Road Trip Tips

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Dear blogosphere,

Today, I’ve been hopelessly distracted by trying to think of a way to blog about Mad Men (it’s the latest obsession for the boyfriend and I). Failing my mission, I have decided to share some tips for a budget road trip.

I love road tripping! You’re free to go where you please when you please and you get to see the great outdoors. But even though a roadtrip seems to be inherently cheap, the dollars can add up if you’re not careful. Here’s how to keep costs low…

  • Maximise your mileage: Get ready to pump up your tires, switch off the air con, and flick on cruise control. Try to get the most for your petrol whenever possible, and when it comes to buying it, look for a great deal. It’s usually cheaper to fill up in the city. Combine that with a cheap fuel voucher or hit the web to find the cheapest fuel in your area. MotorMouth in Australia and GasBuddy in the USA can give you the low down.

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  • Sleep for cheap: When you’re on the road, mix it up by alternating between camping and cheap motels. You’ll be guaranteed to have a hot shower every couple of nights and save some cash while you’re at it. As always, it pays to plan ahead to make sure you don’t get stuck with expensive options. Check out this post on how to find cheap accommodation.
  • Economise your eats: Many avid roadtrippers will shout the praises of packing an eski with ice, eats, and drinks for your journey. Even if you don’t eat every meal out of your eski, you’ll save some money on snacks and drinks. When it comes to eating meals that you didn’t prepack, keep it simple. Head to local markets for fresh produce and a taste of the area.
  • Join the club: Oftentimes, it’s worth buying a membership to take advantage of discounts. Hotel chains (like Best Western), roadside assistance (like RAC or AAA), or even supermarket and petrol station chains, can result in substantial discounts on a variety of goods and services.

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  • Hire car heaven: When hiring a car, it pays to shop around and book in advance. You can save hundreds of dollars by doing your homework. Book the smallest car that will meet your needs, it will be much cheaper, and hire car companies often give free upgrades. If you’re thinking of dropping the car off at a different location, that will factor into the cost, so consider whether it’s worth it.
  • Don’t forget: Visitors centres will usually be able to fill you in on the cheapest places to eat and sleep, if not give you discounts. Make a mix CD or take your iPod and car adaptor so you don’t get stuck with static on your radio. Lastly, don’t get lost! Driving around and around wastes petrol.

Lovely photos courtesy of Vanity Fair.

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