7 Ways To Save Money On Your Cross Country Road Trip

Road tripping across the United States is something that is often talked about and is on many people’s “lists” for what they would like to accomplish in their lifetime. It’s definitely something that people can do with a little planning ahead and it can even be done on the cheap. Here are a few ways to save cash while going on a road trip across the United States:
On The Road
On The Road

1. Couchsurf:

I’ve mentioned this method of travel quite a few times on here, but for the value that it offers, I don’t think it can be said enough. If you go to Couchsurfing.com and type in the place that you plan on spending your night(s), you can see if there are any local hosts who are offering you a place to stay – for free! All of the hosts have to go through a background check and are certified by the company. It’s a safe and easy way to travel and can easily save you thousands of dollars.

2. Other Accommodation Options:

If there aren’t any local Couchsurfing hosts, you can see about finding a local campground or place to camp at for a few dollars a night or for free. You may even be able to sleep in your car depending on where you park. If you do have a little money to spend, most places also have little budget hotels, even if it’s a very small town, just be sure to do some research beforehand.

3. Find a Traveling Partner:

While not at all an “absolute must” for traveling, having a friend or relative (it makes it much easier if you’ve known them for awhile, so don’t pick up Bob off the side of the road) can make things better on many levels. For one they can split costs with you making our trip much more doable, give you company, and help the trip go smoother. Be sure to make sure that you won’t want to kill them after 12 hours of being stuck with them though — because crimes like that can be a pain to cover up.

4. Saving on Gas:

There isn’t much you can do in this area, but if you use a gas company chain that is common across where you’ll be traveling, you can become a member or get a rewards card. The few cents off per gallon can add up and some gas stations like “Speedway” offer a rewards system built on points to earn you free snacks and drinks. If you’re able to use a truck stop, they generally have cheaper gas as well.

5. Stick To Free Activities:

Bored and looking for something to do for a few hours? Paying money every time you’re looking for some entertainment is a quick way to deplete your cash. Instead, check out when the local museums have “free entrance” hours. Or if it’s a nice day and you’re in a city, see if there are street performers somewhere. Or, you can just get lost wandering and exploring on foot.

6. Pack Your Food:

The benefit of road tripping versus taking a plane to your destination is that you can buy bags of groceries and travel with them if you’re using a car. Forget stopping at a McDonald’s every few hours and eating the vending machine snacks at rest stops, just buy your own food. You can bring a cooler stocked with ice to keep your food cold and make sandwiches when you get hungry. This can bring the cost of each meal down to a few dollars per person instead of eight or more.

7. Don’t Have a Car?

It’s still definitely possible to road trip across the U.S. without a car. You can choose to rent a car if you’re 25 and older, but that can be pretty expensive in and of itself. So what I suggest is using a site like blablacar where you find someone who is traveling close or to the destination that you want from your local area and sharing a ride with them. It normally costs less than renting a car and you are able to have company along the way.

There are also other ways that you can travel without a car at all, such as using a bus or taking the train. Trains in the U.S. tend to be very limited, especially in rural areas and with the current rail project in the states moving at a snail’s pace, we won’t be close to Europe’s system anytime soon. However, trains are still definitely an option depending on where you’re at and buses seem to be pretty common everywhere and can be very affordable.

Have you gone on a road trip across the United States? I’d love to hear about what you’ve done to save money on the road in the comments! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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