As millions of Americans prepare to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, some extra savings could make the trip even sweeter. As you fill up your tank with fuel and grab your map (yes, you should still have a map), you’re going to want to make your trip as cost-effective as possible.
AAA says more than 42 million Americans will kick off the summer travel season by getting away for Memorial Day. The projection constitutes a 5% increase over last year and the most in a dozen years.
Before you go to the ATM and drain your bank account for travel expenses, there are several ways to trim your budget.
If you plan on hitting the road for the holiday, here are some tips on saving money along the way:
- Rent a vehicle: You may be tempted to drive your vehicle on the long journey, but money expert Clark Howard says you’ll end up saving more money in the long haul if you rent a car. “If you shop and find a good deal on a rental car, you put those trip miles and the depreciation that goes with it on that rental car instead of your own,” he says.
- Pack a lunch: If you’re going for the long haul on a one-day trip (no more than 10 hours on the road, OK?) it’s a good idea to pack a few snacks. Nothing too complicated and messy (no barbecue ribs and no ginormous tacos that spill into your lap), so as not to distract your driving. This will not only save you and your family some pretty nice cash, it will also save you time.
- Download some restaurant apps: If you choose not to pack your own food, you likely will opt to pull over and grab a burger or something similar from a fast-food chain. There’s nothing wrong with that – but why not save money doing it? The BK mobile app has several coupons, including a buy-one-Whopper-get-one-free deal. The McDonald’s app has weekly deals, including a free McCafe with purchase.
- Bring a cooler: Nothing wastes time more than having to pull off the interstate and venture into some strange little town for a $2.99 Dasani. Bringing chilled water is a great idea, especially if there happens to be a traffic jam and you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere for an hour.
- Skip lodging: If your trip is not too long, generally about 500 miles or eight hours, you can save a bunch of money by not having to secure lodging. No way do we recommend driving more than eight hours safely. Better yet, got family along the way? Pay an overnight visit and catch up.
- Don’t speed: The #1 way to save money on a road trip is to obey the traffic laws. Nothing stinks more than being pulled over and hearing those eight frightening words: “Do you know how fast you were going?” Trust us: The money you save on that ticket could be the difference between the cost of driving vs. flying.
AAA Senior Vice President Bill Sutherland says although gasoline prices are rising, it will do little to sway driver behavior this holiday.
“The highest gas prices since 2014 won’t keep travelers home this Memorial Day weekend,” Sutherland was quoted as saying. “A strong economy and growing consumer confidence are giving Americans all the motivation they need to kick off what we expect to be a busy summer travel season with a Memorial Day getaway.”
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