Inflation affects so much of what we do. Prices for goods and services are up 4.9% compared to this time last year, making shopping for necessities much more expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that when it came to transportation spending, the amount that households are spending on gas jumped 72% percent from 2021 to 2022.
Even with the difficulties that inflation presents, many families are still planning to travel and take road trips this summer. If you want to join them, being mindful of how quickly travel costs can add up with the rise of inflation and adopting practices that ensure they don’t get out of hand is critical.
These tips will help you cut costs on your family road trip and ensure inflation isn’t the reason you have to postpone.
You can’t afford to be frivolous with your money during inflation. So, planning out your road trip is essential. You can price-check everything beforehand to help you create a budget for your trip. You can also ensure you’re taking the most cost-effective, fuel-efficient route.
As you are planning your route down with your spouse and children to get an idea of when they want to leave and return, and what they want to do. For instance, California has many natural wonders that would be great to visit on a road trip.
You can also introduce the idea of going camping instead of staying at hotels. Spending time in nature can reduce stress, increase feelings of happiness, and support physical fitness. In fact, many doctors are prescribing outside time for their patients to treat various physical ailments and symptoms of mental health challenges.
So, you’ll save some money and support your and your family’s holistic health. If you do choose this option, make sure to plan for sustainable camping. This means packing reusables over single-use items, and leaving no trace when you leave campgrounds.
You can also choose to use sustainable travel methods at your chosen destination, including walking, biking, and hiking. When you considering how you will get to your intended travel location, consider taking a bus over flying, or choosing an electric vehicle over a gas-powered one. Making sustainable choices like these can save you money on fuel costs while saving the planet.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
If you haven’t caught on, the most important thing you can do as you travel during inflation is to keep costs in check. You need to know what your trip is going to cost you so you can create a realistic budget and not overspend.
Your budget should be based on the plan you created above. Account for the cost of activities, gas, transportation, food, and drink. Factor in how much you want to spend on shopping and an amount for emergencies.
Total this amount up, and that’s what you’ll want to save for your trip ahead of time.
Save For Your Trip Ahead of Time
It can be hard to save during inflation because most of us have to make our money stretch as long as it can. But it’s necessary if you want to go on a family road trip during this time.
Starting a savings plan well in advance of your trip makes it easier to accumulate the money you need to make it happen.
For instance, let’s say your road trip will cost you $5,000. Instead of waiting until the last minute and trying to save $1,000 a month for the five months leading up to your trip, save over a year. You cut your savings amount to less than half at $417 a month.
Give yourself as long as possible to save for your trip to ensure affording it doesn’t become stressful.
Make a Plan for Food and Drink Specifically
Having a plan for food and drink specifically is critical because prices for both are steadily on the rise during inflation. The prices consumers pay for food were up 7.7% in April 2023 compared to April 2022 and are expected to continue increasing slowly throughout the year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To combat rising food costs, a good first step is limiting how much you eat out at fast food or dine-in restaurants while on your road trip. Save going to restaurants for your final destination and only spend what you allotted in your budget.
For most of your trip, try to visit grocery stores. Yes, food prices are up. But you’ll be able to purchase more and it’ll last longer than fast food.
Purchasing food from grocery stores is not only easier on your wallet but can also support local farmers in your destination’s community. Buying food that is produced nearby is a much more sustainable practice as it reduces the carbon emissions associated with food transportation. Also, fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious food and drink items will give you and your family the energy and mood boosts you need to thoroughly enjoy your road trip.
In order to save money, shop with a specific amount of money each day. Do your best to get food for at least three meals and snacks for that day, if not for multiple days. Purchase a good cooler to ensure you keep your cold items at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. And pack non-perishable foods in the proper containers. All of this can go a long way toward keeping your travel enjoyable and well within your budget.
If you are joining some of the 85% percent of Americans who are planning to travel this summer, you can beat inflation by doing your due diligence. By properly planning ahead of time, sticking to a budget, and traveling in a way that emphasizes sustainability, you can have the journey of a lifetime without breaking the bank.