by Vicky Monroe
Right now my spouse and I are on a road trip to visit my parents since they couldn’t travel to see us due to health issues. My spouse and I usually aren’t huge fans of travel, but I’ve been missing my parents a lot lately. I haven’t seen them since before the pandemic, so it’s worth making the trip from Michigan to Massachusetts to spend time with them.
We decided to stretch out the 16-hour road trip a bit so we could see some attractions along the way. We figured if we have to make the long drive to Boston, we may as well make the most of it and see some sights! We’re currently staying in Buffalo, New York for a night so we can visit Niagara Falls. On our return trip, we’re going to stay in Toronto and explore the city for a day.
However, we’re still trying to minimize our costs on this trip so we don’t throw off our budget or debt repayment goals. Here’s how we’re keeping costs down on this vacation.
We’re Driving Instead of Flying
One of the ways we’re saving money is by driving instead of flying. Although flying is more direct and convenient, gas is cheaper than two plane tickets. Driving from Michigan to Massachusetts only uses up $200 in gas round-trip, which is half the cost of airfare for two people.
We also decided to take the most direct route to save money on gas by going through Canada. And we chose attractions that aren’t too far out of the way to reduce our mileage and fuel costs.
We Brought Our Dog Instead of Boarding Him
Boarding dogs can be expensive and usually adds several hundred dollars to the cost of a trip. We have an 8-pound maltese shih tzu mix who’s pretty well-behaved in the car. We decided to bring him along to save money and introduce him to my parents. They’re huge dog lovers and lost their shih tzu a few months ago, so I think meeting our dog will really brighten their spirits.
Staying With Family and Using Hotel Points
We’re visiting Boston for about a week to squeeze in as much family time as possible. My sister generously offered to let us stay in her guest room, so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel or Airbnb in Massachusetts. However, we did need accommodations for our road trip. Because the drive is pretty long and we wanted to stop at some tourist attractions, we decided to book one hotel room on the way there and one on the way back.
Luckily my dad is a frequent traveler and has a lot of Marriott loyalty points saved up. He was kind enough to let us use some of his points to pay for our two hotel stays, so they didn’t cost us anything. Paying with points is a great way to save money on travel, but only if you can use your credit card responsibly and pay off the balance in full every month.
Another way we save money on road trips is by packing lots of snacks. Sometimes we still want a hot meal while we’re on the road. But having granola bars, crackers, and water bottles on hand helps us save money on food and reduces the number of stops we have to make. That way we can get to our destination faster and start enjoying our vacation and family time!
How do you save money on road trips and vacations?
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.
Hotel points by far. Actually, reward points in general. Back when the Chase Sapphire Reserve had 100k points and $300 travel credit if you spent $4,000 in the first three months, I signed up for it right before a large purchase. Got the points and parlayed that into a flight, rental car, and three-night stay in Nashville for the SEC Basketball tournament. The hotel I booked was going for $495 a night because it was within walking distance of the arena (as well as downtown). I got it with points and had a blast.
Wow that’s amazing! It sounds like you really stretched your points and made the most of them. Glad you had a great trip!