14 Ways to Save on Your Next Road Trip!

posted on July 24, 2013 by  |  posted under Coupons & Budgeting, Family Time  |  9 Comments

We are so excited to welcome a fabulous guest to HowDoesShe, who is going to help us all save some real money on our next road trip! I know I can sure use some help in this area! Please give a warm welcome to Paula! Paula is a young wife, mama and writer. Her passions include blogging, the hot Houston weather, watching her kids giggle, budgeting and encouraging people. You can find more of Paula’s writing on her blog Beauty Through Imperfection where she writes candidly about her life as a young wife/mama and strives to encourages others in their daily lives.

Take it away, Paula!

001 Save money on your next road trip


It’s that time of year again, time for a Summer Road Trip! Driving can be a thrifty alternative to flying, but road trips can still end up being quite pricey. That’s why we compiled this list of ways to save on every aspect of your next road trip!

002 Roadtrip Snacks


  • Only purchase one type of snack at each stop. Instead of buying multiple treats for every one in the car every time, limit each person to one snack category per stop. For example, Buy special drinks the first time, candy the next and chips or crackers later on.
  • Bring waters and snacks from home to supplement between snack purchases on the road.

003 Roadtrip meals


  • Try eating at local diners for meals instead of chain restaurants. Oftentimes local Mom & Pop eating establishments are much cheaper than the big-name restaurants.
  • Pack picnic meals for each day you’ll be on the road. PB&J sandwiches or cans of tuna fish are great options for lunches and dinners on the road. Cereal bars, fruit,  banana bread, and muffins are all great breakfast options.
  • Stop at a supermarket for meals, instead of expensive sit-down restaurants

004 Gasoline and vehichl savings

Gasoline & Vehicle

  • GasBuddy.com is a great resource for travel! You can use the online version or download the free app for your iphone, android or blackberry. Just enter a zip code on the site or app and it will tell you the location of the cheapest gas in the area. This can help save a lot of money on gas. Right now the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive gas in my area is 10 cents per gallon. 10 cents a gallon will really add up over a long car trip.
  • Use a gas rewards card when you can. Many gas stations offer credit cards that offer a few cents off each gallon purchased at their stations nationwide. Applying for a gas reward card before your trip could mean saving a good bit of money on gas when driving across the country.
  • Plan and double check your route ahead of time to avoid any toll roads and road work that you might encounter.
  • Give your car a check-up before you leave to be sure you don’t run in to any unexpected vehicle trouble along the way. Fluid levels, tire pressure and all lights should be checked before leaving on a long trip.

005 roadtrip lodging


  • Consider camping at night after a drive, instead of getting a hotel room. You can use freecampsites.net to find the cheapest camping sites near your route.
  • If you choose to stay in hotels during your trip, make reservations ahead of time. This will ensure that you have a room and enable you to find the cheapest rates ahead of time so that you don’t have to drive around to different hotels comparing prices when you are already tired from the long drive.

006 roadtrip entertainment

Entertainment Along the Way

  • Bring along chalk, balls, or frisbees to play with during rest stops. This can help kids get some energy worked out and prepare them for another few hours in the car
  • Find pet stores to visit along the way. These can serve as a free mini-zoo to entertain kids without having to pay hefty entertainment prices.
  • Before the trip, stock up on cheap toys from the Dollar Store. Surprise the kids with new toys from the front seat every few hours during the trip.

 007 Roadtrip map

Be sure to check out this post for more fun road trip activities! 

Thanks, Paula!!

Have you found any awesome ways to save money during a road trip? Share in the comments!

    1. July 24th, 2013 at 10:55 am
      Smee says:
      5 kids, each 22 months younger than the other, before any form of tech entertainment, visualize!

      Pack jump ropes... They came in handy in the following ways:
      -We used them as a "rope line" when we were somewhere we needed the kids to all stay "on the line" (think kindergarten lines) mom at one end, dad at the other, kids in the middle.
      -We would usually stop about every hour for an "activity". Didn't matter where (sometime that was kind of fun/exciting), we'd pull over and hand out the ropes and have everyone jump for 2 minutes straight, then we'd have them run form this point to that point, then back to the rope for 1 minute, then crab walk to this point...you get the idea.
      You can also use the ropes to make a "maze" or "path" for a quick walk.
      Lots of variety in a physical activity. Sometimes this was in a field, other times it was in a parking lot at a mall...wherever was half the fun! ***This got their energy out for another hour ride.
      -When they got back in the car we passed out either orange or apple slices (chewy and thirst quenching and no clean up).
      -We taught that everyone must hum the "We're washing our hands" (birthday) song beginning as they soaped up, then again as they rinsed off -always scrubbing -when we wash our hands (especially when traveling!) We got a lot of looks, mostly approving!
      -Also taught if they got lost to look for a "Gramma" or a "Mother *with* children" for help. (remember "Safety Kids"?)
    2. July 24th, 2013 at 6:17 pm
      Jordee Lohrey says:
      Just got back from a road trip myself. I always make sure the hotel I stay in offers free breakfast. Most that do even have hot waffles, eggs, and sausage. If you book ahead they are usually the same price as those that don't offer breakfast
    3. July 24th, 2013 at 6:33 pm
      Annemarie says:
      All good ideas. We search for Groupons/Living Social for restaurants, lodging and entertainment in the places we are stopping. My sweetie and I realized how FULL we were feeling after eating complete meals so we have taken to sharing meals. It keeps us from gaining vacation weight. If you have younger ones, you can find places that have kids eat free nights or kids eat cheap like Jason's Deli (1.99) or Golden Corral (2.99 M-Th).
    4. July 24th, 2013 at 10:07 pm
      Whitney says:
      We always pack a picnic basket and ice chest full of goodies for the road. Hubby loves sandwhiches and most rest stops have picnic tables.
    5. July 24th, 2013 at 10:37 pm
      Sophie says:
      We are leaving tomorrow with an 8 year old and our 4 month old twins. Oy. I dont think Ive ever packed so much for two little people in my life! We have already decided to do many of the things listed here, so I'm glad to hear they are smart choices!!
    6. July 24th, 2013 at 11:33 pm
      Michelle D says:
      Agreeing with the hotels with free breakfast. And booking ahead is great as long as you give yourself plenty of wiggle room to be late and still sleep decent...due to car sickness, a missed exit and road construction (in one day) we were off by 3-4 hours and didn't check in until 5:30 am :P Worst night of driving ever!
    7. July 25th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
      Danielle says:
      Awesome post! Love the pictures and great content!
    8. August 4th, 2013 at 3:34 pm
      Tina says:
      We save money on long road trips by renting a full-size car that gets better gas mileage than our Durango. We give up the extra seating that isn't needed on our trip and even with the cost of a rental car, we still come out ahead because of the price of gas.

      I'd trade my Durango in for a better fuel economy car, however I frequently need the 3rd row seating, and the Durango is paid off and I do not want to get into a new car payment.
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