8 More Tips for Saving Money on the Road

Volkswagen Van

We recently wrote about our 10 Money Saving Road Trip Tips. We received a good bit of feedback and also realized we had more to share on this topic.

  1. Know the fine print.

    Sometimes you just need a shower and a real bed. If you end up staying at a hotel, just make sure you know whether or not there’s a free continental breakfast included as well as parking and wi-fi. Sometimes a hotel rate can look really great until you get handed the bill and you realize there were all these additional charges. Talk about a buzz kill. This has happened to us more times than we like to admit. Now we ask up front and make better decisions.

  2. Order Smart!

    When we’re not cooking meals on our Coleman camp stove, we sometimes eat at Subway.  We always get a 12-inch turkey sub and split it rather than get two 6-inch subs. You end up paying less for one 12 inch sub than two 6 inch subs! Every single person we’ve ever asked has happily made our halves with different toppings. Thankfully, too, because I don’t like olives and Caroline loves ’em.

  3. Use any and all discounts.

    AAA members often get 10% off hotel/motel stays. Just remember when you’re booking because often once the reservation is made it can’t be changed.

  4. Purchase a National Park Pass.

    Also known as America the Beautiful Passes / The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series this is a must have, especially if you’re going to be spending time in these areas. It gets you into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites and covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well day use fees at all national forests and grasslands. It also works on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. FYI: It doesn’t cover camping/campsite fees.

    The road that goes through Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
    Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado!
  5. Enjoy the free things in the places you visit!

    Sounds like a no-brainer, but if you get creative and are willing to do a little research, there’s almost always something you can do in every single place you visit that doesn’t require spending any money. Look for museums with free admission days and parks without fees. Go for a walk, seek out cool street art. Find a good sunset spot … many larger cities and even some of the smaller ones have a section on their website about free things to do.

    Street art mural of the Santa Elena Canyon in Austin, Texas
    Santa Elena Canyon mural on the Kammock building at 1401 E. Seventh St in Austin, Texas
  6. Make a memory instead of buying one.

    One of our favorite things to do in a new city is walk around looking for fun things to take pictures of. Doesn’t cost us a thing since we’re shooting with digital cameras but it sure makes for a great reminder of our trip.

    looking through a camera at photos
    Take photos instead of buying souvenirs.
  7. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

    This is in the forefront of our mind with almost every decision we make. We try hard to make purchasing decisions of things we only really need, reuse whatever we can (this includes our clothes haha – laundry happens about once a week) and of course recycle. We have a couple of re-usable bags that we brought with us from Asheville and they’ve come in handy more than once. Many places are starting to charge for bags, so do yourself and the environment a favor and bring your own.

  8. Time your travel

    If you have flexibility around when you travel, consider traveling in the off-season, which of course is different for different places. Typically, if a place is a warm weather winter destination (like Florida or Phoenix), it’s going to cost more to visit then. But if you visit in the heat of summer, chances are you’ll score a better deal.

    What do you think about our money saving road trip tips?

    Do you have others we should know about? We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions, so please leave them below!

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

5 thoughts on “8 More Tips for Saving Money on the Road

      1. We buy a lot of equipment from REI which we get a 10 percent dividend back on at the end of a year. Gas coupons are also fantastic, but I haven’t found one recently that I like.

      2. Oh my gosh, YES to REI. Their dividends program is awesome. And of course gets us to buy more gear…gas coupons…I’m with you on that. I’ll let ya know if I find one.

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