10 Best Tips for a Road Trip on the Cheap
It can be expensive to hit the road. Here are 10 road trip tips from an experienced traveler for smooth (and cheap!) sailing.
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Pack non-perishable snacks
Your biggest priority for a road trip on the cheap (besides spending quality time and seeing the sites): keeping a food stash. Especially if your hotel isn’t serving brunch or you know you won’t have time to stop, having easy breakfast options and filling snacks with you will make a big difference.
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Go grocery shopping
Even when you can’t cook full meals along the way, stock up perishable snacks every so often. It will cut back on the number of stops you need to make at the drive-thru and you’ll save money, too. Look for quick, healthy-ish bites, like string cheese, pre-made wraps and fruit (don’t forget to wash in at the supermarket).
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Don’t buy bags of ice
Use the hotel ice maker to refill your car cooler and keep snacks cold. You might want to pick up a cooler like this that you can roll into the hotel room with your other things. (It will make checking in and out much easier.)
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Reuse water bottles
Forget buying a plastic water bottle at every gas station. Pack at least two reusable water bottles per person to refill during stops. Make sure your bottles are insulated to keep drinks cold without having to take up room in the cooler.
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Bring extra utensils
What happens when the drive-thru forgets to give you silverware—and you don’t notice until you’re on the road again? Bring a few sets of reusable forks and spoons to eat a pasta salad from home or chow down on takeout.
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Stop for cheap local eats
Don’t forget to indulge in regional foods, though. It’s a more interesting option than a chain like Taco Bell or McDonald’s, because you get to taste some local flavors. Why not stop for a dish from the best diner in each state?
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Keep bags and napkins with you
You’ll never know when there will be an unexpected spill or accident in the car, so make sure to have your glove box stocked with napkins or paper towels. Same goes for plastic bags that can be used for trash or recycling during the drive.
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Map out food stops
Uh, oh—you’re hungry but the next restaurant isn’t for another 60 miles. What do you do? Aside from making a meal of your assorted snacks, it’s easier to plan ahead. Make sure your driving plans for the day line up with an eating schedule so you don’t get too hungry on the road.
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Drink caffeine (but not too much)
If you’re a coffee or tea person, don’t overdo it. Your priority should be drinking water, because it’s SO easy to get dehydrated during long stretches of driving. If you’re feeling sleepy on the road, get out and stretch your legs before you decide to stop for a fresh cup.
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Listen to podcasts or audiobooks
Is your road trip a family affair? These family travel tips will keep everybody happy.