It's finally summer, which means you probably want to go on a vacation. That's great and all, but taking a vacation costs serious money -- especially if you're dreaming of those gorgeous European destinations you're probably seeing all over Insta.
No, you don't have to visit the Amalfi Coast to have an awesome vacation. How are you supposed to have a great trip without actually flying anywhere? Road trip!!!!!
While road trips are much cheaper than the typical vacation, you'll still need to spend some cash. Here are seven ways to save money on your summer road trip.
1. Don't Always Go For The Closest Gas Station
Your biggest travel costs with a road trip will probably be gas. Use an app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas stations near you. Their site also has a helpful Trip Cost calculator tool where you enter where you're going, the make and model of your car, what the MPG is and how big the gas tank is to get a gas estimate for the entire trip. It's important to plan this part out so you know what your budget is -- maybe you can afford that super cool Airbnb if you're able to save $50 on gas!
2. Schedule Car Maintenance Before Leaving
Before the road trip, take your car to the mechanic and have them check out everything, from oil to air filters. Also make sure you have a spare tire and car jack, just in case anything happens while you're driving. Also check that your tires are fully inflated -- if they're under-inflated, your gas mileage will decrease and they aren't as safe to drive on.
3. Drive Smart
Yes, there actually are ways you can drive your car efficiently and improve how many MPG you get. The biggest one is to drive sensibly, not aggressively. Quickly accelerating and braking wastes a ton of gas -- on the highway your gas mileage could decrease as much as 30%.
Another way to maximize gas mileage is to use the cruise control function of your car. Driving at a constant speed is much more fuel efficient, as you won't burn gas by hitting the gas pedal. You also shouldn't strap any cargo to your roof (it increases wind resistance, lowering fuel economy) and should remove any excess weight from your car.
4. Skip The Drive-Thrus
Instead of stopping for fast food the whole way there, pack a cooler and keep it in the car with you. Load up on sandwiches, snacks and drinks so you don't have to buy any food while you're driving up. On one of my road trips from Florida to Washington D.C., we only had to stop for food once -- we packed a cooler full of food, even fresh fruits and iced tea.
5. Make Sure All Your Friends Pay Their Share
It's easy for someone to say they'll split something if you pay for it now, and then never actually give you the money. Use an app like Splitwise, which makes it super easy to keep track of who owes what. It's a little more intricate than requesting money on regular payment apps like Venmo or PayPal, and it'll also send email reminders to people who still haven't paid up so you don't have to keep bugging them about it.
6. Take Advantage Of Free Things To Do
This one might seem like a given, but different cities offer different free activities! Check if there are any free museum days, free parks or local events. If you're on a super tight budget, camp out somewhere scenic instead of spending money on a hotel or Airbnb.