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7 Proven Road Trip Hacks to Travel For (almost) Free

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Staying on the road for multiple weeks, even months might leave a big dent in your savings account. The key to successful, long-term road trips that won’t leave you in debt, stressed and exhausted, is either to have a job which you can take with you on the road or to have savings and make them last as long as possible.

Today, I want to talk a bit more about ways to save money through being a part of the sharing economy. Once you’re on the road, why not let other people join your travels for some time and fund some ongoing costs travel involves? Fuel, accommodation, food and drink on the go; these are perfect areas where there’s a lot of money to be saved. Up to 100% of your costs can be covered by other people you would travel with – isn’t that sweet? 

This list will guide you through the many ways to significantly decrease the cost of your travels, or even make them completely free.

It’s a small thing you can do for other people in exchange for money, services or a good dinner. 

These tips focus primarily on budget road trips, so if there are are different travel areas you’re looking to save your money on, check out our whole category dedicated to budget travel.

If you have any questions or tips you use to make your travel more affordable, it would be epic if you could share some with us!

Let’s get to the tips.

7 Road Trip Hacks To Travel For Free (almost)

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is much like having access to a database of good friends. I’ve always had a great experience either as a host or guest.

Couchsurfing is a travel-driven community allowing you to connect with a variety of people willing to host you, guide you or share their best secrets of the area they are living in. There’s no monetary exchange for their hospitality, but it’s good practice to bring something nice or delicious they can enjoy as a souvenir. 

Picking a host is relatively easy. Pay attention to filling in your profile adequately and keep it up to date. Anyway, shall we become friends? Check out my profile on Couchsurfing.com

Facebook Groups

If you’re looking for anything related to travel, then there’s bound to be dozens of Facebook groups dedicated to a specific travel niche – solo travel, motorcycle travel, adventure travel, female-travel etc.

Highly-engaged and focused towards cultural exchange and sharing experiences. 

You can aim for local travel groups or worldwide communities to find a bed, a room, a friend for life or all of them rolled into one. 

Groups I highly recommend are:

Host A Sister 🌎

Adopt a Backpacker Australia

Free Travel Accommodation – The Solo Female Traveler Network

Frugal Europe Travel

Hostel accomodation

I find that too many of us consider hostels as a student-only accommodation which is also low quality. That’s far from the truth.

Hostels are great places to meet new people or just spend very little to stay somewhere comfortable overnight, shower and get some proper rest before tackling another day of your trip! Also, when you have a car, staying away from crowded city centres can save you some extra bucks. 

Leaving your car behind in a hostel car park can also save you from the stress of finding a parking spot or getting in trouble with a parking fine!

Just remember to bring your own towel 😉 some hostels allow you to rent a towel but not all of them so it’s worth checking first.

Thermos, baby!

Would you believe me if I told you that many people in the USA spend up to $1000 a year on takeaway coffee alone?

Well, that’s an easy cost to cut-down.

Very often, if you’re staying in a hostel, you’ll have access to a kettle. If you have a couple of coffee or tea sachets (or handy coffee filters) you can save up to 95% of that. Investing in a thermos flask is a great swap; you’re not only saving money, but also the environment. Re-using the same thermos over and over again will mean you won’t run out of hot beverages on those cold winter days.

You can do so the other way around in the summer too. Put a couple of ice cubes in your thermos to enjoy your iced tea or iced coffee for most of the day. 

Blablacar

This car-pooling website is very popular in Europe and I use it very often to reduce the cost of fuel and motorway tolls. It’s free to post your route online. Let’s say, Barcelona to Paris – Blablacar will take care of finding you passengers who are willing to chip-in. Choose a pick-up location on your route, show up a little bit before and agree the drop-off location with your passengers ahead of time. I guarantee people will appreciate it and may even give you a tip! 

Apart from that, if you’re travelling solo, it will be someone interesting to keep you company. They can be your co-pilot, be the DJ or tell you the most random stories of their life. You can even share your own stories if you feel like it. 

(Here’s a little secret: if your car is very economical and you have 3 paying passengers on your trip, you won’t be paying for any fuel. shhh keep it quiet!)

Car camping

If you love to stay further away from the cities and dive-in to nature, car-camping is the perfect solution. However, it’s more enjoyable in the warmer months and requires some investment in the tent. 

There’s an advantage to buying a roof tent over a regular ground tent:

  • 60 second setup – it’s so much faster and easier than a normal tent to setup
  • Safety – you’re well above the ground so you’re safe from insects, wild animals, a wet ground and damp mist.
  • No carrying – it remains securely attached to the roof of your car at all times.
  • Pitch anywhere – you don’t need to search for flat ground to set it up.
  • Universal and versatile – a roof tent fits any car with roof bars fitted.

There are some mobile apps and maps we use to find free parking:

Supermarket petrol stations

If you love to save money, avoid the motorway petrol stations and find a local supermarket that also has a petrol station. Prices are much better, sometimes less than 20 cents per litre of petrol or diesel. Another thing I find easier about these petrol stations, that they are a quick way to refill-and-go.

Many times I’ve found myself leaving a petrol station not only with fuel, but a pack of chewing gum, a hot dog, a magazine, a Little Trees air freshener and lots of other items I don’t need. Sometimes you just want to pay for the fuel and continue your journey without getting distracted. 

No worries, we have more budget travel tips!

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