More often than not, planning a road trip [link to other roadtrip story] leaves you wondering how you’re going to properly plan your purchases.

Where to stay, what to eat, how to budget — every card is in play.

Making the most of your trip is critical, and these budget-friendly tips will help you enjoy your trip without costing you an arm and a leg.

1. Pack with intention

You didn’t think about factoring that purchase into your trip, did you? Road trips come with all sorts of unplanned adventures and purchases, but being prepared can help you save big.

Instead of only packing the bare minimum and assuming you can pick up whatever you need along the way, take a step back and grab an extra bag. Did you think about the sunscreen? The beach towels? All those types of items seem like small purchases, but they can add up big time.

Pack your own snacks, too. Stopping at every gas station and purchasing a bag of chips adds up. Invest in a few family-sized bags from the grocery store, instead.

2. Get good gas mileage

Getting good gas mileage is key to maximizing your trip and budget. While it may seem as if the tank simply goes from full to empty in a heartbeat, there are ways you can catch a few breaks.

Packing lightly, following the speed limit and ensuring your tires are in good shape with good pressure are just a few ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your miles.

Track your route and be sure to use a map so you don’t get lost and waste gas trying to find your way back. If possible, consider driving a fuel-efficient vehicle, especially if you’re embarking on a lengthy trip.

3. Plan your route

Speaking of planning your route, it’s best to come up with a plan beforehand instead of winging it as you go along. Avoid taking any long routes that aren’t worth it and will only drain your gas tank and wallet. Though sometimes the scenic route is worth it, use your best judgment and plan accordingly.

While you shouldn’t necessarily skimp on the scenery, you should avoid toll roads. Sometimes that’s not possible, but it’s worth a look.

4. Consider free stops

How much debt are you going to rack up as you visit countless theme parks or costly events? If these things are on your bucket list, by all means, don’t be afraid to spoil yourself on the trip. But if you could do without seeing a band you heard once, you probably should.

Many activities and places are free and provide just as much fun. From beaches to festivals to outdoor music, you can reap the benefits of each city and stop without breaking the bank.

Do your research, and you might be surprised to find some of your favorite stops of the whole trip.

5. Research your lodging

Chances are if you’re road-tripping, lodging expenses are going to put the biggest dent in your budget.

Instead of choosing hotels every night, opt for cheaper options, such as camping. Look up some of those long-lost relatives or friends. They’ll likely have a couch you can crash on, and you might even get a free breakfast and valuable time to catch up.

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