Five simple ways to save money while you travel
When it comes to road trips, a few things are a given. First, you’ll inevitably forget something important like your toothbrush. Second, the “shortcut” someone will suggest won’t end up being very short. And third, you’ll spend way more money than you thought you would. The good news about that last one is that it can easily be avoided; you just need to create a plan before you go. Following these tips can help ensure you don’t return with a much lighter wallet.
Bring (most) of the food you need
One of the best parts of traveling is sampling the local food – the stuff you can’t get in your hometown. If there’s a restaurant you’ve heard people rave about or there are some region-specific delicacies you want to try, by all means stop and enjoy. But because eating out can be expensive, do it sparingly. When you’re driving around with a kitchen, there’s no reason not to use it. Dry goods you can stock up on well in advance, and perishables such as fruits and veggies, meat, and dairy products you can pick up along the way. You can save even more money by making your own snacks.
Don’t just get gas anywhere
When you see a few gas stations near each other, their prices are almost always identical. This is why it’s easy to think that every station has the same prices. The truth is that sometimes they vary widely, and you’ll kick yourself if, just after filling up, you find a nearby station that’s 10 cents cheaper. In a car, that may just have been a savings of a couple of bucks, but in an RV, it may be $10 or more. And if you’re buying gas every day, that amount can certainly add up. This is why you should use an app such as GasBuddy, which shows you the gas stations along your way and their current prices.
Bring cash with you
This may seem like an old-fashioned tip, but you’ll be glad you did it for a couple of reasons. First of all, some places – especially small towns – don’t accept anything but cash. Instead of searching for an ATM (and if it’s not from your bank, expect a fee that might be as much as $5), you can just take out your wallet. Second, when you pay for everything with a card, it can be easy to forget that it’s depleting an account; when you hand over cash, your brain has more of a visceral reaction. It’s for this reason, by the way, that casinos use chips instead of real money.
Go in the offseason
Depending upon when you can get away and what you want to see, this may not work, but you can save a significant amount of money on your trip by traveling in the offseason. Entertainment venues, restaurants, and any other spots that get a lot of tourists almost always raise their prices during popular seasons. An added bonus is that there aren’t as many people to deal with, and there are fewer cars on the roads. This means less time stuck in traffic wasting your precious gas. Plus, gas is usually more expensive during the summer months, so avoid them if you can.
Forget the campgrounds
Most campground fees aren’t terribly expensive, but you can skip them entirely by dry camping, also called boondocking. Sure, having all the hookups for your RV is nice, but you may not need them – at least not every day. Boondocking gives you a chance to get off the beaten path and maybe even out of your RV for a little while. If you decide to go this route, you may want to think about brushing up on your camping skills before you head out.
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