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7 money-saving strategies for your next road trip

Heading on a cross-country roadtrip with friends can be an incredibly exciting vacation experience: You can visit a variety of places, take in the varying scenery of this big, beautiful nation and sample unique regional cultures. In addition to being a whole lot of fun, hitting the open road can end up being costly. After all, although people tend to view road trips as a cheaper vacation alternative, between gas, motels, food and attraction fares, the expenses can pile up.

Thankfully there are a number of simple ways to save money on your next cross-country jaunt. Check out the list of seven effective money-saving strategies below:

1. Get your car checked out
Breaking down on your road trip, or worse, getting into an accident, could be extremely costly and not to mention dangerous. The best way to avoid these unnecessary issues is to prevent them from happening in the first place. As Business Insider advised, the best prevention strategy is to have a professional or trust-worthy family member or friend check that the car is in working order. Also be sure to complete tasks such as refilling the oil if necessary and checking to see if the tires are fully inflated. And if you don't have a spare tire in your trunk, be sure to grab one before you head out.

2. Plan ahead
Planning is key to ensuring that you keep your expenses down. If you wing it, you'll likely end up spending more. Create a daily itinerary and plan out where you are going to stop each night to stay and eat. If you book motel rooms ahead of time you'll likely get a better deal. Business Insider also advised that your smartphone can help with the planning - there are apps that allow you to plan all the details of your vacation in one convenient place! Money Crashers elaborated that there are also useful websites that can be used to help plan the route - Yahoo Trip Planner and MapQuest, to name a few.

3. Use phone to save on gas
Arguably one of the most costly components of your roadtrip will be the gas. Thankfully there are ways to save on gas using your smartphone, Bankrate reported. There are websites and apps that use GPS tracking to find the closest and cheapest gas stations in your area, so you'll never have to spend more than you need to.

4. Bring your own supplies
Stopping at gas stations each day for snacks adds up. U.S. News & World Report advised bringing your own supplies instead. Go to your local discount store and stock up on essentials such as bottled water, chips and candy. You could even make a couple of days' worth of sandwiches. Just throw it all in a cooler and some bags and you'll be good to go.

5. Find cheap or free things to do
Another thing that can create a dent in your wallet is entertainment on the way. Theme parks, water parks, must-see attractions - they can all have hefty entrance fees. That's why, as Money Crashers argued, it's a good idea to research free or cheap attractions ahead of time online. National parks, museums and galleries, for example, are typically inexpensive and can provide an exciting cultural experience. The source elaborated that a number of attractions will also offer deals and discounts online, while some museums may even have times of day that are free entry. The key is to plan ahead when possible, and take any coupons you can find and make a note of any special deals. Also keep in mind that more free events are available in the warmer months, so to try to avoid planning your trip for the winter, if possible.

6. Ask for discounts
If you're entitled to a discount, be sure to ask for it. Whether you're a student, senior citizen or member of the military or local law enforcement, small discounts can add up and help reduce the overall cost of your trip.

Opinion Outpost can help
If you're looking to save some extra money for your trip, simply sign up with Opinion Outpost. You'll be paid to take surveys, from the comfort of your own home. It's that simple. Check out the website to learn more.

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