How to set yourself up for a lifetime of road trips on a budget

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Travel and affordable don’t seem like two words that fit together naturally. Most people would find themselves saving for endless months to afford a once-in-a-lifetime trip, only to return to the ‘sameness’ of their lives once the vacation came to an end. But if I tell you that it can be different? That you can organize yourself and have multiple road trips on a budget.

Travel doesn’t have to be something you have to save or plan for. It can also be something you can do on a whim, when you see the weather forecast is desirable, or when you just need to get away from the house for a few days. Road trips are perfect for this. You can plan them quickly, they don’t need much booking or organizing, and you can be free to go and do wherever you want.

Once-in-a-lifetime trips are still worth working toward, but you might set yourself up for a lifetime of travels on a budget by doing some of the following things. 

Practical tips for organizing road trips on a budget

Fresh coffee to continue the adventure. Close-up of a young couple holding mugs while enjoying the view of a mountain range from their tent. Buying a good tent is the best thing you can do to do several road trips on a budget.
From mountains to beach towns, road trips on a budget as the best way to explore your region, state, and even country.

Purchase a quality shelter

Hotels and motels can cost several hundred dollars per night in some parts of the world, especially during peak travel seasons. However, they are not the only form of accommodation at your disposal. You can purchase traditional ground tents or even rooftop tents for installation on your vehicle from quality stockists.

Rather than blowing your travel budget on a roof over your head when you’ll spend most of your days exploring, you can purchase a tent for car camping that provides you with accommodation no matter where you go.

Buy camping equipment to keep your road trips on a budget

Many people book accommodation because they don’t have the necessary equipment to set up camp out in nature. There’s no denying that it can take time to build up a healthy stock of camping equipment, but it can be worth it when you can eventually hit the road to somewhere exciting (like Alaska) with everything you need to cook, stay warm, and remain comfortable. 

When you purchase high-quality camping supplies, you can also rest assured that they’re made to last. For example, most down-filled sleeping bags can last upwards of five years to a decade if well taken care of. You can also have cooking equipment for your lifetime, making it one of the most cost-effective purchases.    

A couple is camping in the wilderness, probably on a road trip in the US. Wild camping is an excellent way to road trip on a budget.
Road trips can connect you with your loved ones, friends, new people, and nature.

Make connections

Going on vacation is all about experiencing new things and spending time with your loved ones, but it can also be about meeting new people. The more people you meet, the more connections you might have for your next vacation. If you need somewhere to stay or need to borrow something to make your travels more convenient, you might be able to call upon those you’ve met in the past to help make your vacation as inexpensive as possible. 

Write down details and keep an eye on your budget

If you’ve stayed at one of the most affordable campgrounds you’ve ever come across, or you found a hideaway restaurant with unbelievable prices, don’t forget to write down details for your travels in the future. Over time, your notes can form a booklet of money-saving information to serve you well on future travels. Any time you feel like hitting the road for some much-needed rest and relaxation, you can plan a trip based on how much money you have to spare. 

You can also have a look at our Traveling Costs Page, where we share saving money tips and the costs of traveling to several destinations worldwide.

Take advantage of travel deals and discounts

Most of us don’t like paying full price for anything if we can avoid it, and there’s no reason why you have to pay full price on your travels. Before setting off on an adventure, check out travel deals and discount websites to find out if you can save money on activities, food, and even accommodation should you decide to take a break from luxury car camping. 

Depending on the time of year and how in-demand certain attractions are, you might be able to save several hundred dollars over the course of a single vacation and several thousand over your lifetime of adventures. 

Learn how to eat on a budget

Food is a big part of exploring new towns, cities, and countries, but not everyone can afford to dine in restaurants three times a day. To ensure you have money left over for attractions and activities, learn how to eat cheaply in new locations. 

People are cooking at a camping site. It looks like friends sharing a special moment while traveling on a budget.
Eating at local joints or cooking are the best ways to keep our road trips on a budget.

Buffets offer some of the best value for money, as do many street vendors selling sandwiches and other delectable and filling meals and snacks. While not overly nutritious, fast food from chain restaurants can sometimes be affordable in many countries and can be an ideal filler if you’re short on time.

You might also be surprised by how much money you can save by keeping your soda and coffee purchases to a minimum. Instead, purchase a refillable water bottle and refill this at safe refilling locations. 

Alternatively, if you’re car tent camping, you can prepare meals yourself on your camp stove. Rice, noodles, eggs, and baked potatoes, are some of the many convenient, affordable, and easy-to-prepare dishes. They also take very little time to prepare and can be customized with different ingredients and recipes to avoid taste bud boredom.

We all deserve vacations where we don’t have to worry about money, but we also shouldn’t have to stay at home until we’ve saved up enough money for them. By taking some of the actions above, you might be surprised by how often you’re able to set off on new adventures without putting yourself in a dire financial situation.

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Practical tips to organize and go on multiple road trips on a budget throughout the year. From getting the right gear to saving tips on cooking and accommodation. Here is a guide to getting started on road trips.

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