Plan a Road Trip and Stay within Your Budget

ACE is headed out on a Summer Road Trip! We’re traveling across the country to visit store teams and live like a local.

Is the open road calling your name? If your family craves a vacation, and you want to experience an exciting, timeless method of travel, a road trip could be the perfect choice.

You might think that road trips are less expensive than other types of travel like cross-country flights or a cruise. However, all types of travel expenses come down to budgeting and planning. With some careful thought ahead of time, your family will be off on a budget-friendly road trip in no time. Ready to get started?

Determine Your Budget

The first step to planning a road trip on a budget is to determine how much you can afford and what you’re willing to spend.  You may already have an idea of where you’d like to travel on your trip, and that may feel like a logical place to begin. However, if you start planning an epic coast-to-coast trip and then realize you can only reasonably afford half of that distance, you’ll be disappointed. On a road trip, your gas budget and overnight stays are the expenditures that guide the rest of your planning.

Also consider how much to spend on food and souvenirs. Are you heading out to try the best barbecue across the South? Hunting for handmade treasures on the West Coast? Willing to nosh on homemade sandwiches and splurge on a couple of world-famous restaurants along the way? Budget for what’s most important to you.

Plan Your Route

Now that you know how much you can spend on the travel essentials, it’s time to whip out a map and start strategizing. Look for travel deals and low-traffic routes where possible. You can use a trip planner to create your route!

Some tips for saving time and money on your road trip route:

  • Seek out non-toll highways
  • Look for deals on overnight stays with coupon sites, home rentals from Homeaway or AirBnB for shared spaces

Always consider your safety when planning and booking your stays.

Find Affordable On-the-Road Activities

Part of what makes road trips so special is the experience of driving on its own! Use travel guides to find free or more low-cost local attractions. Nature reserves and natural attractions are a beautiful place to start. Families can search for the best local playgrounds along their route and natural water features to break up long stretches on the road.

Plan Your Destination Splurges

Even if you’re not headed to Disney, you undoubtedly have a final destination in mind for your trip. At this stage in your road trip planning, it’s time to budget for what you’ll do there. Going to the beach? What are the must-see attractions? Going to NYC? What upscale dining experiences or outings do you want to indulge in? Plan an appropriate frequency and budget for these big-ticket activities.

Calculate the Total and Put it Away

Once you have an idea of what’s most important to you on your budget-friendly road trip, you can tally all your expenses and start saving! We recommend planning to use mostly cash on your getaway. While using a credit card for all or some of your trip purchases can help provide a cushion in your budget, it’s only helpful if you can afford it in the long-term. Dealing with interest charges and the stress of paying back a large sum when you return can zap the joy from any vacation.

One great way to put money away for your road trip is to set up a dedicated account for your travel expenses. With one total dollar amount in mind, you can use a separate account or card to save money and forget about it. Consider alternative money management options to help you stay on top of saving and spending on your trip!

Want to win some road trip essentials like a $100 prepaid card for gas and a 20-gallon Yeti Cooler? Enter the ACE Summer Road Trip Sweepstakes!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  To enter and for full rules, go to  Starts 12:01 PM CDST 7/22/19 and ends 11:59 PM CDST 8/18/19.  Open to residents of 50 U.S./D.C. 18 or older, except employees of Sponsor, its immediate families and those living in the same household.  Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received.  Void outside 50 U.S./D.C. and where prohibited.  A.R.V. of prize package not to exceed $550.  Sponsor: Populus Financial Group, Inc., Irving, TX.