#ZebraChat Recap: Budget-Friendly Road Trips

Budget-Friendly Road Trips | ZebraChat Recap

School is wrapping up, temperatures are rising, and Memorial Day Weekend is fast approaching. All signs point to summer! What better to enjoy those summer days (and oh, oh those summer nights – sorry, I couldn’t resist!) than to hit the open road? And hitting the road on a budget? Even better!

In our May edition of #ZebraChat, The Zebra’s monthly Twitter chat, our featured guest GasBuddy and Twitter friends discussed how to plan a budget-friendly road trip.

Why Road Trips Make Great Vacations

Road trips are a feasible option for travelers with any budget. Driving a car packed with food, snacks, tents, and good road trip buddies can offer significant savings with proper planning. There’s no need to worry about airline tickets, checked bag fees, or finding yourself in an overbooked flight. Even for those with a bigger budget, the convenience of having your own vehicle and make stops as you see fit might be reason enough to forgo flying.

Road Trip Itineraries

To create an itinerary or not to create one, that is the question. Picking a destination is typically the first step to planning a road trip, but whether you nail down the nitty gritty is up to you. Some folks prefer to be spontaneous and wait to make any plans until they arrive at their destination. Others (like myself) prefer to scope out reviews, seek recommendations, and at least have an idea of what to see and do. It’s not absolutely necessary to have an hour-by-hour itinerary. However, you should pick attractions and restaurants that you definitely want to hit up when at your destination. That way you spend less time researching and more time vacationing.

Personally, I make my selections pick which days I’d like to go. For example, I might say I want to eat at Joe’s Restaurant and visit the Museum of X on Day 1. Or I’ll group attractions by location. But I try to be flexible and open to last minute changes too, unless something absolutely 100% needs to be done at a certain day and time.

Top Apps, Websites, and Resources for Budget-Friendly Road Trips

Here are some of the favorites mentioned during our Q&A.

Discounts and Deals: Groupon, Hotel Tonight, Travelzoo
Things to Do: All Trails, Along the Way, TripAdvisor, Yelp
Maps: Waze
Gas Prices: GasBuddy
Pit Stop Restroom Reviews: SitOrSquat

How to Reduce Expenses on a Road Trip

Don’t have money to spend on a hotel? Pack a tent, and stay at a campsite.

Don’t want to spend too much on restaurants and fast food? Head up your local warehouse club beforehand and pack meals, snacks, and drinks that’ll last you the duration of your trip.

Travel with friends, and you can split all of the costs associated with the trip. Plus, you’ll get to share the road trip experience together.

Road Trip Essentials

Before you go on your trip, don’t forget to:

  • Get your car checked by a mechanic (get an oil change, A/C check, etc.).
  • Pack an emergency kit.
  • Check your insurance coverage for roadside assistance.
  • Make sure you have phone and GPS chargers.
  • Pack a pair of sunglasses!
  • Let friends and family know of your itinerary.

Other things to consider:

  • Get a cooler that keeps ice for several days.
  • Invest in hands-free devices to keep your eyes on the road.
  • Purchase paper maps, in the event that your phone or GPS battery fails.

Budget-Friendly Road Trip | Big Bend National Park

Missed our #ZebraChat? No worries. Below are some of the highlights.

Q1.) Tell us about your experience! Are you a road trip newbie or veteran?

Q2.) Why are road trips a great option for budget-friendly vacationers?

Q3.) When planning a road trip, which comes first: budget or destination? Why?

Q4.) What websites, apps, resources do you defer to when planning a road trip?

Q5.) Itineraries: yea or nay?

Q6.) What are some easy ways to cut expenses?

Q7.) What are some absolute must-haves to take on a road trip?

Q8.) What are some of common pitfalls or rookie mistakes to avoid?

Q9.) Any other road trip advice you’d like to share?


And that’s a wrap! Thank you to all of our participants and our featured guest GasBuddy!

Join us for #ZebraChat next month. Follow The Zebra on Twitter or subscribe to Quoted to stay in the know.