Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Many people take advantage of this three-day weekend to do some travelling. Even if you opt out of travelling this weekend, summer is just around the corner and the perfect time for road trips. In our Spring Break post, we discussed ways to save up for vacation that can also be applied here. The following ideas are road-trip specific, look them over before you hit the road!
- Car Considerations. Depending on the distance of the car trip, you may have to decide between renting or driving your own. This article from Simple Dollar offers a way to approach the cost-benefit analysis in making this decision. Certain considerations may make the choice for you- the age of your current car, its fuel efficiency, and distance of the trip. Other issues are more subjective- for instance, some people may consider the process of getting a rental car more of a hassle than just driving their own. Others may worry about the wear and tear a lengthy road trip may cause on their car. As the article mentions, the difficulty of this type of analysis is that it’s impossible to predict the long term effects a long road trip may have on your car, or whether or not you’ll get in some sort of accident along the way. If you do take your own car, it’s recommended that you get a maintenance tune-up before taking a trip so there are no surprises along the way!
- Food…for Thought. Odds are, you’re going to get hungry along the way during this trip. If you’re travelling with a family in tow, it may be easier (and cheaper) to bring some food for the road. Packing road snacks is never a bad idea, and if the thought of pulling over for a sit-down meal that everyone agrees to is in any way frightening/terrifying, packing in advance is the way to go. Even if you don’t want to eat in the car, you can always pull over (most rest areas have picnic areas, too) and eat outside. After all, there will be time for dining out once you reach your destination!
- Rooms for Less. Unless you stay with friends or family, lodging is an area where you can save the most money. One idea is coordinating a house-sitting exchange with a friend who is also hoping to travel. There are several websites that even let you do this with strangers (you clearly both have to be gone the same period of time and wanting to visit each other’s location for this to work). Another consideration is couch-surfing, which is a free service for travellers who just need a couch or air mattress (this works better for people who are travelling solo). If you want to stay in a hotel, consider comparing rates on booking sites like Travelocity or Expedia with the actual hotel’s website. As this article suggests, hotels have to pay booking sites a certain percentage of each sale, and may offer a different price for those who book directly. You can also check out the Roomer App on your phone, which helps people with hotel reservations they can’t make (or get refunded for) give them to other travellers who need a last minute reservation. In other words, if you are flexible about how you think of lodging, you will be able to find some deals.
- Use your phone… Or, apps on your phone, to be precise! There are all kinds of apps that can help you with various aspects of travelling. GasBuddy finds nearby gas stations with low prices. If you are a AAA member, they have an app that makes everything available-roadside assistance, AAA discounts, TripTik, and more. Coverage is a great app for travellers who need/want access to cellular data on their phones while travelling. This will tell you what the coverage in your area is based on your carrier.
No matter where you’re driving this weekend or summer, you can put money in the tank AND in the bank with the help of these road trip tips!