The best part of road trips compared to other modes of traveling is no doubt the freedom it entails. Options for where to go are virtually endless, and the decision to change direction and itinerary is relatively no sweat. However, this wide range of opportunity comes with a catch – the greater chance for the overall expense to rise higher than the anticipated figure at the onset. This is due to a number of factors which are listed below, which if properly prepared for, won’t cause too great a financial headache during what is meant to be a fun getaway:
Of course, the automobile your driving needs to be insured if you’re not renting a vehicle, but what about protecting your stuff back home? It’s a known fact that thieves target residences observed to be unoccupied for several days in a row – and most road trips are going to last a week or longer. Homeowners need to check to see if their policy covers theft. Meanwhile, renters ought to consider renters insurance before making plans to hit the road for awhile. Few things kill the excitement of a vacation like being hundreds of miles away and hearing your home has been burglarized.
Pre-Departure Purchases and Preparation
Another easily overlooked expense associated with road trips is the pre-departure preparation process. Is the vehicle properly maintained – are the tires good, fluids fresh, and suspension sound? How about buying new clothes for the journey, especially if the destination is someplace with a significantly different climate? Not to mention, most travelers prefer to stock up on toiletries before departure. In short, it’s not unusual to spend a few hundred bucks for a road trip without leaving the city limits. Factor this at the onset of trip planning.
Emergencies and Replacements
Good tires and recently changed fluids won’t keep a worn clutch from failing. Automobile emergencies are at the top of the list of most likely emergency costs to occur without warning during a road trip, but they aren’t the only kind of surprise purchase to have a payment plan for prior to leaving. Seemingly benign things like replacement sunglasses sound like things you don’t need to anticipate, but if those in a family of five each have an unexpected purchase, for example, that’s $100 right there.
Whether it’s bad weather, bad traffic, bad directions, some combination of the three or something else entirely, the planned itinerary for which town you’ll be in at what time can easily get tossed out the window. The result is unscheduled lodgings, which can be a crap shoot and a money drainer at once. When the decision is made to stop somewhere unplanned for the night, assign somebody in the car to look at rates for hotels in upcoming towns. Look at reviews to rule out the nasty ones. But prior to all of this – assign a few hundred bucks to the possibility of paying for hotels out of the way or otherwise unexpectedly booked.
Markup Down Cold
If there’s one thing to keep in mind as far as the hidden costs of a road trip are concerned, it’s the likelihood of entering many “tourist” zones during your trip. This can’t be avoided and shouldn’t, for how else are you going to see the natural and man-made beauty exhibited across the map? However, the highways leading in and out of these places are cutting through towns which many times build their economies around folks stopping in during a road trip. As such, it’s not unusual for food and products in the establishments closest to the highway to be marked-up by a dollar or more. Simply put, when figuring an estimated cost of snacks, gas, and dine-in eating, add an extra buck to every bag of chips, tank of gas, and hamburger you imagine will be bought along the way.
Few ways to travel provide as much room for maneuvering and spontaneity as the road trip. However, this relatively unbridled freedom can lead to runaway costs compared to the projected expense of the trip at the onset. Keeping in mind these often forgotten expenses associated with a road trip is key to ensuring an enjoyable experience on the open road.