Last Updated on January 21, 2021 by Caitlin

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How much does a summer road trip cost? Here’s how to figure out your expenses before you go so there are no surprises.

Even if you have your own vehicle, you may want to rent a car for your road trip for any number of reasons. Maybe your own vehicle has seen better days and you’re not sure if it’s up to many more miles. Or maybe it makes sense to start your road trip partway across the country, or perhaps you’d like the luxury of having more space for a long trip. Whatever the reason, you can plan ahead for the costs you’ll encounter on your road trip. Here are some of the main issues to keep in mind as you plan your route so you can predict costs.

Book your car rental and track your reservation.

You’ll want to book your rental car as far ahead as possible. When you ask AutoSlash for a quote, we search the Internet for the best deals, and we’ll factor in any memberships, rewards program or clubs that might offer an additional discount.

Then, be sure to ask AutoSlash to track your reservation. We’ll keep an eye out for price drops, so you can cancel your booking and re-book at a lower price if one becomes available. This is the very best way to make sure you don’t overpay for a rental car.

Know where you’ll get car rental insurance.

One surefire way to keep costs down is to avoid paying for over-the-counter car rental insurance if at all possible. If you own a car, your personal auto insurance is likely going to provide primary coverage, but always check to see what the limitations are before renting a car. This might affect the car category you choose in a rental car.>/p>

If you don’t have personal auto insurance, try to pay for the rental car with a credit card that offers robust car rental insurance. Confirm before you leave for your trip so you feel confident in your decision to decline or accept adding insurance at the rental counter. Keep in mind that if you opt for insurance at the counter, it will could significantly eat into your road trip budget.

Estimate how much you’ll pay in tolls.

Unless you’re happy sticking to backroads, you’re likely to encounter a few toll plazas on a long journey. Think through how you’re going to pay for tolls along the way, and use a toll calculator to estimate costs along your route. Now Waze also shows you the toll prices along your route so you can decide whether to take an alternative route.

If you a toll pass for your personal car, you may be able to bring your transponder on your trip and use it in your rental car. This can save a ton of money.

Otherwise, it’s almost always cheaper to buy your own transponder rather than using the rental car company’s transponder for a daily rate. You never want to go through an electronic toll plaza with no transponder at all, since you’ll end up not only paying the toll but hefty fines on top of that.

Find cheap gas.

When figuring out how much a summer road trip costs, don’t forget to factor in the price of gas.

GasBuddy scans your area for the cheapest fuel prices, and allows you to pay for gas with the app at certain locations. Plus, you can earn free gas and discounts by completing tasks like reporting prices you see on the road.

Waze provides accurate directions and real-time traffic updates as well as prices of fuel at gas stations near your planned route.