How to save money on road trips

(Photo: Phillip Capper | Flickr)(Photo: Phillip Capper | Flickr)

Planning a road trip this summer? Hopping in the car and heading across the country can be a fun way to see the sights. But road travel isn't always as inexpensive as it might seem. You avoid the high cost of airfare, but your savings easily can disappear on other costs. There are several ways, though, to keep spending under control when you're on the road. Here's how to save money on gas, food, lodging and entertainment.

Gas. With gas prices averaging about $3.60 per gallon, this expense will quickly eat into your road trip budget. There are plenty of ways to keep gas costs under control, though. For starters, you can use a free gas app such as GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas prices near you. Then use a rewards credit card that will let you earn cash back on gas purchases (see our picks for the best gas rewards cards. You also can save money by buying discounted gift cards for gas stations at sites such as Cardpool, CardCash and Gift Card Granny. These cards tend to go quickly, so sign up for e-mail alerts to be notified when they're in stock. Also look for discounted gift cards for Walmart or grocery stores that have gas stations.

Food. The best way to save money on food is to pack sandwiches, snacks and drinks in a cooler and to stop at grocery stores along the way to refill your supply. To make it fun for kids, you can buy a few trinkets at the dollar store and put them in bags along with their food to replicate kids meals from fast food restaurants. For meals out, check Groupon and other daily deal sites for restaurants offering discounts in the cities you're visiting. You also can get discounted restaurant gift certificates for local restaurants from and discounted gift cards for chain restaurants at the gift card sites listed above.

Lodging. If you don't mind roughing it, you can save a lot by camping rather than staying at a hotel. can help you find campsites managed by federal agencies. If you're traveling solo, you might even be able to score free accommodations through the Couchsurfing site or app. which connects members with people willing to spare a couch for the night for free. Otherwise, you can use the Priceline Negotiator app to bid on hotel rooms and secure discounted lodging. The benefit of the app is that it lets you see winning bids for accommodations near you and offers "Tonight-Only Deals" (iPhone, Android). Also see How to Get the Best Deal on a Hotel for strategies you can use to snag a low price.

Entertainment. Plenty of cities have free offerings. The AAA TripTik Travel Planner and AAA Mobile App let you enter a location and get a list of attractions, events and entertainment in the area and details (including cost) for each of the offerings. The free Yelp app also can help you find public parks, museums and other attractions. Cities' tourism sites can be a great source of information about free offerings. And daily deal sites can help you land discounts on activities and entertainment.

Follow Yahoo! Autos

More Articles

  • Takata adds millions to recall expansion in US

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is starting to announce the expanded Takata airbag inflator recalls. FCA has over 5 million vehicles affected worldwide, and BMW has over 420,000 in the US. Honda's expansion includes 350,000 more Civics and Accords.Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration …

  • RDB LA Unveils Its Striped Rolls-Royce Ghost for Gold Rush Rally

    Where there is gold, there is royalty, and where there is royalty, there is usually a Rolls-Royce somewhere close by. Starting June 5, a week-long trail of gold dust will be sprinkled all over the country, and RDB LA’s somewhat tiger-striped Ghost will be one of numerous luxury and supercars eating up the crumbs. The seventh …

  • Online Find Ebay Edition – 1977 Ducati Sport Desmo 500

    I have always had a love of novelty and hard to find stuff, from the comedy records Doctor Demento used to play to the hard to find extra crunchy version of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. This week's online find, a 1970s Ducati , is like that—no better than

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stephen Colbert Entertain Seinfeld in ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ Season 6

    Believe it or not, Jerry Seinfeld’s Internet car show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee already has 36 episodes through five seasons in the books. He’s already had a huge variety of guests, both automotive and comedic, and season six looks like it’s going to be just as good as ever. If there are any Seinfeld

  • Volvo XC60 safety demonstration goes awry

    A Volvo salesperson recently attempted to demonstrate the XC60 City Safety system to a group of prospective car buyers. What the dealer didn't understand was the safety system, which helps avoid or mitigate collisions, doesn't detect pedestrians.When it comes to automotive safety technology, Volvo has long been …