by Melissa Tosetti
The Frugal Road Trip
Have Car, Will Travel
On the Road Again
Remember being trapped in the back seat of the car, wedged between your older brother and the ice chest as your parents cruised down the highway at 55 miles per hour, windows rolled down?
Road trips can be an absolute blast or a total nightmare. The reason the movie "Vacation" was so funny is because it contained a thread of realism. A great road trip is 50% preparation and 50% attitude. We have a few tips to make your next road trip as easy and fun as possible.
- Service your car a few weeks before your trip, not the day before. By servicing it in advance, your trip won't be spoiled if you need repairs that will take more than a day. Don't forget to ask your mechanic to check your spare tire.
- Once your car is back from the shop, take a few minutes to clear the clutter. It will make for a more relaxing trip if you don't have to shift your gym bag every time you need something.
- If you don't have jumper cables, pick some up. They are as little as $20, which is much cheaper than having a tow truck jump your car. Also, keep a gallon of water in your trunk. If your car overheats, you can give it enough water to get you to a gas station.
- Give one of your passengers a second set of keys. You never know when you're going to lock your keys in the trunk.
- A first aid kit and flashlight are good things to keep in your car at all times.
- If you aren't booking hotels in advance, at least take a list of hotels that are in your destination area.
- Online maps are usually ok, but occasionally, they can steer you astray. A map book like the "Thomas Guide" is an excellent investment.
Enjoy the Ride
- There is a purpose to sunglasses besides looking good. They will keep you from squinting and the eventual headache that squinting can cause.
- A small ice chest with water and beverages can be a lifesaver when you aren't sure where the next rest stop will be. Purchasing snacks at the grocery store before you ever hit the road is a smart idea. The markup on snacks at the convenience store or service station is outrageous!
On the Road
- Well-lit, busy gas stations can provide a safe place for a quick break. Avoid rest stops that are unpopulated and out of the way.
- Limit your driving to five or six hours a day and take frequent breaks. Driver fatigue is a top cause of accidents.
- If you want to be really prepared, take along a roll of toilet paper for those sketchy gas station bathroom breaks.
- If you are meeting up with someone, don't say you will arrive at 10:00 am. Say you will arrive between 10:00 and 11:00 am. When traffic is heavier than expected, you will appreciate the hour of leeway.
- Skip the chains and be adventurous. You can eat at McDonalds any time. Look for independently owned restaurants and cafes. The same goes for shopping along your way.
Despite all of our tips, don't plan too much and don't be a slave to the schedule. Be open to new possibilities as they arise. As in life, it's the journey, not the destination that's important.
Melissa Tosetti is the Editor/Publisher of Budget Savvy Magazine.
Take the Next Step:
- Check travel reviews at Cheapism.com before making travel arrangements.
If you enjoyed this article you might also want to check out:
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor. Just Click Here and tell us what's on your mind.
Also In This Week's Issue
- Money skills key to child's future
- 6 steps to a successful money talk with your spouse
- 5 creative ways to wrap gift cards
- Thrifty stocking stuffers
- Should your kid take a part-time job?
- 6 secrets to saving more at discount stores
- Healthy family breakfasts
In The Dollar Stretcher Community
Get free parenting tips in your inbox each week!
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter Dollar Stretcher for Parents.