Updated July 16, 2012

The Dos and Don't of Summer Road Trips

Read more about Gas Rewards

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.

(Click Image to Enlarge)
Infographics: The Dos and Don't of Summer Road Trips
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.

More Articles in Money Tips

Gas Credit Cards

Ways to Save Money on Gas

No one likes spending money on gas. Here are 18 simple effective tips to help save money on gas (we bet you've never even thought of #10!)

Blue Cash Preferred Review

If you are looking to get cashback rewards on common household categories like purchases at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Amex created the Preferred card as an upgrade to ...
More Articles in Money Tips

About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.