How to Save Money on a Road Trip

Road tripping is always fun and in countries such as Canada and the United States, cars can be the best way of getting to the most beautiful spots that are inaccessible by public transit or tour buses.  But if you’re not careful on your trip the cost can creep up without you even realising. Having covered Canada from coast to coast (as detailed in my last blog post in A-Z Travels) we’ve picked up a few penny-saving tips that I’d like to share.

Brandywine Falls (16)

Our beautiful dodge caravan

  1. Plan ahead

I know for some people this takes the adventure out of road-tripping, but if you’re on a budget planning can be your best friend (there are a few planning tips here). Knowing where you want to be and when means you can save on accommodation by booking in advance. It also gives you time to look for discounts on attractions, restaurants and any other activities you may want to consider.

Planning with maps and books

  1. Use your points/discount cards

This one works more when you are exploring your own country or are somewhere for an extended period. We picked up a Petro-Canada points card at the start of our journey and have been saving ever since. Eventually we will be able to save 5p per gallon on 200 gallons. It all adds up and every penny counts along the way.


We often forget about discount cards on holiday, but they are worth considering.  For example, I have been able to save using my student discount card. It has enabled me to save money on entrance to many places such as museums, aquariums and even on Megabus trips.  Another example, was my parents in Vancouver, they were able to save on the entrance fee into the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park as they were  AA (Automobile Association) members and happened to have their card with them.

Capilano Suspension Park (37)

We saved on our entry to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

  1. Don’t speed

This one is two- fold. First, as your speed increases your fuel efficiency decreases. Therefore, if you maintain a safe speed can actually save you money on gas. You’ve hoarded all those points along the way, so don’t waste them by speeding! Secondly, you could pick up a speeding fine. How annoying would it be to have to pay just because you wanted to get somewhere a little bit faster? Not only can it be dangerous, but you can end up was hundreds of dollars and have nothing but points on your licence to show for it. Plus, if you go too fast you miss all the beautiful views such as these:

  1. Pack snacks in advance

Food is an important part of road-tripping. I noted in my blog on travelling as a couple that being hangry is a dangerous zone to be in whilst on the road.  Gas station food is always ridiculously priced, so bulk buying drinks and food beforehand saves so much money.  Remember to freeze your ice packs in advance to keep everything cool during the summer.

  1. Tell your bank

Not necessarily a money saving tip in terms of gaining money, but it saves you from being without money altogether.  When unexpected charges pop up on your account the bank can panic and put a block on your card leaving you without any funds. It happened to Matt and I one week into our America trip. Even though we’d notified both of our banks, Matt’s card was blocked and his had all the money on it! After a few frantic and expensive calls to the UK we were no better off. They said that they would send a new card to our home address, which was no good as we were away for 87 days. They provided no alternatives. Luckily, we were able to transfer the money to my account and we continued with no further problems. Upon leaving for Canada we triple checked that our banks knew of our extended trip!

  1. Find cheap gas

The cost of gas can vary massively dependent on your location. We were paying 89 cents a gallon in Calgary (although that didn’t last for too long) however by the time we were in Vancouver we were paying up to 143 cents a gallon! A massive swing. We started googling the cheapest gas prices in our area and found that sometimes going just a little further could save a few cents a gallon. Whilst it doesn’t sound like a lot, it could save quite a bit when putting in a full tank.

For example

gas buddy


Where are you planning on road-tripping to next? What tips do you have to saving along the way?


15 thoughts on “How to Save Money on a Road Trip

  1. Eva says:

    Nice! Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m from the Bay Area, CA but haven’t been to Big Sur before…would love to see it someday soon 🙂 And snacks are a must for any trip 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim Jones says:

    Great tips…especially the “don’t drive fast” one. I got nailed by air surveillance on a highway in the middle of nowhere between California and Nevada…oh BOY did that cost me a lot of money! 😦
    Loved all the tips and will put them into practice for my next road trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alexander Popkov says:

    Money saving trips are always useful. You think you are experienced, but when you look what others have to say, you would always find something new. Good. job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lexieanimetravel says:

    These are super useful tips for someone like me who is a roadtripper. Well, not in America but this helps me see how the difference of road trips in another country and as well us to be prepared whenever I may do a road trip in US. Great photos by the way the California High way one is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. PossesstheWorld says:

    We are devoted fans of the road trip and loved your list of tips. We have a cheap petrol finder app in Australia, does it exist in Canada too? We also like to have healthy food in the car and make a coffee before we leave in the morning to save a few dollars too

    Liked by 1 person

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