One Thing You Shouldn't Forget To Budget Into Your Road Trip Costs

To say that traveling has become expensive in recent years would be a massive understatement. Air travel, in particular, has become so pricey that it can sometimes be difficult to justify traveling via plane at all. It comes as no surprise that most people prefer going on road trips to flying, not least because it's a much more comfortable experience, but because it's considerably cheaper, too. Not to mention, you also get to make rest stops whenever you want, alongside witnessing breathtaking sights that you won't see from an airplane window.

Generally, road trips are more wallet-friendly as you usually only have to factor in gas and snacks, and perhaps accommodation if you're doing a lengthy cross-country trip. Instead of shelling out thousands on flights for the entire family, Kyle Kroeger, the founder and CEO of ViaTravelers, advised Go Banking Rates that $1,000 should sustain you, noting, "This will ensure that you have enough money to cover all your expenses and have some leftover in the budget for souvenirs." 

For shorter trips, $150 a day per person should cover all of the essentials. But then again, since you will technically be living inside your vehicle for the duration of the road trip, it's also important to consider maintenance costs. Spending money on packed lunches and sandwiches is important, obviously, but don't scrimp on the necessities to make your car road trip ready.

Include car maintenance costs in your budget

It's no secret that road trips require extensive planning. Apart from planning your route, you also must take into account the number of stops you'll be making, the food you'll be preparing, and the entertainment options you need to bring for the kids so your sanity can remain intact while on the road. If you are planning to drive for a particularly long distance, it's crucial that you also get a tune-up for your car, so automobile experts can take an in-depth look at your vehicle and check if there's anything that needs to be replaced or upgraded before you depart. The last thing you want is your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

Tune-ups are essentially preventative maintenance checks that vehicles need to ensure that they're in proper working condition. They're also necessary for engine optimization. During a tune-up, mechanics will typically do an oil change, fluid level inspection, spark plug replacement, battery check, tire and tread depth assessment, and more. 

Standard tune-ups only take a couple of hours and are recommended to be performed every 10,000 to 12,000 miles. Depending on your vehicle's needs, you can also expect to shell out as little as $40 for a basic tuneup and as much as $800 for an extensive one. But suffice it to say that once you're out on the road, you'll be glad of it. 

Consider investing in roadside assistance too

Now, sometimes, even if you've done all the requisite prep work, your car can still fail you and leave you stranded mid-trip. You're lucky if you have enough know-how to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it yourself, or perhaps end up stopping near a mechanic. But if you're stuck in an unfamiliar place with no help in sight, you'll obviously want roadside assistance to come to the rescue ASAP. 

Many car insurance policies already come with roadside assistance, so you may want to call your provider to check. But if there's none, you can always get a separate roadside assistance policy for your peace of mind from agencies and auto clubs like the American Automobile Association (AAA), Better World Club, and Good Sam. Plans range from $60 to $150 a year, depending on if you opt for additional benefits. 

Typically, the standard plans cover the following; towing your car, jump-starting your battery, assistance with changing tires, unlocking your car, and delivering gas should you run out. Extra perks include extended towing limits, minor repairs, reimbursement for trip interruptions, and more. You don't want to spoil your road trip because of car issues. So, when you're planning your next one, make sure to keep some room in your budget for car maintenance and roadside assistance for a fun and fuss-free adventure.