If you don’t think your vehicle is suitable, it is always better to rent a vehicle with better mileage than to waste money on extra fuel. Planning your route properly can also go a long way in saving fuel. As adventurous as getting lost is, it doesn’t do good things for your budget.
Eating out is one of the biggest expenses of a road trip. You might think that a light snack or a soda on the way won’t cost you much, but it’s cumulative effect can be a lot more than you expect. Packing your own food is a great way to save money. Stock up on snacks and ready to eat meals. If you can manage to bring a portable stove, then that makes cooking your own food simpler. Also carry a large refillable water container with you. It would save you the expense of buying a bottle of water or a soft drink whenever you’re thirsty, with the added benefit of being Eco friendly. But keep in mind that experiencing local cuisine is a large part of any road trip. Splurge where you must, save where you can.
5. Pack Smartly
Packing light is an essential skill that so few have mastered. You think you don’t need much, but by the time the car is loaded there is enough luggage in the car as a musician on tour. With an increase in the weight of luggage fuel consumption also increases leasing to a spike in your overall budget. So take as little as you need.
Pack clothes that can be used for different occasions. Consider stopping somewhere along the way to do laundry. But pack too light and you might need to waste money to shop for essentials along the way. Don’t forget to pack toiletries and other everyday items.
What better way to spice up your mundane road trip than to spend a night or two camping. The best part, you save a fortune in hotels. Bring your camping gear along and you can choose to spend a night in the wild if you so wished. Or you can always camp in your car, if it is spacious enough and you’re a good sleeper. Even if you don’t have camping plans, it might be a good idea to bring along light camping gear just in case the mood hits you.
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7. Keep it local
Cross country or cross state. The thing is, there’s always probably a million places near you that you’ve never seen or even heard about. You don’t always need to go far in order to have a good time. Fun may not be directly proportional to distance but expense almost always is. So if you’re looking to minimize budget, look closer to home.
8. Avoid peak season
The peak holiday seasons are when most of us feel the urge to go road tripping. But there is a hike in prices of everything during season time. If you’re planning to stay at hotels, during season time, it maybe necessary to book a while ago in advance, making it a huge loss if there is a change in your plans. Also room rents are way higher, all shops at tourist destinations sell over priced items and ticket prices will be much higher too. It might not be as exciting during the off season, but it would definitely be cheaper. Also there is a bonus that there would be less crowds during off seasons.
This is not a blanket rule that covers all by the way. If you want to go skiing and you turn up during the off season, there might not be any snow. All tips mentioned here should be modified and used according to need and common sense.
Instead of staying at any hotel you come across the road, pre plan your stops. Random hotels might hike their prices if you just show up, sensing your desperation. Check hotel booking sites for a hotel, sites like thomas cook that is well suited to your needs and price ranges. Or better yet use Air bnb or OYO rooms. Don’t fuss too much about the quality of accommodations especially if it’s just for one night. As mentioned before, camping is always an option.
If there are any friends or relatives in town, the best thing to do is ask if you can crash with them. You might also get valuable inputs from your friends about the best places to see and such around the place. If you are a super friendly person with connections everywhere, you just might be able to finish the trip spending very little on food and accommodation. Always remember to be a good house guest though. Only stay where you are sure to be welcome.
10. Free Attractions
There are some places worth paying huge ticket prices for. But there are plenty other places worth seeing that’s completely free. Never miss out on any of the free attractions. Always keep an eye out for them. A beach worth stopping at, a fair, a free impromptu concert somewhere, you see something that’s worth the deviation from the plan, then make sure to take it. Because the first and foremost purpose of a road trip to enjoy yourself as much as possible.
It is not necessary to dry out your bank account to have a fun filled, successful road trip. It is possible to maximize enjoyment while minimizing expense. So what are you waiting for? Pick your destinations, plan your routes and pack your bags. Now I guess yo know how to plan a road trip on a low budget after reading this article about road trip.