13 Frugal Tips for Road Trips

Road trips are a great way to have a little time away from home without breaking the bank. With a little bit of planning and research, you can make your road trips even more frugal by learning some tricks to save $$$ on gas, food, entertainment, and accommodations.

13 tips to keep your frugal lifestyle while traveling.

I went to college pretty far from home from home and made the trip back and forth many times. Sometimes I flew and others I drove. Long weekends and time between semesters were perfect for taking road trips and exploring other parts of the world. Now that I’m older and have a steady job I still try to take a few long weekend trips to experience new paces.

I saw a comment on my last blog post Back to Frugal. Aireona from Nightborn Travel mentioned how she would love to live a more frugal life so she can use the money to travel… Well my dear, you can do both! Here are 13 Frugal Tips for Road Trips.


Although gas prices are dropping, they are still steep when living the frugal life. Some people might try to shy away because of this, but when compared to other means of travel, this can actually be the more frugal friendly route.
Side Note Here-When traveling alone be sure to check into all possibilities, it will cost more per person for other ways of transportation but for one person it might be the better deal, if you do your research.
Some people might shy away from taking road trips because of the price of gas, but when compared with other means of travel, it’s usually the most frugal way to go! Driving might not be cheaper if you’re going alone, but the more people you put in your car, the more economical your trip will be. With our family of six, flying anywhere would easily cost us over a thousand dollars (probably closer to two), but driving would cost a fraction of that.Here are some tips to save on gas:

Make sure your car is running properly. I always check the miles, oil and tired before a road trip. Did you know that inflated tires make less friction? Less friction means better gas mileage!! Not only does checking your car keep you safe, but it keeps your car lasting longer and means you will get to your destination with no extra surprises along the way.

Avoid rush hour traffic. Try to plan your trip using back roads through large cities. Sitting or crawling in bad traffic is a huge waste of gas (not to mention time and patience). You’ll save money and have a much more pleasant trip if you avoid heavy traffic times in big cities. By going back roads you also get to enjoy the scenery. In my opinion that’s the best part of a road trip! My favorite time to travel is early fall when all the leaves are changing.

Use the Gasbuddy app or GasBuddy.com to plan out where to get your gas while traveling. Use the app or website before you go on your trip to get an idea of the best places to get gas since gas greatly varies from town to town. While on your trip you can check out the app to find the location of the cheapest gas around. Very helpful in my opinion.

Use cruise control. Now this is one I absolutely hate to do, I just do not like not having control over the car! For years I would spend hours with a cramp in my leg! As I have gotten older I have grown more comfortable with cruise control and I have learned that driving at a constant speed is more fuel efficient. Cruise control will also keep the lead-footed from getting a ticket, saving even more money!! (Don’t give me what look, Come-on we have ALL been there)!


Another big expense on a road trip is food. This one is sooo hard for me, I love trying new places and experiencing new food. The truth is, eating out while traveling can really put a dent in your spending. Planning a-head and budgeting your food on the trip can really help cut down expenses. One of the best ways to save on food while traveling is to bring your own. Not only will you save money but you also save time waiting in long lines leaving more time to explore where you are headed. Here are some tips for saving on food while traveling:

Prepare the first few meals for your trip at home. I usually make something easy that doesn’t need to be cold. I usually pack a good old PB&J sandwich with some crackers and a water (I actually do not like cold water so this is perfect while traveling).

Leftovers are also a great road trip option if you’re going to be gone for a while, it will help prevent wasting food, too! Pack a cooler with some ice and put in a few leftovers to heat up once you get there. I recommend finding accommodations with a suite or kitchenette (more on that later)!

Bring the fixings with you, I always bring along some ingredients for the trip home. Like my PB&J sandwich for the drive, I will make another one before leaving to go back home to save from stopping for food along the way. I really enjoy stopping at arrest stop and eating at a picnic table if possible.

Bring a variety of snacks. It is important to remember to bring a variety of snacks along for the long trip. If you only bring chocolate to munch on, you may be tempted to buy something savory at a rest stop. This curbs spending money on things that you can buy for a fraction of the price at home. Most rest stops have high prices for those impulse buys while traveling.
I buy snack sized baggies and make a grab-and-go type snack pack. Pretzels, crackers, cookies, and even cereal are great munchies to have on hand. Dividing them up into portions ahead of time saves mess and hassle in the car, and it’s cheaper than buying individually packaged items.

Bring frozen water bottles. For those of you who like cold water, unlike me… Having frozen water bottles serves two purposes, you have cold water to drink and it also keeps your other food items cold. No need for ice in the cooler with frozen water bottles. Personally, I bought a Brita filtered water bottle which I absolutely love for traveling. No need to wake up in the night to go find a water bottle in the cooler. I just fill it up from the tap at a rest stop or in the hotel.

Find interesting sites, historical markers, along the way. Do a little research ahead of time to see if you’ll be passing by some free entertainment on your route. This to me is the whole point of having a road trip! It’s to stop and see the little places along the way, often these are free attractions. Search the local newspapers for events or activities while traveling. This can provide free entertainment and a short break from being buckled up.


When I was young I remember my dad powering through a trip or trading of with my mother half way through on the really long trips.Here are some ways to save on accommodations for your road trip:

Bring along a tent and camp. I am not one of those outdoorsy people, usually one night of camping is enough for me. But usually one night on a road trip I like to pull out the old tent set it up and enjoy a night by the fire. Always stop where we can camp for free. You can pitch a tent in most national forests. In the high-use areas with designated campsites, you’ll have to pay, though it’s probably a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel.

Stay with family or friends. This is the part I love about having a huge family! There is always someone to go visit. When I plan a trip, I try to plan it around stopping by to visit someone I know. This cuts down on expenses, even if I must crash on a couch or an air mattress in the Living-room!

Find a hotel with a suite. As mentioned earlier this causes you to save money on food while traveling. Getting a room with a kitchenette allows you to heat up those leftovers. Even if you do purchase food out I never eat all of it and this allows me to bring it home and eat some later. I ALWAYS leave one night for splurging and trying a top-rated restaurant in the area (top meaning food not price). Sometimes I try to find something particularly known in the area that is recommended by the people who live there. Having a microwave lets me splurge while being frugal.
Are you excited to plan your next road trip? I know I am, this post has certainly got me thinking about where to go. Your road trip can be as frugal as you make it to be. You can set a budget, and stick to it while on vacation and still have lots of good fun!

So Tell Me…
How do you save money on road trips?
Do you have any exciting road trips planned?


  1. Lily

    Ooh love this!

  2. ivana

    I have never been to a road trip, so this may be helpful for me in the future, especially when it comes to accommodation xo


    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      Yes Ivana it can easily save lots of $$$ to research accommodations before traveling and not just picking a hotel.

  3. Suanlian Tangpua

    Great tips! ‘Gasbuddy app’ I really need this app. Thank you for the share…

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      Yes!! I love it! go get it NOW. haha

  4. Christa Stull

    These are great money saving tips! We do a lot of summer travel, so these will be very helpful!

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you Christa!

  5. Annissa

    Great tips! I love the idea of taking frozen water bottles! No wasted space in the cooler taken up by ice packs.

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      Thanks Annissa, yes the frozen water is one my family has used for years!

  6. Victoria

    Love this!
    My Hubby and I have been thinking about planning a cross-Canada road trip.
    This will definitely come in handy, Thanks!

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      Ohh Victoria that sounds like so much fun! You will have to stop back here and let me know how it goes 🙂

  7. Mayuri

    These are some awesome tips for road trips. I generally avoid traffic hours by starting early in the morning. I am going to try this “Gasbuddy” app and see if it works here too!

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      Yes! and please stop back and let me know your experience with it. I love it!

  8. Gennifer Rose

    Great tips! Road tripping is one of my all-time favorite things to do. I love jumping in the car, playing some tunes and exploring!

    Gennifer Rose | http://www.GenniferRose.com

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      yes it is a great feeling to get on he road and go!

  9. Chelsey

    Love this post! I use many of these methods when I can find the time to head out of time, but a few like gasbuddy didn’t even know about. Thanks for the headsup!!!

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      you are welcome Chelsey! glad I could give you a few new tips!

  10. Bryce Rae

    I think the money on food would be something many people would need to think about. I know I always do.
    Well done, alot of info 🙂

  11. Michie

    Eat from grocery stores. Cereal for breakfast, even buying single serve milk is cheaper than restaurants, motels and campgrounds sometimes have microwaves in a common area. If you’re adventurous, food can even be heated up on the engine block wrapped in foil. When you do eat out, spend a little more on eating at the local places and consider it entertainment too. Carry some laundry detergent for laundromats or hand washing. Clothes dry really fast in car windows. Know a little about your vehicle and carry belts and fluids with you (way cheaper than a tow). Keep pillows (for napping, lap table, etc) and big towels (for a blanket, mop messes, wring out wet clothing, etc) accessible, if nothing else, you can take cat naps while someone else drives, at rest stops, and at the side of the road.

    1. kelley.aroura@gmail.com Post author

      thank you Michie, these are great tips!

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