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8 Ways to Save and Be Safe on Your Road Trip

Realize your travel dreams safely and economically.


Road trips can be inspiring experiences, filled with adventure, spontaneity and fun times with those you care about.

In many ways, road trips are an essential part of the American Dream. After all, you’re pursuing the freedom to go where you want, when you want, on your own terms.

To get ready for your next road trip, here are eight steps for staying safe and saving money.

  1. Prep Your Ride: Check your lights, wipers, oil and air filters, battery, belts and fluids (oil, coolant, transmission, power steering and windshield washer) to make sure they’re road-ready. Ensure your tires have good treads and are properly inflated.
  2. Pack First Aid and Emergency Kits: Bring first aid items, and put together an emergency road kit including a warning light or flares, jumper cables, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, motor oil, gloves, basic tools (pliers, screwdrivers, adjustable wrench), tire inflators and duct tape.
  3. Buckle Up, Check Car Seats: Always keep your seat belts fastened when you’re on the road. If you have little ones, make sure your car seats are the right size, up-to-date and installed correctly. For guidance, check the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s Car Seat safety website.
  4. Stay Awake and Alert: Be well-rested before you get behind the wheel, and don’t drive if you’re sleepy. Switch with another driver every few hours, if possible. Don’t use your cell phone while driving – keep focused on the road.
  5. Be Fuel-Efficient: Don’t drive aggressively! All of that repeated sharp braking can cut highway mileage efficiency by a third. Too much speed is costly, too. Every 5 mph you drive above 50 mph is like paying an extra 24 cents a gallon. Avoiding aggressive, speedy driving is safer, too.
  6. ‘Appy’ Trails: Apps and websites can help you find good deals on gas (GasBuddy,, hotels (Kayak, HotelTonight) and restaurants (Foursquare, Groupon).*
  7. Be a Smart Saver: Check local newspapers for coupons. Stick to a daily budget, especially when it comes to dining. Use memberships in organizations to get discounts.
  8. Timing is Everything: Traveling during off-peak times and avoiding holidays helps you avoid higher hotel rates. Some hotels offer discounted rates for last-minute bookings, although that can backfire in popular places where rooms are scarce.

Want more road trip tips? Check out our “Dreaming of the Road” e-book.

*American Family Insurance does not endorse or assume responsibility for the use of any apps or websites referenced here.

Check out these related resources:

Auto Insurance Products

Certified Repair Program

Emergency Roadside Service