Summertime is one of the best times to hit the road for an affordable vacation. According to AAA, 40% of American adults will take some type of family driving vacation this year.
A road trip can be a fun way to see the country, and you’ll likely spend less money than you would with a vacation that requires airfare and rental cars. Regardless of whether you go across the state or across the country, here are some tips to help you save.
6 ways to take a memorable vacation without breaking the bank
Set a budget – and then stick to it. Map your route ahead of time, so you know how much to budget for gas, food, places to stay, and sightseeing. Big cities can mean big expenses. If your travel funds are tight this year, consider visiting smaller, less well-known destinations that can cost less but be every bit as enjoyable. Plus, driving across the country solely on interstate highways can get pretty boring. Consider taking backroads, and search for ‘scenic byways’ along your route.
Make sure your car is road-worthy by getting it serviced before you head out. Check tires, oil, coolant, and other things that could cause expensive, unplanned pit stops. Pack emergency supplies, such as jumper cables, flares, a first aid kit, and other items. Make certain that your spare tire is ready for use, and that you have all the tools (and the know-how) to change a tire if needed.
One of the best ways to save on your overnight accommodations is to camp. If that’s not your thing, shop online for last-minute hotel and motel deals. If you book online, consider whether you want to save $10 - $20 per night for the non-refundable option. Look into staying at the same hotel chain along the way to earn reward points that you can use on your next vacation. Avoid hotels with hidden ‘resort’ fees, and ask if there’s an extra cost before you request an early check-in. If you have a bigger group and you’ll be spending more than just a night or two at your destination, consider renting a vacation home.
Good food is part of the fun of a vacation, and luckily there are many ways to save. Look for dining deals such as early bird specials or happy hour menus, or try the local diner for a low-cost, hometown meal. Take full advantage if your hotel or motel offers free breakfast. Fill your own coffee mug and grab an apple or banana from the hotel to avoid the expensive, unhealthy gas station snacks. Bring your own water bottles and a cooler, and then buy food and ice from a grocery store. A roadside picnic can be every bit as memorable as an expensive restaurant meal, at a fraction of the cost.
The cost to get into theme parks and other attractions can be a real budget buster. Group these activities with more affordable options along the way to stretch your travel funds. For example, visit national parks or local museums; go for a hike or spend the day at the pool or the beach. Look for area festivals, county fairs, art shows, and free concerts in the park. Get ideas by stopping at the local visitor’s center. They can suggest fun and affordable things to do and usually offer discount coupons to help you save even more. If you are a member of your local museum or zoo, check to see whether they offer reciprocal entry in other cities.
Before you leave on a summertime road trip, call Global Credit Union Insurance Brokers at 800-478-1251 to make sure you’ll be fully covered along the way. If you don’t already have it, add Emergency Road Service to your auto coverage, which will cover expenses if your vehicle needs to be towed.