Whether you’re traveling from New York to San Francisco or from Denver to Atlanta, there’s a lot of effort in preparing for a road trip. This article can help you create a fun, cost-effective trip.
1. Bring a Cooler
Buying a cooler and an occasional bag of ice can drastically cut your budget. Stop at a supermarket every couple of days to stock up on drinks and non-perishable items.
2. Truck Stops Can Save Your Life
While buying food at a truck stop is more expensive than a grocery store, sleeping there is much cheaper than a hotel. In addition, truck stops generally have better security than regular gas stations (or even rest stops). They are always open, have clean bathrooms, and you can purchase a shower. Stay in a parking space for cars. If you park in a space dedicated for tractor-trailer rigs, a tired truck driver asking you to move may rudely awaken you.
TravelCenters of America (TA), Petro, Flying J, Pilot, and Love’s are the top five chains of truck stops and you can find them via apps, billboards, and maps. While TA and Petro are usually slightly more expensive, they often have higher quality restaurants and items. Some truck stops, such as IOWA 80, even have doctors and movie theaters.
3. Purchase a Rand-McNally Road Atlas
While more expensive than a folded paper map, these books are worth every penny. Thoroughly indexed, they can help you calculate mileage, find the nearest rest stop, and give you detailed maps of large cities. They’re also easier to open and close. Buying them at a supermarket is cheaper, but almost all truck stops carry them.
4. Follow the Billboards
While you can buy books detailing every tourist spot in America, it’s unnecessary if you’re traveling on a highway. Any major tourist attraction has billboards guiding you to the correct exit. If you’re in a hurry, plan your time wisely by reading books, such as those provided by AAA, in advance. Otherwise, choose a highway and let the billboards be your guide.
5. Register for Rewards Programs
Almost every business has a rewards program, including hotel chains, gas stations, and travel services. If you’re booking hotels online, register for Ebates, first. Upon arriving at a hotel, ask the concierge about loyalty programs.
Going on a long road trip should be enjoyable and relaxing. Use the five tips above to maximize your experience.