back to articles | April 10, 2023 | Greg Thibodeau

Categories:   Useful Automotive Information   

9 Road Trips for Those on a Budget

Plan a road trip on a budget, and don’t let your limited bank account stop you from having your next great adventure.

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Rising gas prices may make you think a road trip is out of the question this year. However, this would be wrong! Instead, you just need to plan carefully and choose a road trip itinerary that takes you through some of America’s most affordable areas. When you road trip on a budget, you see a new perspective of America.

1. Route 66

There was a time when Route 66 was the main corridor to America’s west coast. Today, traveling down this iconic highway is more like an adventure through history. Because it is no longer the main roadway to the west, it is less traveled. This also makes it more affordable and perfect for a road trip. There are plenty of free and cheap things to do along the way. While Route 66 runs from Chicago, IL, to Santa Monica, CA, you don’t have to drive the entire highway to experience this little piece of vintage Americana.

2. Going-to-the-Sun Road

See the part of America that lacks major metropolises and people. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50-mile highway that takes you through Glacier National Park in Montana. You will see plenty of wildlife as you make your way. Stop at Logan Pass for a relaxing break and a bite to eat. Get beautiful photography of St. Mary’s Lake from the Wild Goose Scenic Viewpoint. One thing to note, the weather is finicky, and the entire road is only open during specific times of the year.

3. The Blue Ridge Parkway

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Start in North Carolina and drive the 469 miles to the other end in Virginia. This highway doesn’t have any tolls and will take you deep into the valleys and high up to the mountain peaks. Depending on when you go, you could see lush forest greenery, colorful fall foliage, or bare branches that let you see for miles. Stop at the many small towns that each have a unique and sometimes quirky personality.

4. The GATOR (Gulf Alliance of Tourism Organization Representatives)

You probably haven’t heard of this affordable road trip route, but it is worth considering. Created by the Gulf Alliance of Tourism Organization Representatives, it runs along the Gulf Coast of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. This is an up-close experience of low country culture and hospitality. You can see the USS Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile, Alabama. There are swamp tours in Louisiana. The scenic highway of the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road offers stunning views. You could even time your road trip to be in New Orleans during some of the city’s biggest celebrations.

5. Park Loop Road

The Acadia National Park is a 47,000-acre area located in Main and coastal islands in the Atlantic. The park features a rocky beach coastline, glaciers, granite mountain peaks, and dense woodland. The Park Loop Road is one of just three major road systems on the island. It is only 27 miles, but it provides the best views and access to the popular areas. Check out the sand beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Jordan Pon, and Cadillac Mountain. If you need a leg stretch, park and explore the carriage roads either on foot or by bicycle.

6. Texas Hill Country

Texas is a huge state, so while driving the entire thing may not be in your budget, driving through hill country is. You will take Wildflower Loop, which starts in Austin and takes you out through Burnet and back to Austin. Plenty of affordable accommodations allow you to make the trip as quickly or slowly as your budget can accommodate. If you have extra time and money, add Fredericksburg to your road trip. There you can sip on world-class wine made in this great state.

7. Kentucky Bourbon Trail

If you love whiskey or bourbon, this is a great option for your next road trip on a budget. Although, you should never drink and drive, so you will need to plan your trip accordingly. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail lets you experience the Bluegrass state’s rich history and distilleries. There are 37 bourbon distilleries in total, but you can pick and choose the ones you want to visit. They all offer tours and tastings, giving you plenty of opportunities to find a new favorite spirit. Stay at small bed and breakfasts along the way, and choose the more affordable distilleries to stay within your budget.

8. Olympic Peninsula Loop

This 445-mile loop is perfect for nature lovers. Throughout your road trip on the Olympic Peninsula Loop, you will drive the perimeter of the Olympic National Park. You will see mountains, waterfalls, wildlife, tide pools, and snowcap peaks. With plenty of sightseeing viewpoints, you are sure to get plenty of breathtaking photos. Stop at the HOH rain forest to see moss-draped trees resembling a fairytale setting. When you need refreshments, enjoy the local produce and artisan wares from the small yet passionate farmers in the area.

9. Horseshoe Bend

You can get away on a road trip and have an epic adventure with a limited budget. You just need to plan your road trip to travel through America’s most affordable cities. These eight affordable road trips are gentle on your wallet while offering memorable experiences. What makes many of them stand out is their flexibility. You can customize your road trip to be shorter or longer to fit your budget.

Refinance your auto loan and make your monthly auto loan more affordable so you can have a bigger road trip budget.