Summer road trips can go from fun-in-the-sun to major burn quite fast if you aren’t smart with your traveling expenses. Hidden fees and expenses are waiting to bite you around each curve. But you can avoid the sting by doing your research and bringing money saving tools along for the ride.
Stick to these tips to keep your wallet and family happy on this summer’s travels.
|Infographics: The Dos and Don't of Summer Road Trips © CreditDonkey|
- Take advantage of SmartPhone technology. With the popularity of SmartPhones, there are a wide variety of money-saving apps available in the market place. From helping you find the best gas prices to the best prices on merchandise, if you load up your phone (or ask your kids to load it up for you), you will be able to take advantages of the best prices available at each stop along the way.
- Research your rewards credit card. Check your rewards program before you hit the road. You may have points accrued that you can use toward your hotels or that you can redeem for gas or restaurant gift cards. These expenses add up fast and utilizing your free rewards points can really lower your expenses!
- Travel during “shoulder season”. Shoulder season is the time immediately before and after the peak travel periods (like 4th of July and Labor Day). Prices for hotels, amusement parks, other attractions and even local restaurants will be lower than if you travel during the more popular weeks and weekends. Not to mention the horrible traffic, parking (or lack-there-of) and lines you have to compete with on peak dates.
- Pay for everything in cash. There are two reasons you may want to avoid bringing cash on your trip. First, if it is lost or stolen, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get it back. Second, why not use your rewards credit card to earn additional points? Every time you use your card, it is like you are paying yourself. Plus, it will help you accrue points for next summer’s big trip.
- Leave home without food. As we’ve mentioned before, bringing snacks and drinks will keep the kids’ complaints to a minimum. It will also save your wallet a wad of money. Especially if you are stopping in areas with minimal shopping options. Gas stations in the middle of nowhere have very little competition when it comes to food, so they are able to mark up the prices of snacks in their convenience shops, making the price less-than-convenient for your travel budget.
- Forget to check your credit card benefits. Many cards provide account holders a wide array of fringe benefits, including the rental car insurance that we have already highlighted. Often, they also feature hotel burglary protection, providing you the ability to replace your stolen items should the unfortunate happen. Take some time to review your benefits before you pack for your road trip. And give yourself time to shop for a new card if you determine your benefits aren’t providing your family the travel benefits it needs.
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Meghan C is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped families make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)