6 ways to save money on your Independence Day road trip

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6 ways to save money on your Independence Day road trip
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As millions of Americans prepare to hit the road for Fourth of July week, some extra savings could make the journey even sweeter. As you fill up your tank with fuel and grab your map (yes, you should still have a map), you’re going to want to make your trip as cost-effective as possible.

AAA says more than 47 million Americans will kick off the month by getting away around the Fourth of July. The projection constitutes a 5% increase over last year and the most in a dozen years.

Before you go to the ATM to drain your bank account for travel expenses, there are several ways to trim your budget.

Here are 6 ways to save money while road-tripping

If you plan on hitting the road for the holiday, here are some tips on saving money along the way:

  • Rent a vehicle: You probably planned to drive your own car on vacation, but money expert Clark Howard says you could end up saving more money in the long haul if you rent a car. “If you shop and find a good deal on a rental car, you put those trip miles and the depreciation that goes with it on that rental car instead of your own,” he says.
  • Pack a lunch: If you’re going to be on the road for a while, it’s a good idea to pack a few snacks. Nothing too complicated and messy (no barbecue ribs or ginormous tacos that spill into your lap), so as not to distract your driving. This will not only save you and your family some pretty nice cash, it will also save you time.
  • Download some restaurant apps: If you choose not to pack your own food, you likely will opt to pull over and grab a burger or something similar from a fast-food chain. There’s nothing wrong with that, but why not save money doing it? The BK mobile app has several coupons, including a buy-one-Whopper-get-one-free deal. The McDonald’s app has weekly deals, including a free McCafe with purchase.
  • Bring a cooler: Nothing wastes time more than having to pull off the interstate and venture into some strange little town for a $2.99 Dasani. Bringing chilled water is a great idea, especially if there happens to be a traffic jam and you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere for an hour.
  • Skip lodging: If your trip isn’t too long, you can save a bunch of money by not having to secure lodging. Better yet, got family along the way? Pay an overnight visit and catch up.
  • Don’t speed: The #1 way to save money on a road trip is to obey the traffic laws. Nothing stinks more than being pulled over and hearing those eight frightening words: “Do you know how fast you were going?” Trust us: The money you save on that ticket could be the difference between the cost of driving vs. flying.

“This Independence Day will be one for the record books, as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president, AAA Travel and Publishing. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”

AAA’s survey showed that one in three respondents said they would alter their travel plans if gas prices hit $3, while 47% said that $3.50/gallon would change their summer plans. What about you? Would gas prices dictate how and where you travel? Let us know in the comments.

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer.  You can reach Craig at craig@clark.com
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