With Independence Day right around the corner, the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts a record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from their homes next week. Of those travelers, the majority (39.7 million) will be driving — a 5.1 percent increase from last year.
If you also have plans to take a long road trip this summer, here are a few budget-saving tips to make your summer drive more enjoyable and less costly.
Download time-saving (and sometimes life-saving) apps.
There are several apps you can easily download to your smartphone to help save money and time during your travels. Download the following apps before you pack up your car and go:
- GasBuddy to find the best and cheapest stations to stop for gas.
- Waze to prepare yourself for any unexpected traffic, avoidable accidents or well-hidden cop cars.
- Roadtrippers to map out everything you don’t want to miss out on between point A and point B.
- Foursquare to find the best restaurants and fun detours in a city you may not be familiar with.
- Audible to make the time fly by with a great audiobook.
Get your car ready for the long drive.
You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for AAA in a city you’ve never been to before. That’s why you need to prepare your car for your trip well in advance. Get your car tuned up and checked out about a week or two before you hit the road to avoid any roadside breakdowns. You should also make sure your tires are inflated to the correct PSI so you will get the most gas mileage out of your vehicle.
Pack your car with the essentials.
Making sure that you have a few necessities packed in your car in advance can help lower the number of stops you will need to make along the way. For example, if you have a cooler stocked with your favorite beverages and snacks, you won’t need to stop at a restaurant or convenience store. Don’t forget to pack car chargers for mobile phones and other electronics so that you won’t need to find somewhere to stop and recharge them — you can do it while you’re on the go.
Think ahead when it comes to lodging.
Camping is a great, low-cost way to spend the night when you’re on a road trip — and it can be a lot of fun. Take a look at potential campgrounds along your route before you start your engine. And if the great outdoors is not your idea of a good night’s sleep, then at least try to plan out which hotels you will stay in along the way. The Roadtrippers app mentioned above is a great resource for figuring out where the most budget-friendly sleeping options are located along your route.