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How to Prep Your Budget for a Summertime Road Trip

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Are you itching to get away this summer? A road trip is a fantastic way to explore the country. Whether it’s just around the state or a true cross-country trip, your summertime plans can be hard on your vehicle — and your budget, too.

Are they ready?

Check out this guide to help you get started. From safety checks to financial tips, here are some things you should consider before hitting the road.

Have an Emergency Plan

Once you’re behind the wheel, you’re in vacation mode. The last thing you want to think about is how a fender bender could put your car out of commission. But accidents are realities of the road, so it’s in your best interest to consider how you would handle these issues.

Before you leave home, get familiar with your insurance to understand what it will cover. For most people, it only makes sense to get your insurance involved when an accident leads to costly property damage or medical expenses.

An emergency fund is better for smaller repairs, not to mention out-of-pocket deductibles if insurance is necessary. Having some cash set aside makes any unexpected challenge a little bit easier, even if it isn’t car related.

If you don’t save before things go sideways, you may have another option. Online installment loans are like the spare tire of your financial toolkit. While you shouldn’t regularly rely on installment loans online, they’re good backup in case something goes wrong.

Know Your Roadside Assistance

Another way you can be prepared for the unexpected is by having roadside assistance. A basic monthly membership to the AAA comes with some pretty impressive perks:

  • Service calls
  • Towing
  • Emergency fuel delivery
  • Extrication service
  • Lock & key service

The AAA is also a great source for essential road trip resources, like tour books and maps.

Drive Safely

While you can never predict what will happen on the road, you can control how you react to things. Whether it’s an aggressive driver weaving between lanes or a blustery summer thunderstorm, defensive driving can help you avoid accidents. Proper driving etiquette can even save you some money.

  • Drive the appropriate speed for the road and weather conditions
  • Give every vehicle a generous cushion
  • Follow all speed laws, adjusting for road work
  • Avoid jackrabbiting by starting or stopping abruptly
  • Reserve gas by driving 55 mph on highways — it’s more fuel-efficient than 65 or 75 mph

Service Your Vehicle

Is your vehicle ready for its summertime trip? You can avoid costly breakdowns and other preventable roadside issues by taking your car into the shop before hitting the open road.

A tune-up is a regular maintenance procedure that makes sure all the systems in your car are working at their most efficient. Your mechanic will be able to catch any issues and make sure your car is running smoothly in time for your trip.

According to the AAA, routine maintenance costs about $0.09 per mile. That’s nearly $1,000 in maintenance for someone who drives roughly 10,000 miles a year.

If you struggle to cover these tune-ups upfront, try putting away a bit of money each month into savings. You won’t have to skip on necessary emissions tests, oil changes, and other maintenance. You would only have to save around $83 every month for the AAA’s estimated costs.

The Takeaway:

As much as you would like to jump in your car and see where the road takes you, your vehicle and budget deserve some planning. Take some time to prepare your finances and vehicle for this trip.

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