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The Frugal Student: Tips for a Low-Cost Road Trip

Most students can’t afford to fly off to Europe after their semester is over. It’s much more likely that they will head out on the open road for a little vacation with their friends. Saving money on your student road trip will be a lot easier by using some of the following tips.

Hit up the grocery store

Avoid the fast food restaurants and gas station cuisine. Try to stop at as many grocery stores as you can find along your route. You might also want to bring along a cooler so that you can store food in it. Planning meals as a group, such as having cold cuts one day and PB&J sandwiches the next will help to dramatically reduce money spent on food. If you have enough space then even pack a small camping stove so that you can have tasty warm meals whenever you like. If you need a meal cooked by someone else then look for early bird deals and get off the main route for better prices.

Find a free place to stay

Bring that old tent you have kicking around the closet and look for campsites along your route. You can often get a nice site for as little as $20/night. A campfire with friends is often a great alternative to an expensive hotel room. If you’re driving through major cities then look to websites like, which connect travellers with local residents offering their couch for the night. You might have to return the favor at some point in the future but it could be a great way of meeting new people and seeing new cities. Thee are couch surfers all over the world so you don’t have to stay in North America either.

Using Less Gass

Start by choosing your vehicle wisely. Obviously you will need a certain size of vehicle, but if the choice comes down to your friend’s or yours, opt for the newer vehicle, it will offer better fuel efficiency throughout your trip. Next, take the vehicle into the mechanic and get an oil change and check for any other problems before you start your trip. Remember to check your tire pressure as well! Not only will this improve your fuel efficiency, but car troubles on the road are a costly affair.On the road, use common sense to save gas. Driving at a constant speed is much more fuel efficient than stop-and-go, and most vehicles are most fuel-efficient at about 80 km/h. Use tools like the Gas Buddy app for the iPhone to find the lowest prices on gas, you can search all across North America with this tool and website.

Avoid Traffic

Another way to save money on gas and to increase the enjoyment of your trip is to avoid traffic. A lot of students go on road trips during long weekends and other national holidays. Traffic can be very high at times like this so it might be best to leave a day early and/or come back a day late. Miss the traffic and save some money. If someone has a smartphone with GPS, you can check traffic on major routes using Google Maps. Those are just a few ways that you can save on your next road trip. The key is to do a bit of prep work before you head out on your trip and figure out where you might want to stay and what you want to do. It’s that simple.

This is a guest post by Gary Kohler from the life insurance website