Woman dining outside a beautiful camper van on the beach

How to Plan a Road Trip on a Budget

Budgeting for a road trip is essential to ensure you have a stress-free journey and can fully enjoy the adventure ahead. In this guide, we’ll show you how to budget for and plan a road trip, with a special emphasis on using a camper van for your epic adventure. Let’s get started and discover some practical tips and road trip essentials to make your journey smooth and cost-effective.

White camper van on the road during an Arizona sunset

Where Should You Start When Planning a Road Trip?

When you plan a road trip, it’s important to have a clear starting point with a map of your route and various destinations or stopping points along the way. Once you’ve decided this, there are several costs to consider. Here are the key factors to include in your road trip budget:

  • Fuel
  • Food & Drink
  • Tolls
  • Accommodations
  • Entertainment/Activities
  • Unexpected Costs

Some of these costs can be easily managed when you rent a van for a road trip.


Fuel costs can eat into your road trip budget, but with a little planning, you can mitigate the impact. Fuel expenses will largely depend on the distance traveled, the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and gas prices at the time. Start by researching the average gas prices in the states you’ll be traveling through. Look for opportunities to fill up in states where gas prices are more affordable. 

If fuel efficiency is a priority for you, consider renting a van with good mileage for your road trip. RAM ProMasters are great for city driving and get 25 mpg, but when they hit the highway, the efficiency drops to 18-19 mpg. Mercedes-Benz Sprinters have more efficient diesel engines, but the cost of diesel fuel is often more expensive. For example, the Storyteller Overland Beast MODE will get you 21 mpg in a city and 25 mpg on the highway. This would be a great choice for a trip to Utah where diesel fuel is currently cheaper than gas.

Two delicious-looking sandwiches on a cutting board inside a camper van

Food & Drink

Delicious meals and refreshing beverages are road trip essentials, but eating and drinking on the road can quickly add up. Food costs will vary depending on whether you choose to dine out at restaurants, cook meals in your accommodation, or opt for a combination of both.

While dining out can quickly drain your budget, a road trip van rental offers the benefit of a kitchen on wheels. Equipped with all the road trip essentials such as pots, pans, bowls, and more, you can whip up your favorite dishes in breathtaking locations, savoring both the taste and the savings. Plan your grocery shopping in advance and ensure that your belly and wallet stay full. On average, individuals can spend between $30 to $70 per day on food.


Depending on the states you’ll be visiting, toll roads might be a factor to consider. When you plan a road trip, make sure to research the toll costs and plan accordingly. You can even find toll calculators online to help you estimate these expenses accurately.


The search for a cozy place to rest your head can eat into your budget. Lodging expenses can range from camping fees at national parks or budget-friendly campsites to hotel stays at mid-range or luxury accommodations. Camping can be more cost-effective, with fees typically ranging from $10 to $40 per night, while hotel stays can cost anywhere from $80 to $250 or more per night.

When you rent a van for a road trip, you can transform your travel experience by offering both transportation and cozy accommodations, all in one package. Rent a van for your road trip and say goodbye to expensive hotels and hello to cost-effective adventure. With countless affordable or even free camping sites to choose from, you’ll wake up to breathtaking views without breaking the bank.


Adventure awaits around every bend, but it’s essential to plan ahead when it comes to entertainment and activities. Costs can vary depending on your route and destination, so we encourage you to research and discover the exciting attractions along your road trip. Whether it’s exploring national parks, visiting quirky roadside attractions, or engaging in thrilling outdoor adventures, plan accordingly and allocate funds for these incredible experiences. Your road trip budget and memory bank will thank you later.

Unexpected Costs

Ah, the joy of the unknown! While we can’t predict every detour or surprise, it’s wise to expect the unexpected and have a little wiggle room in your budget. Be it a necessary vehicle repair or an impromptu opportunity you can’t resist, allow yourself some flexibility to handle those unplanned expenses. We recommend using a road trip cost calculator to get a comprehensive overview of your expenses. Road trip cost calculators help provide a transparent perspective of your travel costs so you can even plan for the unexpected. Stay prepared, stay flexible, and enjoy the adventure that unfolds.

How Much Does a Cross-Country Road Trip Cost?

The cost of a cross-country road trip in America can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the duration of the trip, the chosen route, accommodation preferences, dining choices, and the level of entertainment and activities. On average, travelers can expect to spend anywhere between $3,000 to $7,000 or more for a cross-country road trip.

And as mentioned above, when you plan a road trip across America with a camper van, utilizing a road trip cost calculator is a great way to ensure your budget stays aligned.

Ultimately, the cost of a road trip can be tailored to fit your preferences and budget. By planning ahead, researching cost-effective options for lodging and dining, and being mindful of your entertainment expenses, you can embark on a memorable journey while keeping your costs within a reasonable range.

Camper van driving through gorgeous yellow trees on a fall day.

What Do You Need for a Van Road Trip?

When you’re ready to rent a van for a road trip, you’ll be delighted to know that everything you need is already included. Simply pack your personal items, such as clothes and toiletries, grab your groceries, and pick up your friends and family. Let’s take a look at what your road trip van rental includes with GoCamp:

  • Eating & Drinking: We’ve got you covered with plates, bowls, cups, and silverware—all neatly packed inside the van. Setting the table for a delicious meal is as easy as opening a cabinet.
  • Cooking: You’ll find pots, pans, a kettle, colander, cutting board, and even quality sharp knives. With these tools at your disposal, you can easily whip up a fantastic meal. But remember to stop by a grocery store on your way out of town to grab some ingredients.
  • Sleeping: Get ready for a comfortable night’s sleep. Our vans include bedding essentials such as pillows, comforters, blankets, and towels.
  • Camping: To enhance your camping experience, our vans also come with a small camp table, chairs, lanterns, and other camping items. Just bring along your personal items, like that book you’ve been dying to read or a bottle of wine for dining under the stars.

Where to Rent a Camper Van for a Road Trip

When it comes to renting a van for your road trip, GoCamp is the ultimate source. As passionate road trippers ourselves, we understand the thrill and excitement of exploring the open road. With a wide range of meticulously maintained and well-equipped camper vans, we offer a seamless rental experience that guarantees peace of mind and a memorable adventure. At every step of the way, we’ve made sure that your camper van road trip is hassle-free and packed with convenience. So leave the worries behind and let our camper vans become your perfect travel companion.

Tips for a Budget-Friendly Road Trip

Here are some additional tips to help you stick to your road trip budget:

  1. Plan your route in advance to optimize travel time and minimize unnecessary expenses.
  2. Utilize travel apps and websites to find the best deals on accommodations, activities, and even fuel prices.
  3. Pack essential items such as snacks, water bottles, and a first aid kit to avoid unnecessary expenses along the way.
  4. Research free or low-cost attractions and events happening in the areas you’ll be visiting.
  5. Consider alternative accommodation options like camping, staying with friends or family, or using home-sharing platforms.
  6. Set a daily spending limit and track your expenses to help you stay on top of your budget.
  7. Be flexible and open to adjustments in your itinerary to take advantage of last-minute deals or unexpected opportunities.

By incorporating these strategies into planning a road trip, you can enjoy an amazing adventure while keeping your budget in check. Additionally, choosing a road trip van rental offers a cost-effective solution that provides not only transportation but also accommodation and cooking amenities to enhance your road trip adventure. So start planning, budget wisely, and get ready for an incredible road trip experience.

And when you’re ready to book your road trip with your carefully planned budget, get started here!