Taking a road trip does not have to drive you to the poor house

Taking a road trip does not have to drive you to the poor house
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner

My husband and I recently returned from one of our road trips. We spent a lot of time planning it so there weren’t any surprises (although good planning cannot eliminate those). We didn’t spend too much money. Here’s how we did it.

We spent no money on hotels.

Because we travel a lot on business, we had tons of hotel reward points. We’ve found the programs that work best for us are IHG Rewards and Choice Privileges. We pick hotels that do not cost too many points but also offer a free breakfast so we get more “bang” for our hotel points.

I know not everyone travels as much as we do. So keep the following in mind whenever you do happen to travel to build up hotel reward points:

  • Plan ahead and book your hotel online.
  • Try to stay at the same chain all the time.
  • Enroll in their reward program.
  • If we do not have a lot of reward points in the bank, we tend to pay for hotels during peak travel times when hotels generally charge the most reward points. But it is also the time when the reward programs tend to hold special promotions. It allows us to build points faster.
Madeira Beach Sunset

Sunset at Madeira Beach, FL

We got a lot of free dinners.

We use our Discover card to purchase everything. With our cashback bonus, we get restaurant gift cards.

  • After getting breakfast free at the hotel and using a gift card with coupon for dinner, we only had to worry about lunches.
  • On this road trip we were driving to Florida so the weather was nice enough to have a few picnics. No tipping required!

We spent a lot less on gas than in the past.

The most we paid for gas on our route was $2.29/gal. The lowest was $1.86/gal. We drove 4,020 miles in a very fuel efficient 2014 Chevy Cruze that averaged 36 mpg. That comes to about $230 for gas. Not bad!

Being just the two of us (the financial gypsy and the truck driver), it’s a lot easier for us to save money. It can be expensive for families to travel. I come from a family of seven so I do have my own horror stories about travelling. They make me appreciate the joy that comes from travelling on my own terms.