7 Tips for Road Trip Savings That Will Change Your Travel Life

The Project: Time Off team hit the road for a Pacific Northwest adventure, and did it on a budget. In all the planning, we learned a few tips for making road trips memorable and affordable. Our seven favorite cost-savvy travel tips are below.

1. If you have an American Express® Card, look into Amex Offers for savings you might not be thinking about. I was one of those who had an American Express Card, but didn’t get the most of it—I’ve learned more and wish I had taken advantage of the benefits sooner. There really are a host of travel, shopping, and dining deals available to American Express® Card Members. Even better, on a road trip, the Amex® Mobile app (Message and data rates apply) makes sure those offers are at my fingertips so I don’t miss out on a deal when I’m on the move.

2. Rewards programs are worth a look, because nothing beats free. Our team stayed in Best Westerns throughout the trip and the points have put us that much closer to planning our next vacations. I enrolled in the rewards program and learned that the points never expire (never!) and can be put toward not just free room nights (with no blackout dates), but airline points, gift cards for shopping and entertainment, charitable causes, and even sunglasses or electronics for your next road trip. If you’re debating whether or not you want to enroll in a rewards program, no matter which one you are interested in, they can be a great way to get the most bang for your travel buck.

3. For shoestring budgets, it’s tough to beat National Parks. Entry fees often cost less than your lunch and beyond the gates, you will see some of the most amazing sights America has to offer. I’m a big fan of the #FindYourPark campaign for the National Park’s Centennial. We hit Olympic National Park on our trip. Add in a pair of new hiking boots, and you’ve got an amazing trip ready-made, courtesy of Mother Nature.

4. Not outdoorsy? Urban adventurers can pack a lot in a day for a little with bundled tickets. Products like CityPass offer great discounts on area attractions that would cost you a lot more to buy individually. We saved a bundle on tickets in Seattle.

5. One of the best tools for saving on a road trip is your car’s trunk. Check out a big box store to stock up on bottled water, snacks, and other items. It will spare you from spending $3 on a fountain soda or an individual bag of gas station pretzels once you are on the road. Not to mention, things that are sitting around your house, like sunscreen that can cost a lot more at your SPF-required destination, can be tossed in the car and don’t have to abide by the 3 oz. rule.

6. Plan ahead…far ahead. This one is the toughest for most people, who tend to make plans a month or two in advance. But if you can manage, long lead times help you shop for the best deals with the most stock available. Even better, putting that vacation on the office calendar far in advance safeguards the time and gives you plenty of time to work as far in advance as possible and coordinate with coworkers to make sure your responsibilities are covered.

7. Prefer to be spontaneous? Daily deals are everywhere. Leave your schedule to the LivingSocial or Groupon gods and snag whatever sounds interesting. Just be sure to read before you buy. You don’t want to purchase tickets for an attraction that you can’t use until next month.

The Project: Time Off team hit the road, with thanks to sponsors American Express and Best Western. We explored the Pacific Northwest to show how easy—and affordable—it can be to turn a vacation or day or two into a memorable experience. See more of our adventures on Twitter and Instagram via @ProjectTimeOff and using the hashtag #TakeADay.

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