Cooking on gas stove during budget road trip

Road trip budget guide, 10 tips to save money

Have you ever wondered how much does a road trip cost? By car is a great way to be free and explore your surroundings. Whether you’re in Canada or Europe it’s always the right time to explore. Not sure how much it will cost, or what your road trip budget should be?

A road trip does not have to be that expensive. For a long time I thought it will cost a lot, but after doing some road trips I realized how easy it actually is to save money. I give you 10 tips showing you how I saved my budget while traveling by car. This way you can save money during your next road trip as well.

Road trip on a Budget

Why you should go on a road trip

Did you ever drive somewhere and thought: I just keep driving. This is where a road trip is all about, there is nothing that tells you where to go or what to do. It is the ultimate feeling of freedom.

1. Sleeping in your van/car

Sleeping in your car is a great option if your budget is tight. If you have a van it will be easy for you to lay down comfortably. However, if you travel by car you will need to get used to sleeping with the driver seat flat.

Be safe while you sleep

A good way to stay safe while you sleep is to think about where you park your car. Try to park it in a quiet neighborhood or close to a public place. Beaches are great places to park as there are often other people camping as well.


If your space is limited you will not have the most comfortable nights in your car. Maybe it is oke if you are in a city just for some nights. The best option, in this case, is to bring a tent for camping if you are driving around nature.

2. Cooking on the road

Cooking on gas stove during budget road trip

During a road trip, the best thing you can do to save your budget is to cook your own meals. Before you leave home, buy some butane bottles and a gas stove. This way you can carry all the food you need in the back of your car.

Budget breakfast

When I go for a road trip I always bring a big bag of oats. They don’t go over date, and they are super easy to prepare. Also, a pack of cornflakes of choice is a great option for a more “luxury” breakfast.

3. Save up on water

Depending on where you are it is maybe a good idea to save on water. Without noticing buying a bottle of water can get your road trip budget up pretty quick. A good practice is to buy a jerrycan of water every now and then and try to fill it wherever you are. Not only do you save money you also don’t damage the environment this way.

4. Share your ride

Riding in the desert

The budget for your road trip is running low and you really don’t want to pay the gas. In this case, an option would be to offer your ride on a rideshare website. By doing this you can share the cost of your gas with someone who needs a ride.

Offer paid rides.

Some websites you might use to share your ride on are blablacar or Uber. They are both great website to earn some money back and meet new people while doing that.

Picking up hitchhikers.

Besides getting paid to share your ride it’s also nice to pick up hitchhikers on the way. If you are on the road for a long time it’s great to share some stories with each other.

5. Park your car where it’s free

In most of the cities around the world, you need to pay a lot for parking. A great tip if you want to save some money is: Park outside the city center. Search google if there is any form of park and ride in the city you are visiting. This means you can park your car in a lot and take a train from there to the city. If you do this in every city you visit, it can save you money.

6. Buy food in bulk

Bought some bulk food on my road trip

The biggest budget killer on a road trip is your groceries. This also makes it a great thing to save money on. A great way to get cheap groceries is to buy in bulk. If you will be on a road trip for a long time you should always stock up on food in the cheapest supermarket in your destination.

7. Finding public showers

maybe one of the most challenging things on the road is finding a shower. Sometimes it seems like the only option to find one is to sleep in a hotel. Good news, there are actually a lot of public showers around the world (most of them are even really good).

In Australia for example, they are literally everywhere, on beaches, gas stations I even found one in a shopping mall. The best way to find a shower while you’re on a road trip is to google for: “Public shower Melbourne” or “Public shower Melbourne Reddit”. You will be surprised how many showers there are around the world!

8. Save on gas

A gas station during my road trip

There are some small things you can do to get the most out of your gas. First, did you know your air conditioning is actually using gas of your car? If the temperature is good outside it is better to open a window instead.

Look for the gas prices.

Another kind of obvious way is to pay attention to gas prices. If you are in an area you don’t know it is a good idea to keep your eye on the gas prices. If you are on a budget while road tripping this can make a big difference in the end!

Drive your car economic.

If you are driving on the highway you should always use your highest gear, this will cost you the least gas. If you drive in a city you should shift as less as possible, this will also save gas.

9. Try dumpster diving

I know this maybe sounds like a gypsy tip but it’s worth it. If you ever feel adventurous, try dumpster diving. 80% of the food we produce gets thrown away. Supermarkets play a big role in this process, they clear their shelves every day. Most of the time a big part of the food they throw away is actually still good to eat.

I used to do some dumpster diving when I was on road trips. Sometimes you have to search to find something that’s actually eatable. But as soon as you do it feels good that it’s free and above all, the food does not get wasted.

Is dumpster diving legal?

Although you help the environment with dumpster diving, supermarkets won’t like you doing it. They don’t want to take any unnecessary risk of you getting sick from their food. For this reason, a lot of supermarkets put a lock on their dumpster. A die-hard dumpster-dive tip: always check if the lock is really locked, as most supermarkets just hang it there preventive.

10. Buy a roadmap

Road map of australia

While I’m on a road trip I always like to buy a map of the country I’m visiting. Although this will not really impact the savings on your budget, it’s a really nice way to travel.

Sometimes you can buy a book where there are numbers on the maps witch symbolize campsites. You can then see how much it costs for one night and what facilities they have available.


Going away with a tight road trip budget is guarantied to give you adventure. It is about getting creative and improvising. I could suggest everyone to do it at least once in their life!

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