America is a vast country where there are fun, fascinating things to see and do around almost every corner. Traveling by plane, bus, or passenger train doesn't give you the opportunity to stop and see the weird, wild, and wonderful close up. For that, you need to take a road trip.
A road trip also makes economic sense. Because everyone rides in the same vehicle, it can be relatively inexpensive for a travel party of more than one person because you do not have to pay a fee per seat. However, it can also be easy to overspend during a road trip, negating the budgetary advantage you give yourself by choosing to drive. Here are some tips for having a memorable road trip without breaking the bank.
1. Do Make Plans Beforehand
While part of the fun of a road trip is that it allows you to be spontaneous, you should make plans in advance, at least in the form of a loose outline. Plan your spending beforehand and think about finding cheap car insurance to keep costs down. Take the car in for a tune-up to ensure that it is up to the journey. With the help of your phone, you can shop around for deals on hotel rooms and gasoline both before and during the trip.
2. Don't Eat Out for Every Meal
This can exhaust your budget quickly. It is fine to eat out once in a while, especially when the restaurant itself provides a unique experience. However, you should also pack some non-perishable snacks and bring a cooler in which to pack picnic-type fare, e.g., bread and lunch meat for sandwiches. You do not have to pack everything you plan to eat beforehand. In fact, this may not even be possible if you are planning a long trip. Rather, you can replenish your food supply by stopping periodically at grocery stores along the way.
3. Do Plan To Travel During the Off Season
Summer is the peak vacation season in the Northern Hemisphere, meaning that prices are generally higher, roadways often have more traffic, and attractions typically have large crowds. You may be able to avoid all that by traveling during the off-peak seasons of spring and autumn. The weather is likely to be almost as good, perhaps even better if you prefer cooler temperatures. Not only that, but there may be things you can do in certain locations that you can only do during a particular season. Examples include seeing blossoming trees or fall foliage.
4. Don't Focus on Big Cities
Maybe you can work a day trip to a large city into your itinerary, particularly if there is something specific you want to see. However, if you're trying to travel on a budget, you want to avoid these areas. They can be crowded, and the prices tend to be higher for food and accommodations. There is often a lot more fun to be had when you travel off the beaten path.
5. Do Look for Inexpensive Things To Do
Most areas have points of interest such as small museums and historical sites. Admission to such places is often free or minimal. Some ask only a freewill donation. You can also find some spectacular local, state, or national parks offering incredible sights and opportunities for outdoor activities, usually for a very reasonable entrance fee.
6. Don't Go To Tourist Traps
In areas that derive a lot of revenue from tourism, you will sometimes run across shady attractions that charge exorbitant fees but offer little in return. Fortunately, you can usually find reviews online that indicate whether or not a particular attraction is worth your time and, more importantly, cash.
If you run across an attraction that caters to a particular interest of yours, it might be worth a splurge to go in and see it. However, do not spend money on quaint attractions just for the novelty of it.
Sometimes you travel expressly to get from one point to another. A road trip is appropriate when the journey is at least as important as the eventual destination.