How to Save Money on Road Trips


Taking a vacation or spending time on the road means you have to spend money. There’s gas for the vehicles, food for the family and lodging to pay for. But even though you have to spend money, there are ways to spend smart! Whether you are at the gas station, motel or grabbing food at a local restaurant, here are some ideas to help you save money on road trips.

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How to Save Money on Road Trips

Save at the Pump:

Gas is a necessary expense when you take a road trip but if you are a bit picky where you stop then you can save some money. It’s always great to look for the cheapest gas, but it sometimes makes more sense, in the long run, to be loyal to a particular chain when possible. Sign up for a loyalty card and earn points and get discounts with each fill-up.

Upside Gas App

Another way we are saving money at the gas pump is using an app called Upside.

  • Download the app.
  • Search the area where you are traveling.
  • When you find an offer for a gas station on your route, click ‘claim offer’.
  • Once you ‘claim the offer’, you will be reminded to ‘check in’.
  • As soon as you arrive at the selected gas station, click ‘check in’.
  • You typically have 20 minutes to enter your credit card info and purchase your gas.
    • You will only enter the first and last digits so Upside can verify your purchase.
    • Once you enter your credit card the first time, you will not have to add it for additional purchases.
  • Typically within 2-3 days, you will get an email or text notifying you that your rebate has been accepted and your money will be added to your account in the app.
  • You can cash out directly to your bank or request a gift card for many different retailers like Cabelas, Target, Walmart, or Papa John.

I have been using the Upside app for a couple of weeks and currently have $11.12 in my cashout app. I’ll take that for bonus money on gas, don’t you think?

Save on Lodging:

Most people have preferences for where they like to stay. So pick your favorite chain and then become a loyal customer. Sign up for their free rewards programs and earn points toward future free stays.

Real Life Tip: It doesn’t hurt to sign up for multiple hotel rewards clubs. That way, if you find yourself in an area with a different rewards program, you can still be earning points!

Save on Snacks & Entertainment:

A great way to save on snacks is to stock up at your local grocery before you leave town. You can buy a case of waters or sodas when they go on sale the weeks leading up to your trip and not have to pay full price at gas stations or attractions. It’s much cheaper to pay $3.00 for a case of drinks instead of paying $2.00 at each stop for one soda.

Cash-out your change:

We have a piggy bank where we save all the loose change that we find in our car, home or in the bottom of my purse. Before we leave for vacation, we cash out the change and have spending money for the trip. On one vacation, we cashed it out and split it 5 ways so everyone had some bonus souvenir money.

Decide on souvenirs before you leave:

Most kids love to collect souvenirs from the places they visit and these souvenirs cost quite a bit of money. If you have young children and plan ahead, you can save money by buying souvenirs before you go! Pick up a stuffed panda bear at home and then have it waiting on their pillow on the day they go visit the zoo. Heading to Disney? Buy princess or character toys to surprise the kids at the hotel instead of paying big bucks at the souvenir shop.

Collect ecoins for inexpensive souvenirs

Real Life Tip: Another cheap souvenir idea is to help your kids start a pressed penny collection. You simply pay .51 for each pressed penny and collect them at every location.

What are your tips for saving money on road trips? I’d love to hear!

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