Road Tripping on a Budget: How to Save Money on Your Next Road Trip

road trip save money

While everyone loves scoring a great deal on cheap flights, there’s still nothing quite like setting out on an epic road trip. With miles of open road, a carefully curated playlist, and your best travel partner by your side, road trips are a great way to see the country and pack a ton of adventures into one incredible trip.

At the same time, road trips can quickly become expensive. Just the fuel, hotels, and food costs alone can eat into your road trip budget before you even cross state lines, effectively wiping out any money you save by driving instead of flying. And while it definitely helps to create a tight travel budget, you’ll need some extra help to really save money on a road trip.

Luckily, we’re constantly looking for new ways to help you travel on a budget, whether it’s through finding cheap flights or publishing budget travel guides. With more Dollar Flight Club members hitting the road these days, we’ve been on the lookout for new ways to help you plan a road trip on a budget and found an unexpected, easy-to-use solution: Honey. It’s a free browser add-on that saves you money by automatically finding the best discounts and promo codes from thousands of sites, including popular travel sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, and TripAdvisor.

Considering that Honey is free to use, it seemed like a total no-brainer way to save money on travel. To find out for sure, we teamed up with Honey and walked through the major parts of a road trip budget to see how their extension can help you save money on your next road trip.


How Does the Honey Chrome Extension Work?

Honey is a browser add on that works in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera browsers. It’s easy to install and even easier to use.

Once it’s installed, you can simply plan your trip as you normally would. Once you’re ready to book that hotel room or buy that new backpack, just add it to your shopping cart, proceed to checkout, and Honey will apply the biggest possible savings to your cart automatically.

By automatically applying deals, Honey saves you the hassle of having to compare dozens of sites just to make sure that you’re getting the best price. Plus, if you’re planning your trip weeks or months in advance, you can add your wish list items to Honey’s Droplist, a price tracker that notifies you whenever prices drop.

honey GIF

Road Trip Gear and Supplies

Even for the most seasoned travelers, just about every trip starts with buying a few pieces of gear – and road trips are certainly no different.

While it’s tempting to buy every travel toy on your ever-expanding packing list, it’s also a guaranteed way to wreck your budget before you even hit the road. Fortunately, when buying the essentials, Honey quickly proved that it was able to find savings for the sites that we regularly buy from, regardless of what level of budget road trip we were planning.

If you’re road tripping on a very tight budget, you’ll save a lot of money by spending your nights at campsites instead of expensive hotels. This means that you’ll need to be prepared with the right equipment – things like sleeping bags, tents, and a camp stove. When stocking up on our camping gear, we found that Honey was able to find and apply savings on the top outdoor sites like REI, Backcountry, and even Dick’s Sporting Goods, so we were able to save money while still buying from the sites that we already knew and trusted.

Honey was equally impressive as we planned more unique styles of road trips, occasionally in some pretty surprising ways. For example, if you’re one of the many people looking to hop on the popular #vanlife trend – buying and customizing your own van for a road trip – you’re in luck! Honey even found us savings at Lowe’s Home Improvement, so we scored deals on the supplies needed to build a platform bed in the back of our (hypothetical) van!


packing essentials

Saving Money on Hotel Bookings

Whether you’ve been out in the woods and need a clean room with a hot shower or you’ve been road tripping in a compact that’s far too small to sleep in, you’ll likely spend at least a few nights in a hotel on your road trip.

When it came to booking hotel rooms, it couldn’t have been easier. Honey was able to provide deals for many of the top booking sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia, so we had plenty of options.

Of course, sometimes it’s best to book directly with the hotel, especially if you belong to any travel rewards or loyalty programs. Fortunately, we were also able to find some great direct booking deals with major brands including Mariott, the world’s largest hotel chain.


Road Trip Food Budget

Food is one of the biggest factors in your road trip budget. While drive-thru burgers and bags of gas station beef jerky don’t sound like major expenses, they definitely add up. That doesn’t mean that you need to live on trail mix and protein bars during your road trip, but if you want to save money, you need to plan ahead.

One of the best ways to save money on a road trip is to buy groceries and cook your own food. Whether you built a stove in the back of your new tricked out van or you packed a small camping stove to use at campsites, you’ll have a lot more money to spend on experiences – and gas – if you do your own cooking. 

Now, because you normally shop for groceries in person, we weren’t sure that we’d be able to score any deals in this category. So in true budget traveler fashion, we had to get a little bit creative. We shopped around for food and saw that Honey was able to find deals at major grocery store chains throughout the country such as Kroger, Publix, Aldi, Safeway, and even Costco. Then, we realized that we could take advantage of these savings because most grocery stores now allow you to shop online and pick up your order in-store. This way, Honey could have actually saved us both time and money!

For when you’re sick of cooking or just can’t stand the thought of eating any more highway rest stop cuisine, we were able to find a few creative budget-friendly take out options.

Honey offers tons of deals on popular food ordering platforms like Grubhub and DoorDash. So when you enter a new town, you can order food from local restaurants and either pick it up on your way to the campgrounds or have it delivered to wherever you’ve decided to park for the night. For the nights that you’d rather get out of the car and dine in, we also found a few deals to, a site that lets you buy discounted certificates to local restaurants.


Honey for Travelers: The Verdict

When it comes to saving money on a road trip, Honey is truly a budget traveler’s secret weapon. It’s completely free, easy to use, and automatically applies promo codes without making you search for them. Plus, with discounts from some of the biggest names in travel, you can still shop at your favorite sites and feel confident that you got the best deal possible.

So before you hit the road, add Honey to your browser and see how much you can save on your next trip.

  • Kyle Maltz, COO & Partner

    Kyle’s an adventure loving Seattleite who’s busy skiing or traveling the world when he’s not helping DFC move mountains. His favorite trips have been to Thailand, Turks and Caicos, and Costa Rica. Kyle stays busy connecting us with some of the best brands in the world and working on new ways for DFC to be the best in the business for helping travelers explore more and pay less. Kyle oversees daily operations and growth strategy for Dollar Flight Club, including the Flight Alerts product as well as the media publishing side of the business.

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