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Updated On: 03/28/2017 by Brian Eagen

Create a Road Trip Budget
Trip Cost Calculator

Budgeting for a road trip is one of the most overlooked tools for a successful and stress free adventure. Costs for the trip can be broken down into four main categories; gas, food, camping/lodging, and activity specific fees.

Gas is estimated by taking the total mileage (plus a little extra), dividing by your vehicle's miles per gallon, and multiplying by the current fuel costs.

We estimate food costs by taking the number of people times the number of days of the trip, and multiplying that by a daily food cost ($10 is an average amount if you are planning on making your own food).

Camping/Lodging (or lodging) is calculated by nightly fees times number of nights.

Activity specific fees include miscellaneous costs such as entrance fees, guide fees, trail permits, or other services.

Use this form to quickly calculate an estimated budget for your road trip. If something is unclear, hover over the (?) icon for a more detailed description. Then scroll to the bottom for some of my favorite tips to keep costs down!

Create a Budget for your Road Trip pano

Road Trip Cost Calculator

Miles Travelled (?)
+ Fudge Factor (?)
/ Miles Per Gallon (?)
x Cost per Gallon (?) Total Gas =$
Number of People (?)
x Number of Days (?)
x Daily Food Budget (?) Total Food =$
Park Entrance Fees (?)
+ Service Fees (?)
+ Activity Specific (?) Total Permits =$
Camp Site Fee (?)
x Number of Nights (?)
+ Hotel Room Fee (?)
x Number of Nights (?) Total Camping/Lodging =$
Unexpected Costs =$
Total Trip Cost =$
Cost Per Person =$
Print Your Budget
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Here are a five surefire tips to help you reduce the cost of your upcoming adventure.

  • 1) Camp for free. Most National Forest and BLM land can be used free of charge as long as you camp at least 100 ft from water sources and roads. This is called dispersed camping and is totally legal unless otherwise posted. Often times these free areas are very close to National Parks and other established campground.
  • 2) Focus on free activities. National Parks bring in contractors for various higher cost options such as horseback riding, climbing, and canyoneering. These can be great activities to participate in, but add a lot of cost quickly. In contrast, most backpacking permits are free.
  • 3) Bring a friend. Have room in your car? By splitting gas and camping, you can easily reduce the cost per person.
  • 4) Travel closer to home. Reduce your miles travelled (and gas usage) by choosing destinations near home. Also, instead of going six places cut it down to three or four, which gives you more time at each spot and less time spent in the car.
  • 5) Do your grocery shopping at home. Grocery stores are hard to come by near many parks, and are often expensive if you do find them. Pack as much food as you can before you leave, and only worry about perishables while on the road. Also, avoid eating out. Maybe a celebratory dinner the last night!
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