Road trip budget tips

Stef Zisovska
On the road
On the road

Traveling in the United States can be an expensive adventure and you might end up with your credit card taking a bit of a battering. You don’t get much for free these days, but if you’re smart enough and not afraid to leave your home comforts for a while, you can have the time of your life for a reasonable cost.

There are many ways to travel cheap yet enjoy yourself, such as spending a night round a campfire with friends rather than, say, being alone in a hotel room. So, do not despair, there’s hope for everyone out there regardless of your budget.

No car – no problem! 

If you’re not a car owner it doesn’t mean you can’t see the world. First, ask a friend with a car if they’re interested in your road trip plan and travel in a group. Sharing expenses is always a good idea while traveling. If you don’t have a friend with a car, then look for a rideshare website and find a travel buddy that needs company on a long trip. Maybe you don’t want to rideshare with strangers. There’s a solution for that too. Try cheap car rentals if you have a major credit card because the credit card company will generally cover a percentage of your insurance. You can save up to $15 per day sometimes.

Still not satisfied? Okay, another option is to rent a car from people instead of from a car company. A number of webites work with private car owners who rent their vehicles to other people for an affordable price. You might like this option best because the cars offered vary so you could get anything from a Mini Cooper to a BMW.

A stylish road trip
A stylish road trip

What a lot of people do is buy a cheap car and then sell it at a higher price. If you’re good at negotiating, this deal can be perfect for you. Well, buying an old car may cause you some trouble on the road, but if you find a good deal and repair it, after the road trip you can make some extra cash on it.


Camping across the US in campsites is a cool thing because most of them have showers, fire pits, barbecue grill, restrooms, wifi, and are relatively cheap depending on the time of the year and the location. Camping for free surrounded by amazing landscapes is an option in National Forests. If you do opt to pitch up outside of a designated campground, be sure to check the local rules and avoid excluded areas or private land. Camping is the best form of accommodation for people who don’t like to spend too much cash and at the same time want to enjoy a night in some unknown wilderness. So, if the weather is warm, you know what to do. If it’s cold or you don’t like tents, then rent a room in a cheap hostel or a motel or try couchsurfing. There are people all over the country that will let you crash on their couch or in a spare room – be sure to go through a reputable organization for safety.


A tasty meal you can make at a campsite. A bag of pasta and a few veggies. Healthy and cheap.
A tasty meal you can make at a campsite. A bag of pasta and a few veggies. Healthy and cheap.

Pack your food and bring a cooler. This way you won’t spend money on restaurants, and you’ll likely eat healthier. If your road trip leads to a city, you have big chances to find restaurants that give free food at happy hour. This cool thing happens in every American city, and you can check it on

Free activities

Relax and enjoy exploring the natural world
Relax and enjoy exploring the natural world

If you want to have fun for free or little cash outlay, then don’t go to any theme park. Instead, go for a hike, birdwatching, whale watching, a beach volleyball or a picnic, depending on your destination. Don’t let the lack of money spoil your summer and see what you can do with good planning and organization. Good luck!

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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it. Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the Outdoors.


stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival