I recently returned from 8 days on the road with my boyfriend. We started deep in the heart of Texas, wound our way up to Utah, then over to Denver, CO, and eventually made it back to Texas. It was a lot of driving, a lot of time together, and a lot of fun! The thing it wasn’t? A lot of money.
I’m sort of a road trip pro. At this point I’ve been on 4 different week-long road trips all over the country. I’ve seen a lot of the United States of America and it’s always been two things: a blast and frugal.
Travel doesn’t have to drain your bank account. As a fan of both traveling and saving money, a road trip is a great way to do it. I spent 8 days on the road with my boo and we spent a total of $646. Divided by two that means that I spent $323 for over a week of vacation!
Ready to go on your own frugal and freaking awesome road trip? Here’s how we took our road trip for less.
1. We Camped
We spent 8 nights on the road and camped for 3 of them. Camping is a really cheap (and sometimes even free) alternative to staying at a hotel or an AirBnb. Our first campsite cost us $7, our second one was free, and our third was $20. Even our most expensive campsite was dirt cheap compared to any place with a roof. You tell me where I can find a hotel room for $20!
Camping does require some equipment. You’ll need a tent, sleeping bags, pillows for your comfort, and a flashlight for when the sun sets. That’s pretty much all you absolutely need.
If you don’t have anything, start asking friends and family if they do. We actually borrowed my boyfriends parent’s tent. Next, try something like Freecycle or the Buy Nothing Project to see if you can snag your very own for free!
2. We Went Grocery Shopping Beforehand
The day before we set out on the road I went to the grocery store and stocked up on food for our trip. I spent $48 on foods like carrots, hummus, broccoli, tortillas, bananas, peanut butter, protein bars, trail mix, and goldfish.
Foods like that add up to complete meals (veggie hummus wraps) and snacks (a banana with peanut butter). For only $48 we were able to feed ourselves for five days of our trip!
We even cooked at our campsites. Campsites that come with picnic tables and fire pits with grill covers mean you can cook, even if it’s a little more rustic than what you may be used to. I brought pasta from home and we made pasta with veggies and sauce while we were in Utah.
Imagine if we had stopped for fast food or meals in a sit down restaurant every day of our trip. We could have spent $48 on one meal instead of on 5 days worth of food. Fill a cooler with ice and your food and you’ll be set for days of eating.
3. We Skipped the Night Life
Now, this one might be a bit tricky if you’re not a grandma like me. While we were in Denver, we spent our nights drinking beers on our rental house porch or heading to bed early. We like to go to bed on the earlier side so we can get up and have a leisurely breakfast in the morning before we head out for a day full of activities.
Spending our nights drinking at bars or clubs is not an option we’re interested in and it’s a great way to spend all your money.
4. Hit Up Free City Activities
Those days full of activities we were up early for? Oh you bet they were free! We did a walking tour of the city by ourselves, a free brewery tour, caught a free performance, and went hiking. Denver is beautiful in late summer and we were happy to spend as much time as we could in the humidity-free sunshine. You don’t need to pay to amuse yourself when you’re on vacation!
I think a road trip is one of the best things you can do with someone you love spending time with. A best friend, a family member, a significant other. You’ll spend a lot of time together when you’re in a car and there’s nothing but road in front of you.
So take my tips and make your next trip a bonding experience with a loved one on the cheap!
Do you love taking road trips? What are your best tips on reducing the costs of traveling on the road?