What better way for the frugal traveler to stretch both their budget and vacation allowance than by taking road trips on long weekends? Here are some of my top tips for reducing that cost even further.
Keep the cooler cool
Packing an accessible cooler full of drinks and snacks is a great option to keep costs down. To maximize the cooler space, instead of filling with ice cubes, freeze lightly filled water bottles and drinks (including drink cans, makes juice healthier). No more soggy sandwiches or spilled water in the backseat.
Eat where the truckers eat
For longer road trips, travelers may need to look outside the cooler for a meal. Instead of haunting the usual fast food chains, keep an eye out for local roadside restaurants with transport trucks parked outside. When truckers find a place with good, affordable meals, they tell their buddies.
Note: Just because the sign indicates a truck stop does not mean truckers are stopping. Vehicles never lie.
Keep kids entertained
This is a trick that I stole from my mother. Every time we went on a long road trip, she would take out the coloring books and pencils. It may not sound exciting except that it was … to us. On a road trip, this was the only time we got a new coloring book.
Updated for today’s kids, keep some toys or video games only for road trips. It could be a brand new toy or a favorite. The novelty of the toy will keep children busy and look forward to long car trips.
Prepare the vehicle
Road trips mean relying on your vehicle, so prep work is essential. Check all fluids, oil, antifreeze / coolant, windshield washer solvent (for bugs that all travel vehicles collect). Check the tires to make sure they are properly inflated and in good condition. Check all belts and hoses for wear.
AAA or other vehicle assistance programs
Frequent travelers should consider joining the AAA or other auto assistance program, especially if they have an older vehicle. A tow and the membership pays for itself. Plus, no jamming for local mechanics / tow trucks.
One of the perks I like about AAA is their TripTiks which are full road maps with information like road works (very useful during summer road works season) and rest areas. There are even introductory texts on each city passed.
Road trips are a great way to see more local destinations and stretch the travel budget.