Travel For Students: Planning A Cheap Road Trip

Planning a road trip? This can be expensive, especially for a student, but there are ways to cut costs!

For a student, a road trip is like a rite of passage; proof positive that one can not only arrange and carry out a vacation without their parents, but have almost complete freedom of movement at the same time. The main appeal of such a trip is that it is relatively unplanned - however, in order to get the most out of your time and money, it's best to know some basics about what you'll need for your journey.

The obvious factor is, of course, a car. Quite a few things need to be taken into consideration, in particular the number and ages of drivers and the age of the car itself. If you drive, you should already know that it can be a hassle to temporarily insure someone on your car, in particular if you are under 25. Typically students also drive older or second-hand vehicles that may become troublesome when traveling long distances. If your car is more than seven years old, your insurance rates are high, or you do not have your own vehicle, you may want to consider renting one.

Rentals can be tricky, depending on your age. Some companies will not rent a car to a driver under the age of 23 or even 25. More often than not an underage driver will have to pay as much as double the cost in order to insure themselves on a rental car. However, keep in mind that even overpriced insurance of this type will be highly beneficial if you break down halfway across the country or are in an accident in an unfamiliar city. Rentals are not unaffordable by any means if you research carefully - in the end, the peace of mind is worth the extra money.

Before renting a car, remember that there are more restrictions placed on you than in your own vehicle. Some companies will not allow you to take a car across the border, so if you are planning a trip into Canada, ensure the rental company will permit this. Some companies also discourage long trips in their cars and many will charge you by the mile or kilometre, an amount which can add up extremely quickly on a cross-country trip. Never, ever rent a vehicle you must pay by the mileage for - it will only add unecessary stress and cost to your vacation.

Look for deals when you are renting your car. Weekend or week-long deals happen often and by keeping an eye on the website of your chosen rental company you can sometimes get a discount price and still rent far in advance. When booking the car, pay attention to the dates to ensure that you will get the most inexpensive rate - often, adding extra time to make your trip an even week or two weeks long will save you money.

When planning the dates for your trip, keep in mind the amount of time the driver or drivers need to spend sleeping. Driving all night on an unfamiliar highway can be dangerous even if it saves you a little time. Try to have at least two drivers and two navigators so they can switch off, and bring camping gear if necessary. Pull over and nap or check into a hotel to rest up and ensure that at least one person is awake at all times with the driver while on the road. Before you leave you may be able to pick up a student discount card that will allow you to get lower rates at hotels - don't be afraid to spend a little money on recuperating.

Gas is always a major concern on a road trip. The tank should be constantly full, in particular if you're in a state that generally has low gas prices. You will find that prices fluctuate all over the country, so if you see a low price, stop and fill up rather than paying extra in the next city you pass through - or worse, running out completely. If you are traveling to or from Canada or Mexico, try to purchase gas on the American side of the border.

Tolls will be frequent on interstate highways. A fair amount of change and bills alike should be kept in the front area of the car so you can pay tolls quickly, but, if possible, avoid toll highways altogether. Shearing a half hour off your travel time usually is not worth the money you will have to put into tolls. Many maps will indicate which highways will cost you and which will not - look these over well before you turn onto them.

Other costs that you may not expect will always pop up, so be sure to have emergency cash ready. Detours, ferries, traffic, whims and bodily needs will constantly slow you down - remember that if you worry too much over these things, the trip will be less enjoyable. You will probably get lost and other drivers will doubtlessly frustrate you. Don't stress! Stay focused and alert and you'll have a good time with little or no trouble. The best part about a road trip is that is it not set in stone, so relax and enjoy!

© High Speed Ventures 2011