It’s far too easy to overspend on a vacation. This is especially true for a road trip; there are so many costs to consider!
Creating a road trip budget is important.
It ensures you don’t overspend and makes your trip stress-free. You’ve already accounted for everything!
It also tells you how much money you need to save for your trip!
Fortunately, it’s easy when you know how.
In this step by step guide, I’m going to show you exactly how to create a road trip budget.
What to Include in a Road Trip Budget
Before you can begin budgeting for your road trip, you’ll need to know exactly where you’re going, and how long for. In other words, you’ll need to plan out your road trip.
From this point, you can begin to look at how much things will cost and create your road trip budget.
In your budget you’ll need to include (but not be limited to!) the following:
Major Transportation (eg. Flight to destination)
Rental car (If not using your own car)
Personal car costs (If not renting)
Accommodation (and parking!)
This guide will show you exactly how to find out how much each of these factors will cost you.
Prioritization is Key in a Road Trip Budget
You probably have a good idea of your total budget for the trip. If you want to stay strictly within that, the key is to prioritize.
For example, is staying in a fancy hotel something you’re unwilling to compromise on? Or do you want to take part in certain activities even if that means sleeping in your car?
Once you have calculated the non-negotiable costs (major transportation, rental car/car maintenance, gas, etc.), you can spread the rest of your budget across the other items (accommodation, food, and activities) as you wish.
Let’s do it…
A quick word on figuring out estimated costs abroad.
Budgetyourtrip is an excellent resource that allows you to search by destination and provides estimates and averages for costs during your trip.
Non-Negotiable Costs in a Road Trip Budget
Flights aren’t always necessary. For example, you might be taking a road trip in your home country. If this doesn’t apply to you, feel free to move on to the next section!
If you are flying somewhere to take your road trip, this could be one of your biggest costs. That’s why it’s top of the list. Search for flights around your dates to get an idea of how much they cost.
Skyscanner is our favorite flight search engine, although as you’ll see from the above guide, it’s best to search across multiple sites.
If you’re renting a car for your road trip, you’ll need to factor the costs of this into your budget.
Use a car rental comparison site such as rentalcars.com to get an idea for prices (and the best deal). Generally speaking, it’s cheaper to pick up your vehicle from an office in town rather than at an airport.
Use the tips in this clever guide to ensure you get the best deal:
Your gas costs will depend on how far you plan to drive during your trip and your vehicle’s gas mileage. Fuel is a non-negotiable expense on any road trip, and it’s important you include this in your road trip budget. That way, you’ll know how much money you have left to play with for food, accommodation, and activities.
As you have already planned out your route, you should have a good idea of how far you’ll be driving.
Add on a few more miles when calculating fuel costs to ensure you stay within budget. What if you make an impulse decision to go and visit something cool while you’re on the road?
This is because food costs vary wildly depending on where you’re going, whether you cook for yourself or eat out, and the type of establishments you like to eat at. Most destinations have both budget eateries as well as higher-end restaurants.
For a general estimate of daily food costs, I like to use Budgetyourtrip. You can multiply this by the number of days in your trip for a very estimated budget for food.
For a clearer picture of how much it will cost you to eat during your trip, use Tripadvisor and Yelp. Simply search for restaurants, cafes, etc. in locations along your route. There will be reviews from other customers as well as pictures of menus, which will give you an idea of the price of a meal.
Planning on taking your own food?
Use these helpful articles for inspiration and to ensure you don’t forget anything essential: