Who wants to go on a last minute weekend road trip to the USA? Whether it’s from Vancouver to Seattle or Portland, or from Montreal to Boston these road trips can be the stuff of epic adventures. The problem with weekend trips is that they can be just as expensive as a planned week or two in Mexico so I have a few tips on how you can save some money without a whole lot of pre-planning needing to be done. Get your friends to say yes on a Thursday night and Friday after work all you have to do is pack your bag, pick your destination and the adventure has begun! Here are three road trip tips guaranteed to save you money!
Tip #1 Grocery Store Membership – My first tip is all about hacking the price of groceries and booze while you are on your epic weekend adventure. Skip the convenience stores when you want to pick up snacks, groceries and your booze supply. Head instead to a major grocery store en route to your destination and shop for what you need. When you get to the checkout line ask to join their membership program, all they usually ask for is your phone number. This way all the items you picked up that are on sale will actually be the member only sale price and not full price. In April I was in Hawaii and saved over 60 US$ picking up wine, snacks and breakfast items for a four-day stay in Maui.
Tip #2 Roam Like Home – Let’s talk roaming fees and cell plans. I highly doubt you will turn your phone off when you cross the border into the United States. Maybe you’ll use your Google Maps for directions or you’ll blast your favourite Spotify playlist while you drive. Either way, you want to be able to use your data and phone just like you do at home so make sure you have the best plan possible.
I’m with Rogers and have a Share Everything plan. When I signed up I activated the Roam Like Home option and now every time I go to the United States my phone plan continues as if nothing has changed.For $5 a day (and I’m only charged up to 10 days per billing cycle) I can use my plan and phone just like I do when I’m at home.I don’t have to remember to buy a roaming package before the road trip or swap out my sim card for an American one I have to preload. Like I said this makes perfect sense for those unplanned last minute road trips with your best friends.
Tip #3 Gasbuddy – Obviously this is a road trip so that means you are going to be driving. No matter what vehicle you have the cost of gas is something that could always be lower. My best advice is to make sure you have downloaded the GasBuddy APP. During my recent month long road trip in California, I used the APP every time I needed to fuel up the car. From San Diego to Sonoma Valley and back South to San Jose I drove filling up at the cheapest gas stations I could find on my route using GasBuddy. As long as you have roaming data available you can find the cheapest gas in real time 24 hours a day. If you have the Roam Like Home plan activated you won’t have to worry about using up all your roaming data.
How does it work? Once you’ve installed the APP all you have to do is tap the APP, search for stations in your area, pick the one that has the best price and then click on the directions so that your Google Maps will show you how to get there. Gasbuddy crowdsources from its users the cost of gas at these stations and lets you know the last time it was updated. This way you know you are getting the most up to date info possible. Be a good citizen and update and confirm the price at the station you’ve chosen.
Another tip for saving money on gas prices in the states is to pay for your gas with cash. Every station generally has two prices. One for cash and another that is always higher if you pay by credit card. Arco Stations don’t accept credit cards, just debit cards and cash and their prices are even lower as they don;t pay the credit card fees. Depending on how far you drive this tip can save you the price of a casual lunch or a nice dinner out. Not a bad idea to fill up before you cross the border back into Canada.
I bet with these three tips you should easily be able to save over $100 on your weekend adventure. Considering that this in US dollars and that as of today the exchange rate is over $1.27 CA per $1 US it’s a pretty significant savings.