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How to Save Money While on a Road Trip

Avoiding Toll Roads on a Road Trip
Skip the toll roads to save money on your trip.
Skip the toll roads to save money on your trip.

Americans' ancestors dumped tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation. Now you too can stick it to the man by eschewing toll roads for more scenic routes. Tolls can be a significant road trip expense. Those of us unaccustomed to paying tolls will receive a rude shock when we reach for our customary .50ยข at a toll like the Delaware Turnpike. That particular toll fee has risen to $4!

Why pay tolls when a myriad of new technologies make it a cinch to avoid them? Here are just a few technologies for a toll-free trip:

  • Internet Mapping Sites: Avoid tolls with the check of a box on Internet mapping sites like Google Maps, MapQuest and others. Just input your start and ending destinations, click "Show Options" (Google) or "Driving Options" (MapQuest) and check the box to exclude toll roads.
  • Automobile GPS Systems: Whether your car came with a GPS unit or you purchased yours from a third-party manufacturer like Garmin or Motorola, most modern GPS systems allow drivers to program routes based on avoiding toll roads.
  • Phone Apps: Printed MapQuest directions tend to get sat upon, lost or covered in chocolate fingerprints on road trips, and not everyone can afford a fancy GPS system. Luckily, your smartphone puts GPS and Internet mapping in the palm of your hand with a myriad of phone applications, many of which enable the ability to program or seek out routes that avoid toll roads.
  • Maps and Guidebooks: If new-fangled technology fails you, many printed atlases, guidebooks and maps mark toll routes. With a little ingenuity and a sharp pair of eyes, you should be able to map out a toll-free route easily to almost any destination.

Now that you've saved money getting to where you're going, let's talk about how to pinch pennies once you arrive. Free places to stop on road trips are up next.