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Enjoy a frugal fall road trip

Road trips are a staple of autumn for many motorists. Fall foliage and moderate temperatures make the months of September and October ideal months to hit the open road for weekend getaways.

Fall road trips rarely take drivers too far away from home, but traveling can still be costly. Fortunately, there are many ways to make road trips more affordable without sacrificing fun.

• Explore alternatives to more traditional lodging. If your road trip includes an overnight stay, consider alternatives to traditional lodging. Hotels might stretch your budget, but depending on where you plan to go, you might have some less traditional alternatives. allows homeowners and even some apartment dwellers to rent their homes and apartments to travelers, and these listings may pale in comparison to rates offered by nearby hotels. If weather permits, look for local campsites and spend your nights sleeping outdoors under the autumn stars. If you prefer hotels, look for deals on sites like or, which may offer heavy discounts on rooms.

• Take steps to conserve fuel. Lodging might prove your biggest expense on a fall road trip, but fuel likely won’t be too far behind. Drivers can cut fuel costs in several ways. Before beginning your trip, take your car in for a tuneup so any issues that might affect fuel efficiency are addressed before you hit the open road. Poorly inflated tires force the engine to work harder and burn more fuel, so make sure tire pressure matches the levels recommended in your owner’s manual before embarking on your trip and even along the way if you feel your car is not running as smoothly as it could be. Another way to conserve fuel is to remove excess items from the trunk. If you don’t plan to hit the links on your trip, leave your golf clubs at home.

• Plot your route. Spontaneity may make fall road trips more fun, but drivers looking to save money should plot their routes in advance so they can avoid potentially costly problems like detours or road work that can waste fuel and lead to hours sitting in traffic. Use a GPS device during your trip so you can be alerted to any unexpected developments that might cost you time and money. Plotting your route in advance also allows you to find affordable dining and lodging options and choose roads that don’t require drivers to pay tolls.

• Invite some friends and family along. Inviting friends and family on a weekend getaway can make the trip more fun and more affordable. If you have room in the car, inviting friends along allows you to split fuel costs, and you may even save on lodging if you find a hotel that won’t charge for extra guests in the room. Friends and family also can help split the cost of supplies.

• Bring your own food. Food is another big expense road trippers must account for. But you can save money on food by bringing your own meals along on the trip. Prepare some sandwiches the morning that you leave and keep them fresh in a cooler so you don’t have to pay for lunch. In addition, pack some snacks so you and your passengers can quickly and affordably quell any hunger pangs that arise while you’re on the road. If you plan to stay in a place with its own kitchen, cook your own dinners so you don’t have to spend money dining out.

Road trips are a staple of autumn, when drivers can still enjoy the open road without breaking the bank.

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