It’s summer time, and to me, summer means it’s time to go on road trips. Windows rolled down, radio turned up, and the destination planned out. The whole point of a road trip? The journey of getting there should be as fun as the destination!

But what happens if you’re on a budget? Are cheap road trips even possible!?

Fear not, fellow road trip fan! I have four great ways to go on a road trip without having to empty your bank account…

Find a National Park

1. Drive Towards a National or State Park

Clicking the above image will take you to the United States National Park Service website park finder, giving you an opportunity to find national parks around you.

A great way to find state parks is by going to Google Maps and simply searching “state park.” Voila! I consider myself pretty well-versed when it comes to nature attractions and places to check out near me, but there are quite a few spots that pop up that sound amazing and that I’ve never heard of before! Pick a place a couple hours or more away and boom, awesome road trip.

Plus, you don’t tend to spend a lot of money at state parks. You may need to purchase a pass or pay for parking, but the wonder of nature is absolutely worth the price.


2. Find a Legendary Food Spot

I’m a sucker for really good granola. And I’ve heard great things about Marge Granola. So, I took a look on their website about their locations to purchase their granola and stumbled across a fun sounding place called Darvill’s Bookstore in a place I’ve never heard of, Eastsound. Bingo! A road trip to an unfamiliar place…let’s do this!


That could be tricky.
In all seriousness, do some research on your favorite foods. Maybe a spot in the middle of a forest has the best ice cream cones. Or a barista in an undiscovered city pulls the best espresso shots.

Find a reason to get out there and go for it!

Lake Nowhere

3. Bodies of Water Are Lots of (Cheap) Fun

One of the best things about bodies of water, whether a river, the ocean, or a lake, is that it doesn’t cost a lot to have fun there. Often, it doesn’t cost anything at all! Go for a swim if it isn’t pass√© (and make sure it’s safe!), or just enjoy the serene beauty of nature.

Bonus points if you have a four-legged friend: dogs LOVE water! Road trip with your dog to a river and you’ll have a great time!

Lincoln Memorial

4. Take Advantage of the “Free Stuff”

Going to Washington D.C. is my most expensive “cheap” vacation. Granted, a lot of money was spent on travel, lodging, and dining, but it’s a great example of being able to take advantage of the “free stuff.” Washington D.C. is full of different places to check out! And the best part? Many are for free! You could spend days wandering the National Mall, from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, the places to check out are endless.

And while many other places don’t offer as many places to check out as DC, you can find certain things wherever you go! One of the places I recommend people visit when in the beautiful Pacific Northwest is the Columbia River Gorge. And one of the reasons (aside from its incredible beauty) is that there are a ton of free things to do! Visiting little towns, checking out funky monuments, taking pictures at scenic stops; the Gorge has it all.

Find your Gorge and take a trip this summer!

Comment below: what’s the *best* road trip you’ve ever taken?

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