7 Ways to Save Money on Road Trips

The Wisconsin River at Spring Green.

Memorial Day weekend may bring with it record gas prices, which doesn’t bode well for those like me who’ve planned an entire summer of traveling by motor vehicle, in my case a gigantic gas-guzzling Ford E-150 Conversion Van. Luckily, there are numerous ways to get more mileage from your dollars. Here are some money saving tips for every road tripper.

City Pass
City Pass offers an affordable way of taking in museums, zoos and other points of interest. Available in nine major American cities and one in Canada, City Pass shaves 50 percent off your admission to designated locations. Each city restricts differently how the passes can be used. For example, in Philly, they must be used within nine days of purchase, but the upside is that I saved $60.

National Parks Pass
If you’re road tripping odds are you’ll be doin’ some campin’. For those cruising around the Western states, consider picking up a National Park Pass. At $80, the pass gets you into every national park in the country. Visit three parks and you’re $5 bucks shy of having your money back. Think of what you’ll save on hotel rooms. The pass covers up to four adults and one vehicle and is good for a year from the date of purchase.

Another option many don’t know about is that it’s free and legal to camp on land designated as National Forest for up to 45 days. Most road maps indicate National Forest lands, which, like National Parks, are plentiful in the western states.

I was so excited when my first AAA card arrived because it seemed to usher in a new era of personal responsibility. Previous road trips had been marred by car troubles, and though AAA didn’t prevent my van from going bezerk last summer, it sure saved me lots of money the four times I had it towed. Add to this the discounts I received at motels and my savings from not having to pay after locking the keys in the vehicle. For an annual fee, you can choose one of three very straightforward plans.

Groupon offers a variety of daily specials for a range of locations. Type in your zip code and poof! Instant savings. They often have coupons for admission discounts at special attractions. Last week, they offered half-off admission to New York’s modern art museum. Had I seen this before I went to New York last weekend, I’d have purchased it and saved $20. Groupon should be your first online destination for deals upon arriving in a new city.

Oil Change Coupons
No road tripper should embark on a long road trip with dirty oil. This site offers discount coupons for many national oil change brands, like Jiffy Lube and Valvoline. The coupons are printable so you can have them at the ready before you set out, or you can just jot down the discount code for the cashier. Regular oil changes also improves gas mileage for additional savings.

I like keeping a cooler, but hate paying for ice everyday. You can eliminate your ice costs but hitting up small motels. I’ve found that most motels will let you walk away with free ice from their machine, provided you ask first. It isn’t quality cubed ice, but it’ll keep your salami cold and it’s free!

Gas Buddy
With gas prices soaring, finding the cheapest petro wherever you are is essential. Gas Buddy does the work for you. And because cheaper gas is often found in less affluent areas, this pursuit of savings has the added benefit of taking you through the city.




  1. Becky says:

    Great advice! Don’t forget it is so important to take out travel insurance. I know so many people who have experienced medical and legal problems while abroad and haven’t been covered by insurance. Messy! Personally I always use <a href=”http://www.flexicover.co.uk“>flexicover</a> 

  2. This is a good list.  I think that you are dead on when it comes to using oil change coupons.  Another thing you can try when getting your oil changed is to try to use a competitors oil change coupon.  Most oil change service centers will deal match…

  3. Those are some great tips you have there! We’re planning long family road trip next year (three months in the West) and you gave me some great ideas. House rental may not be an option though, as most places only give the cheaper rates on weekly rentals and I don’t think we’ll be staying for that long in any single place.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting