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How to Save Money on Road Trips

Posted by the Money Examiners

Summer road trips are an old tradition, but it can get expensive fast. However, there are a lot of ways how to save money on road trips for those who plan wisely. Most people who spend too much money on a road trip simply don’t plan so they find themselves with only a few expensive options.

Money Saving Tips for the Road


  • First, check out the cost of airfare. Even with all the extra fees, airlines are charging, sometimes flying is still often cheaper than shelling out for gas, hotel rooms, and food each day on the road. Before you plan a road trip, visit websites like,, and to see how much airline tickets cost. If you’re flexible with reservations flying can often be cheaper.

  • Shop like you would if you were staying home. When you’re on the road, look for some of the cheaper places you normally shop; like Walmart, Costco, Aldi, Walgreens, Trader Joe’s, dollar stores, Kroger supermarkets, Target, and Sam’s Club. These chains run websites that show their locations. Walmart even sells maps and road atlases that shows its’ locations. A road trip doesn’t have to be a budget breaker. A little imagination and common sense can help save money on the road.


  • Bring your rewards and membership cards. Costco and Sam’s Club cards are good at all locations nationwide. Costco operates in Canada as well. The rewards points cards issued by the Kroger and Safeway supermarkets are good at stores nationwide. Kroger operates under a wide variety of brand names so check its website before you leave. Something to keep in mind is that Kroger and Safeway operate filling stations that accept their cards and provide discounts in many states.

  • Use a rewards credit card to pay for the trip’s expenses, particularly gasoline. A rewards card will save money and make it easy to manage expenses. The True Earnings Card from American Express provides 3% cash back for purchases made at gas stations.


  • Save money on road trips by staying off the road during peak travel times. Not only are the highways more crowded, but prices for hotel rooms and gas are higher. Try to avoid traveling during the weeks before and after Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, which are usually the busiest travel weekend holidays of the year, and the most dangerous for automobile collisions.


  • Travel during late summer when many motels offer lower rates in August and September to make up for slower traffic. If you don’t have kids, consider traveling before school lets out in May when a lot of families aren’t on the road or after children return to school in September, another way how to save money on road trips.

  • Book hotel rooms ahead of time using a discount website. This can help you find the lowest rates. It can also sometimes help you stay at a much nicer hotel for the money. Traveling during the middle of the week is also cheaper, especially on Wednesdays for air travel. The highways can also be less crowded and many motels offer lower rates mid-week.


  • Use an app. Hotel Tonight can help you get a 70% discount at some hotels. helps locate the cheapest gas stations. MenuPages lets travelers view menus at thousands of restaurants.


  • Get a motel room with a kitchen to cook meals on the road. Food from the grocery store is much cheaper than restaurant meals. Preparing meals should not need to take up that much time, with a wide assortment of frozen dinners. For breakfast, it doesn’t take that long to put milk and cereal in a bowl or fry an egg.

  • Pack lunches. It’s much cheaper and also healthier than stopping at fast food restaurants.


  • Map out the trip. Use websites to locate the cheapest gas and motels, and then use a map to plan your trip to take advantage of them. Motel rooms are also often cheaper in smaller towns off Interstate highways.

A little planning and clever usage of modern technology can save you a fortune when you are on the road. The more you plan, the more you will save on the road this summer.

Who are the Money Examiners?


The Money Examiners are a team of journalists, and experts in stocks, bonds, real estate, money management, personal finance, and banking dedicating to helping consumers better navigate the dangerous world of finance.