Are you going on a road trip for Memorial Day weekend? Normally my family stays home but this year we are going to Pennsylvania for my cousin’s 50th birthday celebration. The idea of being on the road during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year doesn’t sit well with us, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime event that we don’t want to miss.
If you are traveling this weekend, or any time during the summer for that matter, these tips from author Andrea Woroch** are especially helpful.
As the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend is often celebrated with a road trip to the lake, beach or mountains. AAA Travel projects 37.2 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this holiday, representing a 4.7% increase from last year and the highest travel volume for Memorial Day in 10 years.
With so many people hitting the road during this peak travel time, planning ahead will ensure a smooth trip with lots of savings. Here are several tips to ensure a carefree and budget-friendly Memorial Day weekend getaway.
Prep your car. Heading out on a road trip takes a little more prep work than simply typing an address in the GPS. You should get your vehicle serviced to ensure a smooth trip, check the air pressure in your tires for optimal gas mileage, pack a cooler with refreshments and snacks, and make sure you have chargers for all your necessary gadgets like smartphones and navigation guidance. For more ideas, review 10 things to check before you hit the road.
Call your bank and credit card company. Planning ahead doesn’t end with car maintenance. You also have to call your bank and credit card companies to alert them of your upcoming trip. Provide a general route or cities you’ll be visiting so they don’t think there’s any fraudulent activity. Otherwise, you may experience interruption of service or a hold on your accounts, which means you won’t have access to your funds.
Beware of skimmers. Fraudulent activity is especially rampant during peak travel season, so it’s important to monitor your online bank and credit card statements daily. Thieves use “skimming” devices to steal bank and credit card data, often placed inside credit card slots on gas pumps and ATMs. If any swipe machines look like they’re been tampered with, pay with cash or go to another rest area or restaurant. It’s wise to withdraw some cash to cover gas purchases and small travel expenses before you leave home, too.
Research gas prices. Use the GasBuddy website or download their free app to research fuel prices along your route to find the cheapest price per gallon. Then review your credit cards to figure out which one offers the best rewards for fuel purchases so you can maximize cash back or travel points during your trip.
Decode lodging deals. Waiting until the last-minute to book a hotel isn’t recommended during peak travel holidays, but there are still options for saving money at the eleventh hour. You can find discounted luxury digs from hotels looking to fill unsold rooms via the HotelTonight app, or you could buy someone’s unwanted reservation for less through the site RoomerTravel. Otherwise, check CouponSherpa.com for travel deals at third-party hotel booking sites like Hotels.com, BookIt, HotelWiz, or score a free night through VRBO.
Pitch a tent. With warmer weather upon us, sleeping under the stars is a less expensive alternative to hotels, especially since room rates peak during popular holiday weekends like Memorial Day. Research camping spots along your route at ReserveAmerica.com and make a reservation before you hit the road.
Make the most of the drive. Get your family and friends to use their mobile devices for more than just social sharing during the drive. Download the Roadtrippers app to find fun activities along your route or the Field Trip app to discover cool spots like historic sites and quaint shops. The app even offers a special “nearby deals” feature to help you save money on dining and shopping. When you’re on an endless stretch of flat terrain with nothing to see or do, have fun by quizzing each other about U.S. travel with the Road Trip Trivia Game app.
Mind your data use. Though I recommend using your smartphone for enhancing your trip, keep an eye on your data use to avoid potential overage fees that will send your bill soaring! Download maps or any apps from your home or hotel before hitting the road, enable your WiFi locator to find free connections en route, and turn off push notifications from social media and email apps. Use My Data Manager app to track data use across shared and family plans.
Plan a staycation. If you decide traveling this Memorial Day weekend is simply out of the budget, save money and stress by staying home. While laying around your living room isn’t glamorous, you can make it fun and memorable with a little creativity. Plan a staycation that involves pitching tents and roasting marshmallows over a fire pit in your backyard, or recreate your favorite destination by cooking meals you enjoyed most on the last trip. You can even book a room at a hotel downtown to feel like you’re escaping for one night while still keeping it cheap.
These are great tips!
Do you have any tips that you would like to share. Feel free to leave a comment on this post and share your best travel tip for others.
**Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes and many more. For more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.
This post was shared with permission from the author.