How to plan a road trip on a budget

Plan stops along the way to refuel and recharge away from the motorway, as impromptu stops at service stations could end up costing you

Whether it’s a family break, weekend away with friends or day trip with a special someone, road trips are fun and don’t need to break the bank.

Plan the route

While there’s a lot to be said for taking the long (or wrong) way round and enjoying the scenery, the cost of fuel by taking an extended route can be expensive.

Planning your journey beforehand and taking the shortest distance can help you cut the number of miles and reduce the amount you’re spending at the petrol station.

Refuel before you set off

Motorway service stations charge more to fill your tank, so if you’re heading out on a long distance cruise try and fill up at a local supermarket beforehand.

It’s also useful to venture off the motorway to refuel if you need to, as it’s likely to save you quite a bit, just by going a couple of minutes off-route.

Pack refreshments

Stopping on the way to stock up on food, drinks and sweets will hit your pocket hard. Welcome areas are not known for being cheap and often overcharge for basics.

Make sure you pack a lunch, a cool bag/box with water and drinks and some snacks to graze on during your drive.

Affordable entertainment

A long drive can take it out of you and you may stop on the way to stretch your legs. The temptation to go into the shops or walk around local attractions may prove too much, and can prove costly.

Work out some stops on the way and plan some free sights to check out while you’re there. It’s also fun to pack a Frisbee, ball or even a pack of cards (especially if it’s raining) so you have something to do if you have to make an impromptu stop.

Pack well

Having to buy forgotten essentials while you’re on the road is irritating to say the least. Have a checklist of things you need and mark them off before you go.

These things should always include:

  • A print out of the route – even if you have GPS
  • In-car chargers
  • Breakdown membership card
  • Refreshments

Check your vehicle

Giving your car the once-over before you leave could prevent the need for a call to a breakdown engineer or costly repairs. Some key things to check are:

  • Oil level
  • Tyre pressure
  • Coolant level
  • Lights

A good way to save money is to carry out maintenance to your car yourself. Check out our DIY guide to checking and repairing your car.

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