Road-Tripping on a Budget (College Style)

April 15th, 2013 by

My years in college before coming to Silko Honda taught me how to be a master at the cheap road trip. After one ill-planned venture turned into a financial disaster for me and several buddies, I decided I need to get more serious about the preparation process. After several more road-trips before graduation, I felt that planning for our cross country voyages taught me more about budgeting, organization, task delegating, and team work, than my entire degree program had.

Tips for Planning a Road Trip on the Cheap

So, if you’re getting impatient for summer to arrive and are planning on heading south, allow me to pass down some of my garnered wisdom to you:

  • Be wary of including your credit card in a budget: this was one of the pitfalls that trapped me during that first fateful road trip. While it seems logical to just put all your expenses off and pay for them later, the truth is in the plan: you’re going to have to pay for them later, and with interest. And trust me, you’ll be just as broke then as you are now. As an alternative, borrow from a family member. They probably won’t charge interest and will be more forgiving of late payments. Also, consider if you’re able to take this trip financially, or if you should wait and save up a little more.
  • Keep all receipts: the best way to make sure that no feelings get hurt when it comes to money is to keep track of all your group’s spending, such as lodging and gas. The best way to do this is to designate a treasurer who will keep track of who paid for what and how things need to be evened out at the end.
  • Plan your stops and where you’re staying: if you plan on doing your trip in several legs, don’t assume there is going to be a good place to stop wherever you get tired. Chances are there will be a hotel somewhat close to many highway exits, but it probably by far isn’t the best when it comes to prices. Use the internet, plan ahead, and find the best deal.
  • Bring your own food: buying from restaurants during your trip will very quickly add up. Rather, bring a cooler and pack some food yourself. You’ll probably eat much healthier, too. Trust me, the smell of four guys in a tight car who have eaten nothing but fast food for the past 2,000 miles is a little unbearable.
  • Pack light: the lighter everyone packs, the more room you’ll have in the car. Less weight also means better fuel economy, a huge expense you shouldn’t forget to include in your budgeting process.

Get service before leaving: while it will cost money up front, coming to a place like the Silko Honda service center will make sure your car doesn’t break down on the road. You could get stranded out in the middle of nowhere or wind up far from home with a repair bill far beyond what you can pay.