I’ve done a few long road trips in my life, mostly driving back and forth from Austin, Texas to my hometown in Wisconsin. Gas is definitely the largest expense, but meals, snacks, and drinks can cost a lot—both financially and health-wise.
For my first road trip home, I didn’t prepare very well. I stopped at a lot of fast food places and whenever I filled up on gas, I would grab some snacks or a soda. When I looked at my spending, I realized that I needed to figure something else out to help save money.
Tips and tricks from the lessons I’ve learned:
- Buy all your provisions prior to heading out. Buying from a grocery store instead of a gas station can help save you money.
- Make a list. If you’re traveling with others, ask them if they’d like snacks and drinks for the road trip.
- Be reasonable. How long will you be on the road? How often would you snack during that time period if you weren’t on the road? Don’t go overboard on snacks and food just because you’re going to be driving.
- Buy “convenient” foods. Eating yogurt on the road isn’t the easiest (I’ve tried…). When you’re thinking about snacks, make sure they’re items you can easily grab, get out of the wrapper, and eat. Some of my favorites: granola bars, string cheese, Chex Mix, trail mix, pretzels, etc.
- Prepare your fruit and veggies prior to getting on the road. Love apples? Oranges? Carrots? Wash, cut, and put into plastic baggies prior to getting on the road.
- Bring a cooler. I usually put my cooler on the floor in the front between the passenger chair and the dash. Easy to reach.
- Driving during a meal time? Pack some sandwiches! They are quick to make and easy to eat.
- Drinking coffee or soda? I usually buy a case or six pack of soda and put a couple in my cooler at a time. For my coffee fix, I use ready-to-go packs of coffee and add hot water from a gas station.
How do you save money on food and drinks on the road?