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Many folks enjoy road trips because they can be cheaper. That is, if you avoid several common money traps. If you’re interested in budget travel, use the following tips to save money on a road trip and prevent costly mishaps.
Chances are your car needs a checkup before you get going. Otherwise, you risk falling victim to a big road-trip money trap: a car breakdown that could have been prevented. You or a trusted mechanic should check the tires for tread and see if they need to be rotated. Other car areas to look at include the oil, brakes, windshield wipers, turn signals and headlights .
Some people prefer to rent a car for road trips, possibly because they do not have a car, lack a car that works well for a road trip or simply don’t want to put road-trip wear and tear on their car. If you rent, you might even save a little money in the long run when you get a car with better fuel efficiency than the car you own. For further savings, look for online discounts and independent agencies. However, always do a cost breakdown to ensure that car rental is a wise budgetary decision. You probably do not need rental car insurance, but check with your current car insurer or credit card company first.
One of the biggest money traps of any road trip is the assumption that you have a good idea of how much things will cost. You might, but you might not. In any case, it is always best to test your assumptions and prepare a comprehensive budget that accounts for expenses such as gas, accommodations, food and fun time. Add 10 percent to 15 percent of that total for emergencies and expenses you may have overlooked. Save some money each month to go toward your road trip and to keep credit card costs to a minimum.
Pricey food and drinks can be hard on your wallet during a road trip, so pack wisely. For example, fill a cooler with ice, bottled water and other beverages of your choice. Also stow flashlights, paper maps, nutritious snacks and even an emergency blanket. Put together an emergency kit that includes ointment, bandages and gauze, especially if you are traveling with children. Speaking of children, there’s no need to spend a few hundred dollars on an in-car DVD player. Head to your local library before leaving on the trip, and check out a diverse range of audiobooks. They do very well at keeping people entertained.