Hi there, I'm Payje from Life All Over. I take pictures, I travel, I cook, I clean, I coupon, and I am moving to Alaska. Talk about a BIG road trip. If you want to share in the joy of our 4,000 mile journey, you can follow along on Facebook, Twitter, by email, or just by checking out lifeallover.com. I consider myself to be a road-tripping veteran, and I decided to pull my top 5 ways to save on the road together to share with you today.
1. Gas: Consider a shopping club membership
It will cost you 50.00 to start up, but I promise you, my friends, it will be worth your while. If you are road tripping, you will probably be planning your trip ahead of time. If you are not planning your trip ahead of time, then that is the answer to your question of “why am I spending so much money?” Anyway, while you are looking at Google maps and planning your route, try to find a Costco or a Sam’s Club in the cities that you are driving through.
In general, the gas prices at Costco are on average about .10-.15 cents lower per gallon than at other gas stations. This may not seem like a ton, but it WILL save you a lot throughout the year. I won’t bore you with the math here (actually I am just really bad at math), but if you are going on a long road trip where you have to fuel up a lot, it is going to save you a decent amount of money right off the top of your trip.
2. Eating out and activities: Daily deal sites
Everyone knows that I’m a big fan of daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. You might love them because without them you wouldn’t have gotten to go to that fancy pants restaurant last weekend, or you would have had to send your kids to the Glamour Shots store at the mall for their senior photos. Well, you can translate your daily deal site love into vacation savings! Here’s what you do (this is all part of the “prior planning” thing we were talking about earlier): You most likely know where you are going on your trip, even if you like to make it seem sort of spontaneous. Add the cities you will be staying in to your list in Groupon and Living Social, that way you will get the deals for that city sent right to you. This is a vacation and you’re going to be eating out and doing the tourist thing, but you may just be able to do it for half price if you play your cards right.
3. Hotels, shows and events: Travelzoo
I find Travelzoo to be the best friend a traveler can have. They have our backs whether we are traveling to Tahiti, or to Denver. Sign up for the Travelzoo weekly top 20 list, and they will send you the best deals from around the country (and around the world). Their hotel deals are fantastic, they get you four and five star hotels for 2 star prices (so you don’t have to bring your own sheets, or worse yet, sleep in your car everywhere like my boyfriend and I used to do!) If you have been monitoring the top 20 for a while and haven’t seen the city you are going to, check out the rest of the site… the deals aren’t quite as good, but they still beat the heck out of snuggling up in the back of your car on a deserted road somewhere. And they’re still affordable.
4. Pack your lunch silly!
This may be completely obvious to you, but I still think it deserves a spot on the top 5 ways to save on a road trip. You may be eating out when you reach your destination, but I strongly believe that the absolute best way to save money on the road is by bringing your own food. As a general rule (and we road trip a LOT), my boyfriend and I stick to eating out only at dinner time.
This is how we do it: I always bring a large cooler, and a recycle bag full of dry food. The cooler usually has lunch meat, jelly, condiments and drinks, and the dry food usually consists of bread, chips and crackers, cookies, fruit, poptarts, peanut butter, etc. If you are a couponer, you most likely have a stockpile of these things at home already, so just load up the car and bring them with you. Even if you are eating fast food, your bill will come to between $10 and $25 per meal, whereas if you are eating coupon food, your meals will be closer to 1$-2$ each, then you can go ahead and eat out for dinner. I also think this is great because you can find pretty places to eat your picnic and get to know different places better, rather than just getting to know each McDonald’s.
5. Bring your coupons, but don’t stress about it too much.
I would definitely suggest bringing your coupons with you (some of you are reading this, aghast, saying “I never go ANYWHERE without my coupons!”) You never know when you may need any little thing that you forgot to bring, and if you don’t have your binder money (that’s what I like to call my coupons) then you are just SOL. Save money on your trip like you would at home, but don’t freak out about it. You don’t have to frantically do matchups for every store along the way, or try to foresee each potential hazard, just go with the flow on this one. DON’T FREAK OUT IF YOU HAVE TO PAY RETAIL. And if you have followed all of the tips above, you will be just fine. So drive off into the wild blue yonder, and enjoy your trip!