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Plan Ahead to Cut Costs on Summer Road Trips

The Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends are behind us, but there's still plenty of time for a summer road trip. With higher gas prices, many consumers are looking for ways to save in other areas.
The Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends are behind us, but there's still plenty of time for a summer road trip. With higher gas prices, many consumers are looking for ways to save in other areas.

No tickets, no change fees, no security lines -- Americans love the flexibility of a road trip. But extra costs of hitting the highways can really add up.

"Obviously they're thinking that they're saving money but, they do tend to splurge and overdo it while they're on the road," says Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot.com.

Bodge says one major road trip expense can hit a waistline, and a bottom line - food.

"You get away from home and all those good health habits you may have been attending to during the winter all go by the wayside.  So it's really important to try stick to your diet and how you normally eat if you can," Bodge says. "Because those are really, they're wallet busters for everyone out there."

Plan ahead and choose restaurants you'll look forward to on a route. For the time in between pre-pack snacks.

Another overlooked expense- parking, especially in big cities. Research garages ahead of time, to find the best deal.

The same for hotels. A smartphone can help, even with unexpected overnight stays.

"Don't just stop at a hotel and hope that you're going to get a great deal, do a little digging.  You can do it while you know as a passenger in the car.  Do a little research and don't just pop into the next place that you can find, because you may tend to overspend there also." 

The other glaring expense on the road this summer: Filling up the tank. Apps like Road Ninja or Gas Buddy can locate the best gas prices along the way.


(Karin Caifa for CNN's Consumer Watch)


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