In these days of extremely high gas prices around the world, are there ways of saving money while taking road trips? I think there are ways although it is getting more and more difficult.
When we travel by car in the US, there are several steps that we take both to money. First, we try to stay in Hampton Inns, wherever we go. Besides accruing Hilton Honors points, which we can use for both hotel stays and airline miles, they are reasonable in price, clean and consistent. But the most important reason is that they provide a substantial breakfast each morning. This eliminates the need to find a breakfast place and saves the time of going elsewhere, sometimes waiting in line, etc. We can even grab a piece of fruit on the way out for a snack, later in the day.
Second, we always bring a cooler. If we are leaving from home in our own car, we bring a large, rigid cooler and pack is with drinks, snack foods, and picnic items for the road. Each evening, we fill the cooler with ice, then again in the morning, and we maintain this storehouse for the entire trip. If we are flying somewhere and renting a car, we bring a collapsible cooler in our suitcase (these have become much better recently).
From time to time, we will stop at a deli or supermarket to pick up more cold cuts, fruit, and other lunch items. This not only saves the expense of eating in restaurants, but also reduces the boredom which often sets in when every meal is in a restaurant. Picnics provide both variety and fun to the trip. It’s cool to eat outdoors in the wilderness of a national park, for instance. Kids, especially, love picnics because they are outside and can run around while things are being prepared. Incidentally, we always bring a paring knife and a few utensils whenever we travel.
Other money-saving suggestions include looking for coupons or discounts for the attractions in each area. AAA offers discounts at many sights, and you may qualify for discounts in several ways. Seniors should always inquire about senior-discounts; those in the military should ask for government or military discounts, etc. Sometimes, coupons can be found on the internet or in literature about an area. Even inquire about discounts at Tourist Information Offices.
Another idea is to look for early-bird specials at restaurants. Some places offer free or reduced appetizers at certain times, others may have 2 for 1 specials, etc.
In Europe, almost all hotels provide a breakfast (some are substantial, while others are rather spartan). Once again, a collapsible cooler is an excellent suggestion, although ice is not as plentiful or available here. Outdoor markets are a very good place to look for lunch items or fruit.
Basically, be observant and constantly look for opportunities to save money. It makes your travels more affordable and reduces the effects of rising prices or poor exchange rates.