What is The Actual Cost Of Road Trips?

people in a car on a road trip

Road trips can be a fun and economical way to see the country and take a vacation, but it's important to plan ahead and budget properly to ensure you have a smooth and stress-free trip. There are many costs to consider when planning a road trip, including fuel, food, entertainment, lodging, and repairs to your vehicle. In addition, there are also unexpected expenses that can arise, such as medical emergencies or vehicle breakdowns. Planning ahead and budgeting carefully can help you avoid overspending and ensure that you have an enjoyable and affordable trip.

In this article, we will explore the different costs associated with road trips and provide tips on how to budget and save money along the way. We will cover topics such as budgeting for fuel, food, entertainment, and lodging, as well as how to prepare for the unexpected. Whether you're planning a short trip or a cross-country adventure, these tips will help you stay on budget and enjoy your road trip to the fullest.

A road trip can cost anywhere from $100 to over $10,000. The cost will all depend on the amount of people going on the trip and how far you will be going. Below is a table showing some of the costs that will arise on a road trip.

Item Cost Ease of Acquiring Necessity
Gas cost for 500 miles traveled $100-$300 Easy Necessary
Food cost $100-$200 Easy Necessary
Entertainment cost $50-$100 Easy Optional
Lodging $50-$200 Easy Necessary
Parking fees $10-$50 Easy Necessary
Souvenirs $20-$100 Easy Optional
Road tolls $10-$200 Easy Necessary
Emergency supplies $20-$50 Easy Necessary
Extra car maintenance $50-$100 Moderate Optional
Car rental $50-$2000 Easy Optional

Ways To Keep Your Cash Safe While Traveling

Keep your cash safe while traveling by carrying it in a money belt or a neck wallet that can be worn under your clothes. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and consider using a debit or credit card for most purchases instead. If you do need to carry cash, make sure to keep it in a secure place, such as a hotel safe or locked luggage.

Things To Plan For Now So You Don't Overspend On Your Holiday Travels

Plan ahead for your holiday travels by setting a budget and sticking to it. Consider the costs of flights, accommodation, meals, activities, and transportation, and try to find deals or discounts where possible.

How To Save On Food

Save on food while traveling by packing your own snacks and meals, especially if you're going to be on the road for a long time. Look for affordable dining options, such as street food or local markets, and consider cooking your own meals if you have access to a kitchen.

How To Save Money On Your Road Trip

Save money on your road trip by choosing an affordable mode of transportation, such as a car or a campervan, and by planning your route to minimize costs. Consider splitting the cost of gas and other expenses with travel companions.

How To Save On Accommodation

Save on accommodation by staying in a hostel or Airbnb, or by camping if you're comfortable with it. Consider off-peak travel times, when prices are generally lower, and look for deals or discounts.

How To Save On Transportation

Save on transportation costs by using public transportation whenever possible, such as buses, trains, or subways. Look for discounts, such as student or senior fares, and consider purchasing a multi-day pass if you'll be using the same mode of transportation frequently. If you're driving, try to carpool with others to split the cost of gas.

Other Accommodation Options for Your Next Road Trip

When planning a road trip, one of the biggest expenses can be accommodation. While traditional options like hotels and motels are convenient, they can be costly, especially if you're planning to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Fortunately, there are other options to consider that can help you save money on your trip.


Boondocking, also known as dry camping or dispersed camping, is the practice of camping in a remote, undeveloped area without access to electricity, water, or other amenities. This option is typically free, although some areas may require a permit or donation. Boondocking can be a great option for travelers who want to save money and enjoy a more rustic, off-the-grid experience.


  • Boondocking is usually free, which can save you a lot of money on your trip.
  • You'll have more privacy and solitude, since you'll be camping in a remote area.
  • You'll have the opportunity to experience the beauty and solitude of nature.


  • You won't have access to basic amenities like electricity, water, or restrooms.
  • You'll need to be self-sufficient and bring all of your own supplies, including food, water, and portable restrooms.
  • You'll need to be prepared for rough, primitive conditions and be able to take care of any problems that arise on your own.


Campgrounds are a popular option for travelers who want to enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of boondocking. These facilities offer a range of amenities, including campsites, restrooms, showers, and sometimes even pools and playgrounds. Prices vary widely depending on the location and amenities offered, but you can typically find campsites for $20-$50 per night.


  • Campgrounds offer a range of amenities that can make your trip more convenient, such as restrooms, showers, and pools.
  • You'll have access to electricity and water, which can be especially useful if you have a campervan or RV.
  • You'll have the opportunity to meet other travelers and make new friends.


  • Campgrounds can be expensive, especially if you're staying in a more popular or touristy area.
  • You may not have as much privacy as you would in a more remote location.
  • You may need to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

Gas Cost on a Road Trip

Gas is a major expense on any road trip, especially if you're driving a large vehicle or covering a long distance. Here are some tips for minimizing your gas costs:

  • Plan your route carefully to minimize the distance you need to travel. Consider taking side roads or back roads, which may be less crowded and more scenic.
  • Avoid rush hour traffic, which can slow you down and increase your gas consumption.
  • Use a fuel-efficient vehicle or consider renting a fuel-efficient car for your trip.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and your engine well-maintained, which can help you save fuel.
  • Shop around for the best gas prices, and fill up in less expensive areas if possible.

Budget for fuel

Fuel costs can be a significant expense on a road trip, so it's important to plan ahead. One way to save on fuel is to plan your route carefully and avoid detours or unnecessary side trips. You can also try to find the cheapest gas along your route using a gas price app or website.

Budget for food

Food can also be a significant expense on a road trip, especially if you're eating out at restaurants. To save money, consider packing a cooler with sandwiches, fruits, and other non-perishable items that you can eat while on the road. You can also save money by eating at fast food restaurants or by purchasing groceries at supermarkets instead of eating out at sit-down restaurants.

Budget for entertainment

Road trips can get boring if you don't have anything to do, so it's important to budget for entertainment. Consider bringing books, movies, music, or other forms of entertainment to pass the time. You can also plan activities along your route, such as visiting national parks or other attractions.

Budget for repairs on your vehicle

Breakdowns and other vehicle issues can be a major inconvenience and cost on a road trip. To avoid unexpected expenses, be sure to have your vehicle thoroughly inspected before you leave and pack a roadside emergency kit in case of any issues.

Budget for lodging or hotel

If you're planning to stay in a hotel or other type of lodging along your route, be sure to budget for those costs. To save money, consider staying in budget hotels or camping instead of more expensive options.

Budget for shopping

It's easy to overspend while on a road trip, especially if you're visiting new places and want to bring souvenirs back home. To avoid overspending, set a budget for shopping and stick to it.

Budget for parking

Parking fees can add up, especially if you're staying in a city with expensive parking garages. To save money, consider parking in free or inexpensive lots and using public transportation instead of driving everywhere.

Budget for the unexpected

It's always a good idea to have a little extra money set aside for the unexpected expenses that may come up on a road trip. This could include things like unexpected repairs, medical emergencies, or other unforeseen expenses.

Should you rent an RV?

Renting an RV can be a convenient and economical way to take a road trip, especially if you have a large group or plan to stay in one place for an extended period of time. However, it's important to budget for the cost of renting an RV, as well as the additional expenses such as fuel, campground fees, and maintenance.

Overall, the key to budgeting for a road trip is to plan ahead and be mindful of your spending. By following these tips and being careful with your money, you can have an enjoyable and affordable road trip.


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In conclusion, road trips can be a fun and economical way to see the country and take a vacation. By planning ahead and budgeting carefully, you can avoid overspending and ensure that you have an enjoyable and affordable trip. Consider factors such as fuel, food, entertainment, lodging, and repairs to your vehicle when budgeting, and be prepared for the unexpected. By following these tips, you can have a smooth and stress-free road trip that won't break the bank.

About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of CamperRules.com, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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