The official first day of summer may actually be next week, but it pretty much feels like it’s already here.
So if you haven’t already planned a good old-fashioned summer getaway, now’s the time to get on it — especially since gas prices are low.
Money reported gas prices across the nation have averaged less than $2.50 a gallon for over 18 months now. The current national average of $2.32 a gallon is about five cents cheaper than this same time last year, and prices may continue to drop into July and August, according to AAA.
Basically, it’s the perfect time to plan a road trip.
Before You Go
Save Up: If you won’t be traveling until later in the season, use this time wisely to save up in advance. Here are 10 tips to stacking money before a vacation.
Plan It Out: Decide where you want to go and what you want to see and do on your trip. If you’re interested in traveling through the south, AAA reports South Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee are currently the top five states for the least expensive gas prices.
AAA’s Gas Prices site breaks down the average prices for each state and different metro areas, so you can get a feel for how much you’ll pay for fuel wherever you go.
Get Prepared: Since you’ll be traveling via car, truck or van, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle’s in good working condition (and is stocked up with all the goodies you’ll need). This post of tips to saving money while traveling cross country will help you check those items off your to-do list, plus it offers additional helpful advice.
While You’re On the Road
You can say the travel bug has bitten The Penny Hoarder staffers a time or two. Writer Dana Sitar wrote about a road trip she took from Florida’s Tampa Bay area to Savannah, Georgia, spending less than $300. She recommends skipping on the gas station snacks and finding free entertainment.
Writer Jamie Cattanach wrote about her two-month cross-country trip where she visited 20 states and spent roughly $5,000. Her money-saving advice includes saying yes to couchsurfing and stocking the car with a cooler.
When You Get Home
Preserve the memories of your travels by creating low-cost souvenirs.
Take the postcards you’ve collected during your stops and transform them into travel keepsakes by simply punching a hole in each one and affixing them together with a keychain ring, or a loose-leaf ring as Martha Stewart Living suggests.
Select a few photos from the hundreds you’ll take on your phone, and turn them into a work of art. Cut, Craft, Create has instructions on making a personalized photo map.
You can also take photos and travel trinkets and work them into a memory shadowbox. Souvenir Finder gives you an idea of how to make one yourself.
Overall, a little creativity goes a long way when it comes to taking a fun, affordable road trip you’ll be sure to remember for years to come.
Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She wants to take a massive road trip throughout the United States one day.by