5 Frugal Tips to Save Money on Long Car Journeys

Save money on your long car journeys, have more money to spend when you arrive.

I don’t know about you but I used to dread long car journeys.

It wasn’t just the boredom of mile after mile of motorway or hour after hour in heavy traffic.

It was the money we would spend just getting from home to holiday. The feeling we were leaking money on the least enjoyable part of our holiday.

I’m all for spending money (wisely) whilst on holiday.

Having saved up you want to be able to enjoy your holiday by buying what you need and maybe a fair few wants thrown in.

But do you want to spend a whole pile of money just getting to your holiday destination?

Obviously if you love stopping off at the motorway service station and paying an absolute fortune for your fuel there, then fill your boots.

Alternatively use these tips and tricks to save money and have a more enjoyable start to your longed for holiday.

Want to know more about the frugal life? Read all about how fabulously frugal people live their lives:

What Fabulously Frugal People ALWAYS Do To Organize Their Finances

15 Things Fabulously Frugal People NEVER Do Organizing Their Finances

7 Simple Tips of Fabulously Frugal People to Live a GREAT Life

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5 Frugal Tips to Save Money on Long Car Journeys


When you are on a long car journey it’s important to keep your fluids up especially if its a hot day.

Bring your own delicious coffee or tea in a travel flask to keep it hot. You know exactly how you like your tea and who wants to pay £2.50 for one tea bag?!

I’ve used this flask for 6 years, daily at work and on every walking trip. It keeps my tea super hot for hours.

If you’re not organised and rely on buying drinks at the motorway service stations you can easily spend £10 or more just for 4 drinks.

If you buy yourself a cold drink it will be in a plastic bottle.

We are all trying to do our bit for the environment these days so bring your own cold drinks in reusable bottles.

Drinking a good amount of liquid also helps to ensure you stop regularly to take a comfort break.

As a driver you need regular breaks so drink your home brought drinks and keep yourself safe.

Related reading: How to save money on your next road trip

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Healthy Food

I don’t know about you but I find long car journeys boring. And when I am bored I eat.

Given you are sat down you’re not exactly burning the calories so eating more than you would normally is not a good thing.

The food available in service stations is better than it used to be but it is still mainly fast food.

 Fast, unhealthy, highly calorific food. And expensive. You can easily walk away £20 lighter and a 1000 calories heavier.

If you are wondering, I am writing this on the 2nd day of a diet so am just a little bit obsessed about calories!!

Bring your own food with utensils if necessary. Take a proper break at meal time.

Park up, get out and stretch your legs and sit down (in the car or on a picnic blanket) to a home prepared meal.

I often make up a fruit salad as an extra snack which we can all dip into with our forks.

Related reading: 40+ Cheap And Easy Savory Snacks To Make At Home

clsoe up of a straight road with mountains in the distance

Route Planning

Plan your route to avoid costly toll roads. I made the mistake once of not planning our route to The Lake District and we ended up on the M6 toll road.

£5.90 might not seem a lot but it was a completely unnecessary expense.

I have found that the road signs seem to deliberately lead you onto the toll roads.

It’s often difficult to work out where the alternative road takes you from the signs.

This can be especially true if you are driving in another country.

pale blue car on a windy road in the countryside

Off Peak Travel

Travelling in peak times and the rush hour can put a serious dent in your fuel consumption.

Driving through heavy traffic is boring and tiring and your wallet takes a hit from using extra petrol.

Planning your journey time to avoid the worst of the traffic allows you to get the best mileage from your fuel tank and it’s a more enjoyable experience.

When we drive up to the Lake District looking for our forever home we leave around 6am.

We are on the south coast so the motorways between us and Birmingham are chock full of traffic by 7.30am.

Getting past the worst motorways means we are ready for a break just as the traffic hits its peak.

That’s a great time to have breakfast and stretch our legs for a little.

Fuel Price Premium

If I ever have to fill up with fuel at a motorway service station I feel like I’ve been robbed.

The price difference between that and our local petrol station is staggering.

Last time I price compared I found a difference of 24p per litre. That’s £1.08 per UK gallon.

Filling up the night before you go means you can drive up to 600 miles before you need to refill.

That should get you most places in the UK as long as you haven’t been stuck in traffic for hours.

If you do need to fill up along your journey then use a fuel price finder to get the best deal.

It will mean coming off the motorway but combining it with a comfort break means you get to stretch your legs somewhere potentially a little more pleasant.

And save money on your fuel fill up at the same time.

Use PetrolPrices.com or Confused.com to find cheap prices wherever you are in the UK.

Related reading: 7 ways to save money on Gas

Long Car Journeys Made Cheap

To save even more money make sure any spending you do is on a cashback credit card.

And why not try driving for optimum fuel efficiency?

Its a different way of driving and takes a little getting used to, both for the driver and passengers.

Getting 20% more miles out of your fuel tank is a great saving whether you are doing long or short distances.

Mr Money Mustache calls it hypermiling and he summed up the driving style as:

If you have to brake you’ve made a mistake

Using these 5 frugal tips will help you save money and arrive at your holiday destination in a better mood.

There’s nothing like saving money to make you feel good!

For even more money saving tips check out my latest post on saving money on your road trip.

Do you have a travel tip to share? Have you tried hypermiling or singing the MMM song if you hit 75mph?

Start taking back control of your money by grabbing your copy of the Money Saving Starter Guide today.


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Such simple tips that will help me save money on my travels. Great frugal living tips and ways to save money on your car journeys and frugal holidays. #budgeting #roadtrip #carjourney #frugallifestyle #savingmoney #frugaliving
Frugal living tips and ways to save money on your car journeys and frugal holidays. Manage your money in the frugal way to stretch it further. Frugal lifestyle tips. #frugal #savemoney #budgeting #roadtrip #carjourney #frugallifestyle #savingmoney #frugaliving #frugaltips

I’m taking part in the Monday Money linky with Lynn from Mrs Mummy Penny and Faith from Much More With Less.

Last Updated on 4th April 2023 by Emma

About Emma

I'm here to help you become confident in making the best money decisions for you and your family. Frugal living has changed my life, let me help you change yours.

6 thoughts on “5 Frugal Tips to Save Money on Long Car Journeys”

  1. Nice! I loved roadtrips growing up but I wasn’t the driver 🙂
    We used to have all sorts of fun games in the backseat and picnics and little stops along the way.
    Ahh… to be young again!

    Now when I have taken roadtrips as an adult, I do tend to avoid peak times like holidays and rush hour…usually weekdays before 6a or after 6p… but it’s been awhile since I did any of that 😉

    • We drove to France every year when I was a kid so had the same, picnics, games etc. On a weekday if we are going away we’ll usually leave around 6-7am or after 8pm if venturing near London and the dreaded M25. Time you got back in your car at 6am MERJ! Sept is rapidly approaching and I want reports on your 5 weeks mini retirement!

    • London to Scotland could really rack up the costs so planning ahead will definitely save you money, and it will be more enjoyable!

  2. I will keep these tips in mind when I pack for a 670 mile trip from Washington to Nevada. We are actually going to try “car camping” to save money so we have more money to spend at our destination. Thanks for the article!

    • Now car camping is a new one on me, but I can definitely see the advantages of doing so. We’ve wild camped before which is lovely. Waking up in the middle of nowhere as the sun comes up – not much can beat that. Have a fab road trip!


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