7 Student Hacks for a Budget-Friendly Road Trip

They always say the best time to travel is while you’re still a student. Most students are unmarried, they don’t have children, and they don’t have mortgages. The only problem with students travelling is that most of them are working with really tight budgets. While you’re prioritizing your education, you probably don’t have tons of money to throw at a road trip. If you think frugally, you’d be surprised how far you can drive and how much you can see.

1. Be Smart About Where You Sleep

Hotels can be extraordinarily expensive for what little they offer. Rooms cost a lot of money, and anything above and beyond that costs even more money. Rather than opting for short stays when you stop to explore an area, look for a short term room share with the locals. Paying to stay with someone who has extra space will likely cost less money, and you’ll probably also score a place to wash your clothes.

2. Go Grocery Shopping

Think about how you save money on food while you’re at school. You probably grocery shop for staples and make a lot of quick meals. Do that while you’re on the road. Load up a cooler with some ice, and carry the same groceries that fit into your budget while you’re not travelling. It’s fun to stop for something hot to eat once in a while, but you’ll save a lot of money by not depending on restaurants for every meal.

3. Be Wise About Empty Spending

Think about things you’ll probably spend money on that don’t really get you anything. Cheap tourist souvenirs and parking are easy ways to waste money. Opt out of plastic souvenirs or location-based shirts. Instead, purchase something you’ll actually use from a local crafter. Instead of paying an obscene amount of money to park and explore a big city, use a community sharing site like Parkhound to park cheaply at someone’s house. Spend your money meaningfully.

4. There’s Free Stuff Everywhere

Botanical gardens, museums, historic tours, and public parks are often free. Some aren’t free, but they run on a “donate what you can afford” model. Look for more of these attractions. They’re a great way to experience the essence of a place without spending a fortune. You’ll have fun, learn a little, and have money to keep your car fueled up.

5. Let Apps Guide Your Decisions

There’s an app for everything related to a road trip. Apps to help you find the best places to get gasoline, to find the cleanest public bathrooms, and to eat a decent breakfast for cheap will help you live on the road for a little longer. If you frequently opt for budget friendly choices that you find on your apps, you’re less likely to exhaust your funds prematurely.

6. Camp Out Under The Stars

When you just can’t sleep in the car anymore and you don’t want to spend money on a room for the night, it’s time to break out the tent. Carry a tent with you, and take advantage of great weather and beautiful scenery to have a campout. It’s a great way to get over the stir-crazy, confined feeling you might have from staying in the car for too long, and many designated campsites are free or cheap to use. Just make sure to clean up after yourself.

7. Use Your Student Discount

Students get discounts at a lot of places. Local economies often utilize student ID cards as proof of eligibility for a discount. They know most students are trying to save money, so they don’t charge the full admission or sale price. Bring your student ID with you wherever you go. It never hurts to ask if the places you visit offer or honor such a discount.

Even if you can only afford one road trip a year on your student budget, it’s possible to make it count. If you save up enough and make frugal choices, you might be able to hit the road for twice the amount of time you initially expected.

Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living.


 

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