Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to plan a cheap road trip

You want to take a vacation but you aren't sure where to go. The big consideration is that it has to be cheap. In fact, the cheaper the travel is the more you will enjoy it. No worries. A cheap road trip is in your future. These tips can help you get there.

PT Cruiser Shenandoah Valley
Pick a destination that's reasonable. Consider the cost of gas and the mpg of your vehicle. How far can you afford to go? Draw a circle around your city with that in mind. Anything within the circle should be within reach.

Stay within your budget
These days gas can be your biggest budget item. Your hotel bill may be next and then there's food. Sightseeing costs are usually last on the list.

It's about the journey
A cheap road trip is perfect for those who enjoy the journey. Choose a back road instead of the interstate and take a leisurely pace. Enjoy the sites along the way. Packing your own food adds fun and reduces the cost of any getaway.

Look for inexpensive or free points of interest on your getaway. Some of the likely places to look for free or cheap attractions include

  • Visitor centers
  • Unique shops
  • Historic markers
  • Self-guided driving tours of historic towns or villages
  • Unique tourist trap spots
  • Self-guided walking tours
  • Quiet nature trails
  • Greenways
  • Sculptures, murals or outdoor art projects
  • Majestic mountain scenery
  • National parks
  • State parks
Other tips

A picnic lunch is a good addition to a cheap road trip. Toss some sandwiches, a blanket and drinks in the car and you will be less likely to hit a drive through or restaurant. Snacks munchies eaten on a park picnic table turns even the cheapest road trip into a special occasion.

An often overlooked part of budget travel is car maintenance. You will get better mileage if your vehicle is in good condition. Check the oil and tire pressure before starting your vacation. Highway mileage can be affected even if your tires are only a little low.

Lastly, take a quick double check to make sure you have everything before hitting the roadway. Picking up bottled water or souvenirs can kill a cheap road trip. The individual items may not be expensive, but what really adds up are the impulse purchases. Even convenience stores places tempting items at the checkout register. That bag of chips can pretty quickly turn into a car charger, extra bottle of water and candy bar or more chips. A quick double check before leaving home can avoid these extra purchases.

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