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Obey the spending limit: Tips for an affordable holiday road trip

Date posted:  10/26/16 03:15:00 PM Woman driving

When it comes to holiday travel, things can get very hectic and expensive. If you have a large family, buying airplane tickets can be a substantial investment. Winter weather may also put your holiday travel plans on hold, making this a less appealing travel option.

An alternative that's a bit more affordable is  packing up the family car and driving to your holiday destination. To ensure you stay under your holiday travel budget, follow these tips:

Prepare your vehicle
Ensure your tire pressure is at an appropriate level, that the tread wear is safe and all other components of your car are working properly prior to your trip, noted Bankrate. Not only do these measures make your trip safer, but you and your family will also feel more comfortable. In addition, being up-to-date when it comes to car maintenance can save you money in the long run as you are less likely to experience car trouble on your journey.

Filling up your car tires with the appropriate amount of air will also improve your gas mileage and reduce the likelihood of an expensive blowout, noted U.S. News & World Report.

If your final destination is especially far, you may want to consider renting a car instead of using your own. This may also save you money as rental cars already have maintenance completed by the rental company.

Pack food and beverages
Convenience store expenses can add up quickly. Instead of spending money on snacks and sodas every time you fill up the gas tank, pack a cooler with you and your family's favorite treats. Bringing a few prepared meals can help decrease additional stops at restaurants during the road trip.

Toll roads take a toll
While a toll road might save you on mileage, these stops can get expensive. Determine your route ahead of time to either avoid toll roads entirely or look into electronic toll-collection systems. In addition to saving money, toll collection systems will help you get to your destination faster.

Avoid a ticket
It may be tempting to drive a little faster to shave off the minutes it takes to get to your holiday destination, but it can wind up costing you more than you'd like. A speeding ticket costs about $150 on average, but can be even higher.

In addition, driving over the speed limit can hurt your fuel efficiency. Speeds above 55 miles per hour decrease your fuel economy.

Know where to fill up
When it is time to get gas, try to find stations that have more affordable prices. Download the GasBuddy app for your phone to find the cheapest gas while you are on your trip. And, as another perk, GasBuddy is free to use.

If you have a particular gas station you like, enroll in its rewards program prior to traveling. This may provide some additional discounts or sales as you earn points.

Think about your data
In today's world, your phone is one of the most useful tools you own. However, data overage charges can be detrimental when it's time to pay the phone bill. On a road trip, you and your family may use more data than you'd like. From the kids playing games, to your navigator providing directions to your final destination, it can add up quickly.

Track your data usage or consider contacting your service provider to initiate a data cap when on your road trip.

This holiday season, save money by embarking on an affordable road trip. With a little planning, you can enjoy the season with your loved ones without breaking the bank.