The Fourth of July is coming up next week, which means a good majority of folks will be hitting the road this weekend. With gas prices going down (an amazing 40 cents in some areas of Portland), there are going to be more people than you thought getting out of town over the next seven days. Even though you are stoked that gas has become more affordable, you can also help ease the strain of another trip on your bank account with some tips on frugal road tripping.
If renting a car, make sure to bring your own GPS. A rental can run you up to $15 per day and if it gets stolen, it will cost a whole lot more to replace than one you bought yourself. Make sure to pick up free maps and guide books from your local AAA travel store (if you’re a member) or order online. You never know when technology will fail you, so having a back-up source for navigating is always a good idea.
Pack a cooler full of delicious snacks, sandwich fixings and side dishes. Fried chicken and coleslaw are always crowd-pleasers. Make sure you include bottled water for hydration and lots of nutritious items, like fruits and veggies that taste great raw. Instead of spending money on greasy roadside diners or fast-food, stop off at a scenic overlook, nice rest area or park and have a picnic. It will give you a chance to stretch your legs while you reenergize. If you have little ones, bring a ball or Frisbee and let them burn off some energy before they get back in the car.
Plan some stops along the way at places you may never have been to before. The Oregon Vortex or something like the biggest ball of twine seems hokey, but can be a really fun and affordable activity to make your road trip even more memorable. Stopping along the way can give everyone something to look forward to, keep you from having to answer the “Are we there yet?” question fifty times and ease tension between backseat mates (also known as the “He’s LOOKING at me!” and the “She’s TOUCHING me!” and the “Stay on your side!!!!” arguments that crop up when cooped up for hours in the car).
When making a stop at a restaurant (because you will) or a rest stop (because there will be no preventing it), pick up a few of the roadside travel magazines they have there and save big on hotels, dining and sometimes even attractions along your route. If you like to wing it and see how far you can travel each day before you stop for the night, this is the way to do it. Save big over already affordable lodgings and dining establishments. You can also find more discounts on brochures in hotel lobbies, which is more perfect if you don’t have a firm schedule and find something awesome you want to take advantage of.
Make sure you research any festivals happening along the way. This can give you an idea for something fun to do en route and also let you know to book a hotel room in advance. Nothing sucks worse than when you are super tired and can’t find a place with a vacancy and end up having to sleep in your car in a campsite at two in the morning.
Saving on road trips is easy if you have a plan ahead of time. Make sure to pack your iPod with your favorite tunes, podcasts or audiobooks to keep you rocking, laughing or entertained on your journey. A good arsenal of road trip games is also a must, as well as books, magazines and possibly handheld digital gaming devices.
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