Many of us will spend the next few months driving to our favorite winter activity, whether it be skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, or catching up with friends and family after the holidays. To help save you money while you’re on the go this winter, Winslow Community Federal Credit Union put together the following budget-friendly tips for taking the perfect road trip.
Schedule a Tune Up
Make a visit to a familiar mechanic for a general check-up before you begin a road trip. Check your tires, battery, wiper blades, lights, and fluid levels. This can help you avoid any breakdowns that have the potential for costly repairs with unfamiliar mechanics. Not only could a breakdown cut your road trip short, but it could put quite a dent in your savings. If possible, put aside some money for when those unexpected expenses pop up.
Make a list of essential items ahead of your trip and be sure to check it twice before departing. A toothbrush, phone charger, and a razor are all things you’ll more than likely use along your journey. You probably already have these essential items at home already, so avoid paying a pretty penny and bring them with you! These items can cost more when purchased onsite at your final destination. Paying for something you already own stings, so avoid the unnecessary purchase and put a little extra effort into preparation. It will certainly pay off!
Be Cautious of Gas Prices
Instead of stressfully searching around for the cheapest gas, use apps such as CheapGas or GasBuddy to locate the station with the best prices. According to fueleconomy.gov, fuel efficiency decreases as your speed increases, making road trips more expensive for those with heavy feet. Slow down and enjoy the scenery! And when it is time to fill up, look for gas stations away from the highway. Gas stations adjacent to the highway are typically a bit more expensive than others, as they are the most convenient options.
Save Your Data
Unless you have an unlimited data plan, which seems to be few and far between these days, you’re probably draining gigabytes and risking overage fees with your use of GPS and music streaming. Instead, take screenshots of your maps and download music to your phone ahead of time. Pack a physical copy of an atlas if you can to avoid any potential problems.
Plan Ahead with Food and Lodging
Create a budget when it comes to your food and lodging, and stick to it. Pack filling, healthy snacks like granola bars and nuts with you. Avoid any perishables or snacks that melt or are messy. Packing your own snacks can reduce the number of stops you make, where you can end up paying the premium. And if you do stop, use apps like LivingSocial or Groupon to find deals on restaurants. Book your hotels far in advance or consider using a home sharing service like Airbnb, HomeAway, or VRBO for a lower cost.
Split Costs with Others
A road trip by yourself can be both lonely and expensive. Plan a trip with friends or family and plan to split the costs among everyone. With current technology like mobile banking, Venmo, and PayPal, splitting costs have never been so easy.