It’s already August, so there are just a few weeks left to summer. No more lazy days by the pool or trips to the beach. But before you start feeling down, there is still time to have one last adventure before returning to the regular grind.
If you’re on a budget, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on hotels or airline tickets. With gas prices the lowest they’ve been in years, you can have an epic journey with family or friends with a summer road trip.
Here are the top five places to visit on your trip.
If you’ve never been to Arizona, it’s a gorgeous state with plenty of social media-worthy photo opportunities. While the Grand Canyon is spectacular, it also has more to offer. Incredible off-road trails allow you to get a close-up views of the red rocks and formations.
Places like Sedona also have interesting shops, eateries and nightlife. Or, you can visit Tombstone, a preserved Old West town with historical re-enactments and even a bar to enjoy a pint in a saloon setting.
Photo courtesy of @awoolfie
California’s Pacific Coast Highway 1 is the perfect destination for road trippers. At different places along the highway, you can stop and watch sea lions, whales and enjoy scenic views. You can also visit the Point Sur Lighthouse for a fantastic view of the ocean.
Photo courtesy of @jstnross
If the theme parks aren’t your style, Florida can still be a beautiful stop for your trip. Head to the Everglades to see a unique ecosystem (and alligators). You can take an airboat ride to search for wildlife and get once-in-a-lifetime photos. Or, head to Key West for the incredible nightlife and key lime pie.
Photo courtesy of @valentinarouillier
New Orleans is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, with unique and interesting culture. And it’s nightlife is second to none. During the day, take a walking door to see the historical buildings and incredible architecture. At night, head to Bourbon Street to hit the dance floor or listen to live jazz.
Photo courtesy of @toshi_tripmonkey
If you love the outdoors and hiking, Minnesota provides over 1,000 miles of walking trails through scenic parks.
For animal lovers, you can visit the International Wolf Center in Ely. The organization does research on wolves’ health and behavior and educates the public about wolves’ biology, behavior and the threats they face today. And of course, you can see real wolves in various habitats, including Arctic wolves, Timber wolves and more.
Photo courtesy of @international_wolf_center
How to Save Money on Your Trip
While a road trip can be cheaper than other vacations, the cost of gas and meals on the road can add up. Try these tips to help you save money:
1. Take care of your car beforehand: Before kicking off your journey, make sure your tires are inflated to the correct level for maximum fuel efficiency. Taking in your vehicle for an oil change and a quick inspection can identify and prevent problems before they get too bad. That preparation can save you from breaking down on the side of the road and spending money on a tow truck and emergency repairs.
2. Download gas comparison apps: Apps like GasGuru can help you find the lowest gas prices near where you are. The savings can add up over the length of your trip. If you spot a great deal, stop and fill up even if you don’t need the gas at that moment.
3. Obey traffic laws: While it can be tempting to speed on the empty road, the risk isn’t worth it. Not only do you risk injuring yourself or others, but you could get pulled over and ticketed. A speeding ticket can cost you hundreds in fines.
4. Pack a cooler: Buying fast food and snacks on your trip might be your biggest expense. Make sure you pack a cooler, and stop at grocery stores to stock up on snacks and meals. Getting trail mix and water from the grocery store is typically much cheaper than buying food from a fast food place or tourist stop.
5. Bring a tent and sleeping bag: Instead of staying in a hotel, pack a tent and sleeping bag so you can set up camp in park areas. Most camping spots are free, while others charge a small fee. It’s not luxurious, but the experience can help give you a unique perspective and a chance to spend more time outdoors.
While the summer is winding down, there’s still an opportunity to have one more vacation before the summer’s end. If you use these tips, you can plan an inexpensive and memorable road trip throughout the country.
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