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.

13 comments on “Five tips to save money on a road trip

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  5. Camp the whole way through, if no showers available at campsites, use recreation centre pool showers usually available cheap just for showering. You can make reservations at many campgrounds (at least in BC Canada), and it will save you scads of money. Been there several times on car holidays. The kids will love the adventure part of it. :)


  6. Hey, really nice stuff you got here. Please accept my thank you for the article you provided.


  7. My husband and I just travelled from NL to BC. The gas prices were at the highest in north Ontario and the cheapest in Manitoba. We travelled in a camper so we did save on food because we got our groceries where cheapest. If while travelling you do wish to have takeout for a change I highly recomend Wendys. That is the absolute cheapest and I think for takeout choices the healthiest. If you are considering summer vacation and have to consider coolers(food), accomadations, and gas maybe check out a small size RV. Our gas mileage wasn't that bad considering we had our sleeping area and food already available at all times. Good luck in you adventures, hope my info could be of some use.


  8. Sticking to the middle lane is technically illegal and should be avoided, especially if you're going to drive at a slower, steady speed. Stick to the leftmost lane as the Rules of the Road say you should.


  9. Buy food in grocery stores, not in gas stations. If you're passing through a small town, the grocery store is usually only a few blocks away and has healthier (fruit!), cheaper options than along the main highway.


  10. We eat breakfast at the hotel( either included in the price or cereal in the room), if eating a restaurant meal we usually do it at lunch as usually cheaper( unless you have huge appetities one entree and one appetizer is usually enough for 2 adults), and we have eaten many a hot grocery store meal in our hotel room at night-a rotisserie chicken with french bread, salad and fruit ( enough for a family of 4) can easily be purchased for under $15 at most grocery stores. Cheaper and healtheir than fast food in most cases. Multigrain bagels with cream cheese are a very cheap lunch or breakfast on the road at Tim Hortons.


  11. We save all year to cash in our airmiles for best western gift cards. Saves us hundreds of dollars i hotels, and they all offer a continental breakfast included in your room.


  12. Many of us travel each day for different purposes, there are those who travel for the purpose of going to work, attending to school or just traveling because you have something to buy. Traveling seems to be easy to do like just riding on a car or bus going to somewhere. However, you have to always keep in mind that there are important things to consider before traveling to other places especially if it is a long trip. I believe that the most important things to consider in traveling are wearing of comfortable clothes, carrying foods and drinks to avoid dehydration and finally, have your gadgets near you to avoid boredom. Thank you for sharing this nice and informative article, keep it up!


  13. Staying in cheap hotels is not a bad idea as well. We stayed in a cheap hotel in Victoria, London before. It was just for a night but the price was right.


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