Ultimate guide to planning a road trip

Who doesn’t love a good road trip!? Whether you are travelling abroad or just going on a trip in your own country, there is something for you here! This is my ultimate guide to planning a road trip so that your trip goes as smoothly as possible and help you save some money too!

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AVOIDS TOLLS

Plan your route. Even if you only decide last minute where you want to head off to next, make sure you take a minute to plan! Tolls and work traffic could significantly change how long it takes to get to your next destination. You don’t want to be driving further than you need to and you will save money on gas. Toll charges are sometimes added on to the end of your trip once you take the car back if you are on a rental, so be careful of hidden charges. This was something I realised last time were on a trip a little too late! 

USE GAS BUDDY (OR EQUIVALENT)

This will enable you to see where the nearest gas station is and how much it is in real-time. As gas buddy is attached to your bank account you receive discounts on gas. This is a super-easy way to save money and receive some of the stress of worrying about running out of gas. I know for me, I worry massively as to where the next place we will be able to fill up is. Its such relief to have this kind of app. Remember to download these types of apps while you are planning your road trip. Less time stressing more time enjoying your road trip!

Ultimate Guide To Planning A Road Trip. Mustang. snowy mountains
Driving around seeing snowy mountains

BRING A COOLER

Bring a plug-in cooler so you can keep your drinks cold and your food fresh on the road. A must for a road trip! If you are in a smaller car or have travelled abroad you can use a foiled lunch bag and zip lock bags to create the same thing. Just freeze the ziplock bags with water in or cooler packs overnight and you will be set for the day!

USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

We have found that parking could be extremely costly in a lot of cities. When possible leave the car at motel/hostel and use the subway or bus. 9 times out of 10 it will be much cheaper to buy a day pass than paying for day parking. This will also save you time, trying to find somewhere to park can be very frustrating in a lot of city and towns as they tend to have limited resources. You may end up parking a million miles away from where you planned on going and end up paying for a taxi anyway!

AVOID FAST FOOD CHAINS

They can be very costly for a small meal and starts to add up very quickly. Try to find a diner instead where you can get a substantial meal for around the same price and won’t leave you hungry! Check for coupons online while you are waiting for your meals you never know how much you might save. When planning your road trip make sure you check out what sort of food is available around your key destinations.

BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS

We stopped off at supermarkets in the evenings before heading back to the hotel. We picked up things like big bottles of drink and packets of crisps and biscuits. These would save for longer than something like chocolate and are lightweight enough to pack for on the go. This saved us no end of money. Rather than buying the same things form curbside vendors for double the cost.

BRING A METAL BOTTLE

Lots of places will let you refill your bottles for free, from some airports to theme parks. This will not only save you a lot of money but will taste better than drinking from a plastic bottle. This will ensure to keep it cold for longer too! This is also much more environmentally friendly.

FIND OUT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT

Not only will you have the most authentic meals but it will also be a lot cheaper than mainstream chains which add a premium if they are in tourist hotspots. Locals will know where to get good deals and tasty food. Don’t be afraid to ask around when you are in gas stations or shops where the cheap diners are.

CHECK TO SEE IF YOU HAVE BREAKFAST INCLUDED

This will cut this expense out of your day and save you the hassle of locating somewhere to eat in the morning. Just make sure that you are not paying over the odds to have breakfast included to make it worth it.

Ultimate Guide To Planning A Road Trip. Mountains. Mustang
Driving through Nevada

USE APPS TO BOOK ACCOMMODATION

Use apps like priceline.combooking.com  or Expedia to get the best deals on motels and hotels. We used this every night, Once we knew it was about time to start heading in for the night as checked the app to see what rooms were available and close to our location. This is great because you can choose what sort of place you are looking to stay and how much you are willing to spend. We could also check out the reviews beforehand to avoid the surprise of a horrible room! This is a great way to build up points which can eventually lead to getting a free nights stay.

NATIONAL PARK PASS

If you are interested in seeing all of the amazing national parks across America you can apply for a national park pass for $80 a year which gives you entry to hundreds of parks across the country. This is definitely something to look into whichever country you are visiting if you are planning on doing a lot of hiking and exploring as it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

WHEN PLANNING LOOK IN TO CITY PASSES

If you are looking to stay in one place for a couple of days, check out buying a city pass beforehand. If you are planning of doing lots of touristy things they can be very expensive, with a city pass you will get these discounted. 

CHECK GETYOURGUIDE.COM

Driving through a town and not sure what there is to do there? Check out getyourguide.com. Tickets may not necessarily cheaper but it will give you a great insight as to what there is to do in that town and if they have availability that day. Definitely worth keeping an eye on what they have going on and you might get a bargain if they want to fill slots on certain excursions. Check out the link below for some ideas!

WHEN PLANNING YOUR ROAD TRIP THINK ABOUT YOUR BUDGET

This is so important when planning your road trip. You don’t want to get 5 days into a 14-day trip and have overspent leaving yourself short. Have a rough idea of how much you want to spend on food a day, how much you want to spend on entertainment a day and how much to save to buy souvenirs. This will ensure you don’t get into a sticky situation and leave you from being disappointed. There is nothing worse than getting home and saying I wish we could have done… 

BRING PORTABLE CHARGERS AND MOBILE PHONE CAR CHARGER

Nobody likes to run out of battery. Bringing portable chargers are great as you can pop them in your bag and charge as you go, perfect for long days outside! We love them as we can keep GoPro batteries as well as our phones charges on the go. With an in-car double USB charger, you can keep things charged as you drive. Now you don’t have to worry about charging them overnight. If you are using your phone for GPS while driving this is perfect as it can be plugged into the mains ensuring you don’t get a flat battery while trying to follow the SatNav!

ALWAYS CHECK FOR FREE THINGS TO DO

Some of the best things in life really are free! While we were on our road trip some of the free things that we did turned out to be some of the best things. Every city or town will have tons of things to do that are free. Some places even have free entry days in the month. A example of this is Paris has free entry to their museums on the first Sunday of every month.

AVOID TRAVELLING IN PEAK SEASON

This can be a tricky one as sometimes it can be hard to avoid. However when planning your road trip, check out the school holidays and crowd planners. Especially for big tourist attractions that you might be heading to on your trip before hand. This will give you can get an idea of what the crowds and queues will be like. Booking off peak season is cheaper too!

Ultimate Guide To Planning A Road Trip. Mustand. Los Angeles
Lost somewhere in LA

WHEN YOU PARK DROP A PIN ON YOUR MAPS

Now you won’t forget where you parked. Some city the streets can look very similar and can become hard to navigate especially when it started to get dark. Drop a pin on your maps to stop you forgetting where you parked! This will also show you the quickest way back from your location to the car and avoid unnecessary walking.

HAND SANITISER AND FIRST AID KIT

I never travel without hand sanitiser. When we rented our car we made sure to clean the steering wheel and door handles to avoid picking up any nasty germs. This is also a live saver if you are eating in the car. I hate eating a bag of crisps and then not being able to wash my hands. Bring a basic first aid kit. If you are travelling around you never know when you might need a plaster or some headache pills. You don’t want to be stuck on the road for several hours without having access to some. I always keep a main kit in the car and then a smaller kit in my bag as blisters are the worst when you are in the middle of a desert!

I hope that some of these tips have been helpful and will ensure you have the smoothest road trip possible! If there are any tips you guys think I have missed, let me know in the comments below! Safe travels.

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Written by

Iemexploring

Hi there my name is Emma and I love to travel. I hope that some of my stories will help inspire you with your own journeys and our tips and guides will give you ideas of fun things to do when you are traveling around!