I recently took a road trip up to see some friends that were nearly six hours away. It was a couple I had been meaning to visit for months but the distance was just too far for me to want to drive alone, finding the time when I could have someone watch my son and the money in just the trip itself. We all have friends that we would love to see. You talk here and there and always say, “I’ll come see you soon.” But different deterrence’s always delayed that road trip: time and money being the big two. Well, I can’t fix your time but here are some hints in bringing the cost of your road trip down.

First and foremost, the easiest way to get the cost down is by dividing it, so invited a friend along. We both had talked about seeing the couple and this provided the perfect opportunity. Not only did this reduce the cost of the trip but it also provided an extra driver so that I didn’t have to drive it alone. This means the time will pass by quicker and all prototypical bills like gas get divided by 2.

The next easiest thing is to bring your own snacks and drinks for the ride up there and back. Fast food places make huge margins for a reason. Buying soda, water, and road trip snacks will take a huge expenditure out of the trip. Next comes figuring out eating arrangements once you’re at your destination. Call ahead of time and talk to the party you’re going to be visiting, see if you can sleep on the couch or if they have a spare bedroom. This will cut out the costs of a hotel. You can always use the excuse of, “This will give us more time to spend together!” Also coordinate food. Cooking in versus eating out is always a cheaper option. See if they will cook something while you’re visiting or suggest you all go out and buy the raw ingredients and make it a fun time. This, again, divides the food bill.

While you’re there, you’re going to want to hang out, but bars and movies are expensive forms of entertainment, so if you’re stringent on your budget, just go mall crawling to get out. You can always just window shop and you can enjoy a different environment. At home, you can play card games, dominos, or if board games are your style, try and bring some so that you’re constantly entertained. Maybe buy a movie that no one has seen out of the $5 or less dollar bin so you can all hang out.

These are just some of the things I did when visiting friends to reduce the cost of the trip. There are probably several other ways. Think of a few and pick a couple and be diligent in sticking to your budget. Friends last a lifetime and you should never let money be the reason you lose contact and don’t see your friends.

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