Whether you are planning a weekend road trip or longer term travel adventure, finances are always on our minds. One of the questions often asked to seasoned travellers is how to make it easier on the wallet. What can I do to get costs down? Where can I buy cheap fuel? How can I save money travelling?
Here at VanLifeDiary we have put together a few ideas to help you reduce the cost of your travel.
Whilst we all know about fuel prices, are we really doing our homework before filling up? Some supermarkets will run initiatives to get you to buy fuel from them. While that is great news if you are doing a large shop, make sure you don’t buy unnecessary items to reach the total spend requirements. You could find you have spent out more than you saved at the end of the day!
Service stations and ‘last stop shops’ can get away with selling fuel at higher rates. Make sure you fill up when in towns were there is a bit more competition. Apps and websites like petrolprices.com are worth a look at too. They can tell you the prices of local stations before you set off. Keep an eye on prices as you travel and if you spot a good fuel bargain grab it. Pennies add up!
It’s handy to remember that not all petrol pumps are the same length too! When in Newquay I drove to a petrol station and there was a queue for cars on one side. Trying to be clever I attempted to fill up by dragging the fuel hose around to the other side of the van. I have done this in countless petrol stations before but this time it backfired and wouldn’t reach. Rather embarrassed I left that garage and ended up paying an extra 5p per litre!
Make sure that you look after your motor. Ensuring that you have checked your vehicle over before setting off on long journeys will hopefully stop the car from breaking down on the motorway. Nobody has time for that and it can ruin a really good holiday. If you don’t have breakdown cover you could be charged a hefty amount to get towed off of the motorway.
Current Government legislation advises that you could be charged anywhere from £150 for a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes MAM upright and not substantially damaged up to £300 if its not upright and has sustained heavy damage. For larger vehicles this cost rises quickly into the thousands. Another option would be to ring a breakdown company at the roadside and enter into a contract with them. This will usually incur fees for an immediate removal of your vehicle.
Ensuring your tyres are correctly inflated can help save money travelling. The more surface area that is coming into contact with tarmac, the more effort it takes to move. Fueleconomy.gov can explain how much you could save. Remember that your tyres will also wear out quicker if not properly inflated. Mythbusters and other popular mechanics did debunk the myth that you could save even more by over inflating the tyres. Before you get any clever ideas there is a very high likelihood that this could blow your tyres out. This will cost you more money (or cause an accident). You would end up shelling out for new tyres and a few hundred quid to get towed off the motorway!
Don’t forget to check the other essentials such as oil, water, windscreen wash and windscreen condition for chips. Also check your lights and a have a tool kit containing a warning triangle and hi-viz jacket as well as spare bulbs and fuses. This can really help save money travelling long term rather than instant saving.
Unexpected stops in a pay and display can quickly eat away at your spare change. Paying the equivalent of your mortgage or first born child’s college fund is never fun so here are a few ideas to ‘curb’ your outlay.
Use an app such as justpark or yourparkingspace and pay less to park on peoples driveways. Initiatives like these are popping up all over the place, and while a good way to save some money there are also a few stories out there where people have arrived to find they can not use the spaces they have booked. We have not used this service ourselves so can not give a personal recommendation but it is always worth doing your own research and not taking my word for anything!
Parkopedia is another parking app that tells you about prices and location in order to get the best price for a car park – it might mean an extra 5 minute walk but if saves a few quid each time it can have a huge impact on your budget. If you are driving a van like me, you also need to be mindful of height restrictions – google can sometimes help with this but you can always call the bigger car park companies to find out before you drive there.
If you know where you are travelling to in advance, why not join the local facebook page and ask the locals for areas to park for free, they will know the layout and may have some preferred back roads where you can park freely and without time restrictions. It can be harder in a town but not impossible.
If you are up for a bit of exercise why not park a bit further out of town and cycle in. its a good way to keep fit, reduce your carbon footprint and see the sights a little slower.
We hope that this information will help you save money. Feel free to send it towards our cheese and cider fund.
Part of our #Vanlife Guides Series. Click here for more helpful information.