The Money-Saving Tips I Learned on Road Trips With My Mom

Mother knows best — especially when it comes to saving money.

My mother loves to drive — she always has. Road trips are a breeze for her. She’d hit the road from Detroit to North Carolina with no problem.

I’m not a diehard road trip person, myself, but I have had to do a few as an adult when the plane fare was just not in the budget. It was during these trips that I realized hitting the highway with my mom in the past had taught me how to do road trips quickly and economically.

Click to read more about how one traveler discovered road trips can get expensive fast.

Here are a few things I learned from my mom that may help you as well.

Pack Your Own Food

First off, we would go to KFC and get a bucket of chicken. A lot of people I have talked to have similar KFC road trip memories, so it must be a thing. We packed that along with sandwiches, snacks and drinks because there would be no food stops. I also learned the hard way to lay off the drinks, because my mom was not making a ton of bathroom stops. Tip: Stick to water when you need it; but a bunch of extra tea and soft drinks on a road trip with limited stops are not a good thing.

More on Cost-Effective Travel: 7 Money-Saving Tips for Your Summer Road Trip

Rent a Fuel Efficient Vehicle

Planning to take your own car? Think twice. If your car is a gas guzzler, you should do the math on how much it would cost to fill it up each time versus the cost to rent an economy vehicle. You might find it cheaper to do the latter. I know it depends on the number of people traveling with you, but you can often find small SUVs that are good on gas, too. This saves the day, especially on long journeys.

Also, I hope this goes without saying, but you should never take a leased vehicle on a long drive.

Buy Gas Where It’s Cheap and Pay Cash

Fill up before you leave and find the cheapest gas stations along the way. Nowadays, you can do this easily because there are a ton of apps like Waze that show the nearest gas stations and the prices at each. You can map it out and plan your gas usage ahead of time. This would have come in handy big time for my mom.

As a kid, how the trip was paid for really didn’t cross my mind. I just wanted to go. I called my mother while writing this article and this is one she shared that was new to me. She said she paid cash for her gas so that she wouldn’t dread the credit card bill after the trip was over. Budget out how much gas you will need going and coming back and pay cash. Makes complete sense to me. You’ll be more conscious of your route when you have a set amount to spend on fuel for your trip

Related: A 30-Foot Pistachio and 15 Other Weird Roadside Attractions

Don’t Get a Hotel

In order to avoid using hotels, I remember we would go to bed super early the night before our trip and then set out at some ungodly hour like 2 or 3 a.m. When we left at night it was quiet and no one was on the road, and then later, when daylight came, it was easier to stay awake due to the lighting. Yes, you’ll be a little sleepy no matter how you do an 11 – 13 hour trip, but by doing it this way, leaving super early in the morning and driving all day, you’re eliminating the need to stop at a hotel like you would probably do if you set out mid-morning.

How about you? Do you follow these same rules of the road or do you have some of your own?

Click through to read more about America’s best road trips on a budget.

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