Budget Better: Tips to go on a budget-friendly road trip

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We're here to help you master the art of a cheap road trip.

With spring break coming up and gas prices at an all-time low, now is a perfect time to start planning that road trip you've been wanting to take. Whether it's a quick weekend excursion or a cross country journey, we have the ultimate go-to guide on simple financing tips for your travels, including suggestions for the best eating options on a budget, money-saving gas tips, low-cost lodging recs and everything in between.

For example, you should always avoid fueling up near popular areas. You'll find inflated gas prices near common tourist destinations and metropolitan areas, so it's worth venturing to the town over for more affordable prices. Gas costs on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in California are known to be considerably higher than the stations a few miles off the main highway. Apps like GasBuddy and Roadtrippers come in handy when searching for the best fuel deal.

For all you penny-pinchers wanting a road trip that won't empty your pockets, we're here to help you budget better.

View the slideshow below for the top money-saving tips:
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Budget Better: Tips to go on a budget-friendly road trip

1. Calculate your expected fuel cost before your trip. It’s always wise to get an accurate estimation of how much to budget for gas beforehand. GasBuddy's fuel calculator is an excellent tool to get an expected price point. Just enter your vehicle information, startpoint and endpoint, and the app will calculate how much you’ll spend.

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2. Don’t fuel up near popular areas. You’ll find inflated gas prices near popular tourist destinations and metropolitan areas, so it’s worth venturing to the town over for more affordable prices. For example, gas costs on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in California are considerably higher than the stations a few miles off the main highway.

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3. Fill up your tank at truck stops. You'll often find the cheapest gas prices here. 

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4. Download gas apps. Apps like GasBuddy and GasGuru come in handy by computing the cheapest station in relation to your current location.

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5. Drive efficiently to save gas costs. These 5 fuel-efficient tips are proven to maintain a full tank longer:

           1. Turn off your AC

2. Engage cruise control in low-traffic areas

3. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking

4. Inflate tires close to maximum

5. Avoid speeding

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6. Travel with friends. Traveling with a few buddies is an efficient (and fun) way to save cash by splitting the cost of a tank.

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7. Grocery shop in advance. Pack water and snacks beforehand in a cooler -- inflated convenience store prices will eat away at your budget.

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8. Bring reusable water bottles. Filling up a water bottle is cheaper than buying a Poland Spring at every stop.

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9. Buy fountain drinks over bottled drinks. If you’re craving a Mountain Dew, fountain drinks give you a better bang for your buck over bottled soda.

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Use Yelp: Download Yelp on your phone to see the best restaurant offers in your area.

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11. Take advantage of restaurant deals. Chances are there will be tons of chain restaurants along the way, so use sites like Groupon and GiftCardGranny to get a deal on the road.

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12. Load up on free coffee and breakfast from hotels for the road. Take advantage of a free meal and avoid Starbucks and other expensive coffee shops.

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13. Avoid staying in popular areas. Tourist-driven and metropolitan areas are often paired with inflated prices, so find a place to sleep in surrounding towns.

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14. Check out sites like Airbnb, Tripadvisor, and Kayak to score the best low-cost lodging deals.

Photo credit: Getty

15. Rent a car. If you don’t own your own vehicle, renting a car beforehand for as cheap as $22 a day on sites like ExpediaHotwire, and Travelocity can be a great deal.

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16. Alert your bank. Sometimes banks will deem charges in new cities as fraudulent and cancel your cards.

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17. Stick to budget-friendly activities. Some ideas include hiking national parks, visiting beaches and checking out a town’s culture by walking the streets and venturing into a street fair.

Photo credit: Getty

18. Take advantage of student discounts. If you’re currently a student, bring your student ID for maximum discounts.

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19. Download road trip planning apps. Apps like Roadtrippers are a great way to help plan and finance your new excursion.

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