Road trips are the ultimate vacation. They really the best way to see the country. There might be an allure to packing up the car and just heading where the road takes you. However, that can end up being a very expensive trip. You want to enjoy your time on the road and that means working within a budget. Here are some smart tips for taking a road trip on a budget:

Plot Your Course

You should have a destination in mind for your road trip. Once that has been determined, you’ll want to put together a route. Fortunately, GPS technology has made it easy to create a road trip map without resorting to the old-fashioned folded map that is hard to read and even harder to fold! By using GPS and your Smartphone’s map apps you will not only find the shortest route to get to where you want to go but you’ll be able to identify all the spots in between that are worth stopping at.

Tune Up the Car

The worst thing that can happen on a road trip is for your car to break down. This issue is compounded if you are in a strange town and don’t have a trusted mechanic helping you out. That is why you want to get the car tuned up before you leave. It’s a good time to catch up with the maintenance schedule especially on a car that has at least 50,000 miles on the odometer.

Be Smart With Your Gas 

You will no doubt be making a lot of stops for gas on your road trip. You can reduce the frequency of those trips by practicing good mileage. That begins with your speed. If you can maintain an average speed of 50 mph then you’ll be in a great zone for saving gas. Every 5 mph over that number can cost you an additional $.19 per gallon for gas. You also want to avoid idling for extended periods of time. And if you can drive without air conditioning with the windows open that will save even more gas. Also, keep an eye on gas prices. The gas stations just off the highway tend to inflate their prices knowing that they have “captive” customers. If you were to drive a few miles beyond the highway exit, then you might find cheaper gas.

Make Frugal Food Choices 

Next, to the gas you put in the car, you will probably be spending a lot on food for your road trip. Here is where you need to make some frugal food choices. For instance, if you are staying in a hotel along the way, then look for one that offers a complimentary breakfast. It might also be more affordable to pack lunches in a cooler versus stopping at restaurants. Save that for dinner. Again, once you get off the highway go a little bit further beyond the actions and you’ll find restaurants that are offering better deals.

Look for Cheap Accommodations

You can’t drive all night through. You’ll need to rest but that doesn’t mean you have to stay at every four-star hotel between here and the destination. Look for budget-friendly accommodations like camping or chain motels. If you can book in advance lockdown a good rate, then build your trip around that. You might also find that vacation rental sites where folks are renting out rooms or homes will be much more affordable than a hotel.

Enjoy the trip!