How Much Does a Month-Long Road Trip Cost?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

With more Americans looking to take their vacations on the road, you, too, might be wondering about the benefits of a road trip. Traveling in a camper van or the family SUV can be affordable and fun. But how much would a month-long road trip cost?

Here are some expenses to consider and what it might cost on average to take that month-long road warrior adventure.

Average road trip costs to consider

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To be as accurate as possible about the month-long costs of a road trip, it’s best to start with a list of expenses. And you’ll need to have a plan to map out where you’ll be heading. For example, a trip through some U.S. National Parks will be less expensive than a week of gambling in Las Vegas. Calculate your mileage and make sure you account for any lodging, attractions, souvenirs, and entertainment expenses at your various destinations.

Then there are the average costs of driving around for a month. You might be taking the family van, which might be cheaper than renting an RV for a month. But in either scenario, you’ll want to account for insurance. You’ll need fuel and maybe even an oil change along the way. And don’t forget to allocate funds for eating and snacking, too. 

Calculating fuel costs for your road trip is a great first step

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Desk to Dirtbag shared some of his sentiments regarding budgeting for a month-long road trip across the country. His month-long journey spanned 2,873.4 miles across Utah, through Las Vegas, and into California for an ultimate Pacific Coast adventure.

And he documented every penny that it took to see it all. To cover those miles, he spent $614.94 in gas, or about 27 percent of his monthly budget. His 1991 Toyota 4×4 got him everywhere he wanted to go at about 17 mpg. He calculated his average gas price was $3.66 per gallon, higher because of California gas prices at the time.

Before you embark on your road trip, you’ll want to project your potential fuel expenses. Experiment with your vehicle’s gas mileage. You can then divide the total miles driven by the cost of filling the tank to calculate your average cost per mile. But don’t forget, different driving conditions affect your car’s fuel efficiency. And prices at the pump vary across the nation. 

Affordability is relative

Taking a family road trip is likely cheaper than booking an all-inclusive trip with hotel stays and entertainment. But what’s affordable to some might still be too expensive for others.

Only you can decide which budget is feasible for your trip. But for the Desk to Dirtbag road trip, the couple spent $2,259.17 total for the month. Their trip averaged $37.56 per person per day.

Saving money where you can during your road trip

Be mindful, too, that you can find unique ways to trim costs along the way. Packing food to avoid pricey restaurants, for example, can significantly reduce per-person costs. And to help you discover the best gas prices on your route, you can download GasBuddy or other smartphone apps.

Finding cheap overnight lodging is also a great way to cut costs. For instance, planetary scientist Antonio Paris posted on Twitter that his epic 11,538-mile road trip last year cost only $2,443. He said he saved money by staying at free sites on U.S. Forest Service land.

When you think about the average cost of flying your family to Disney World, spending less than $3,000 for a month-long road trip might sound more appealing. Just take the time to plan and calculate the basics to ensure you have the budget to enjoy yourself.

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