Five tips to save money on a road trip - MoneySense

Five tips to save money on a road trip

Try to offset the high price of gas this summer with this advice

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Originally from our partner Chatelaine

My husband and I are trying to plan our summer vacation. We’d like to get out of Ontario and see a bit more of Canada – and to be honest, a lot of destinations close to Toronto are way out of our budget. Right now we’re looking at Nova Scotia – we’ve never been to the province and we’ve always wanted to go.

The problem is we don’t have much of a travel budget – between airfares for the family and a car rental at our destination, the costs are adding up to more than we can afford. Which is why we’re considering driving – no easy task given that our kids are three and a half and one and a half (they can make any driving trip a very long and winding road).

We haven’t finalized our summer plans but we have talked about ways we could make a road trip even cheaper for our family – especially given how much gas costs these days. Below are a few tips we’ve come up with to help us save on a road trip this summer – and given that we’re still in the planning stages, I’m open to any and all cheap car travel tips if you have them.

In the meantime, here are mine:

Tote your food: Yes, a drive-through can be a great road-trip staple, but buying food on the road gets expensive. Packing snacks and meals in a cooler gives you have access to healthy and cheap food at all times. You don’t have to survive on peanut butter and jelly though – brush up on your picnic recipes and make it interesting. Chatelaine has some good oneshere.

Use a good quality cooler: When you’re on a longer road trip, I find that Styrofoam coolers don’t hold up all that well – and nothing’s worse than a leaky cooler in your car. Splurge and get  yourself a higher quality cooler – it’s worth it and you can reuse it for years to come.

Make the most of the journey: Since our kids are too young for long driving days, we are also planning to stay in interesting places along the way. That means doing research up front to find the cheapest possible accommodation ahead of time – that way we can budget for the cost and avoid scrambling for a place to stay while on the road. You can also combine camping with cheap hotels or motels – that can help keep costs down (although camping can get expensive too if you don’t plan carefully).

Eat light: If you do end up stopping at roadside cafes for food, stick to buying snacks rather than meals that cost more. Stick to bagels, donuts or coffee – items that can give you a cheap boost in case you start getting sick of the food you packed yourself.

Drive on cruise control: I’ve heard that driving at a slower, steady speed uses less gas. If you stick to the middle lane and avoid gunning the engine, you can cut down on your fuel costs. I haven’t tried this myself but if it will save money I’m willing to go slow and steady.

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