Save Money on an Ohio Road Trip

speedometer in black and blue

The grass is greener, the air is warmer and the kids are out of school. In short, it’s summertime. And summertime, for me, means one thing: road trips.

Okay, well summertime actually means a lot of things to me. It means trips to the pool, mowing the grass and vegetable gardening and it means time to take life just a little bit slower.

Save money on an Ohio roadtrip: Marblehead Lighthouse on the left of the picture is a white lighthouse with red trim. The lightkeepers white house is on the right side of the photo.
Ohio road trips can take you all over the state. Enjoy sunset at the Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie.

But I really get excited about road trips. And the more money you save on each trip, the more trips you can take! So today I wanted to take a look at some of the ways I’ve found to save money on an Ohio road trip over the years.

Road Tripping

For years we drove the kids all over the Midwest and South for sports. Would I do it again? I’ll be honest, I for sure don’t have that kind of energy any more. But the kids had a great time and, as a family, we got some great experiences out of it. Those are great memories.

A carnival tilt-o-whirl ride at night time taken on an Ohio road trip.
Summer road trips can take you to festivals all over the state, like the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival in the photo.

But I did have to get creative with the money and for a few years, think about every dollar we spent. One of our big expenditures with sports was the near every weekend road trip.

Savings on the Road: Gasoline

To start with, it seemed like a lot of our disposable income was going straight into the gas tank. Now, you’re not going to be able to save a lot here, but let’s take a look at some strategies to save a little.

Save money on an Ohio road trip and discover exciting views like this view of Cincinnati from the Roebling Bridge.
A view of Cincinnati, the Queen City, from the Roebling Bridge.

If you are able, try to put your road trip or travel expenses onto one credit card. You can do this on a gas company credit card or you can use a rewards Visa or Mastercard like I do. Either way, you’re going to get some cash or points back on your purchases, unlike if you were using cash or a debit card. Just make sure to pay off your balance every month before it accrues interest.

Grocery store loyalty cards are another way to save money on your gasoline expenses. Kroger and Meijer both offer such loyalty rewards. Kroger builds gasoline rewards up to $1 off a gallon through grocery purchases and prescriptions. Meijer rewards you for the same purchases, you just have to go to their website and assign your savings. You can use your rewards toward gasoline or groceries.

You can also look for some savings on the road using my husband’s favorite tool: the GasBuddy app. You just check in on the app when you need gas and it will tell you the station that has the cheapest price. Be sure to check ahead of time. Don’t wait till you’re running on fumes. The app relies on users to report gas prices, so it’s not always accurate, but he’s found it does save him a little here and there.

What to Drive

Before you take off on your road trip, you’ll want to find out if taking your daily driver is the cheapest option. In most cases, you’ll find that it is. But it’s always good to look at the alternatives.

The corkscrew roller coaster, a blue and track with white supports, at Cedar Point in Ohio.
Looking for an exciting road trip? Ride the corkscrew at Cedar Point!

Back when we hit the road every weekend with the kids and their sports, we found that it could sometimes be a savings to drive a rental car. How did paying money for a rental save us money?

Well, initially we were driving cars with high miles (think 150k plus). We weren’t ready to purchase a new car yet and we knew those extra miles could be the swan song on our daily drivers.

Later, when we were looking at cars to replace them we wondered into the big SUV and minivan section of the showroom. Now, we didn’t really need or want a vehicle as big as a school bus, but we were thinking about the trips we would take NOT our daily driving habits.

A tiger stands near the water at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
Let your Ohio road trip take you to one of our state’s fabulous zoos. The tiger above lives at the Columbus Zoo.

After we came to our senses, we started looking at smaller crossovers that would save us gas money on the daily drive and fit in our garage. It made sense to shop for the everyday, not the occasional trip.

In both of those cases it made sense for us to use a rental car. You’ll want to look at several factors here, including what you currently drive and how many miles you will be road tripping.

Getting the Most from your Rental

Either way, make sure you shop around for the best deal. I’ve found renting from the locations near the airport are usually cheaper.

Then make sure you’re hooked up with a good rewards program. Check your credit cards and see if they offer you special status or savings with one brand over another. They may offer you gold or presidential status which allows you to book a lower level car and trade up.

Save Money on an Ohio Road Trip

Summer road tripping can be amazing, but you don’t want to blow your entire budget. I wanted to offer you some of the savings strategies I’ve come up with over the years and through my many travels.

Two white barns, one painted for the Ohio bicentennial celebration and the other with the Bob Evans logo, are surrounded by green grass.
You can visit the original Bob Evans homestead in Rio Grande, Gallia County.

Check back frequently over the next few weeks. I’ll be sharing with you some of our tips to save money on an Ohio road trip, including savings on places to stay and what to eat. Eventually I’ll even offer some air travel tips, for when road trips don’t quite quench your thirst for travel.


Thanks for FindingOhio with us today. Road tripping is a fantastic way to explore the Buckeye state. Looking for great day trips? Check out the National Museum of the Air Force in the Dayton area. Looking for a different museum? Check out the National Maritime History Museum in the Toledo area. Looking for outdoor adventures? Take a safari through the African wilderness at The Wilds in Cambridge.

There’s so much to do and experience in Ohio. We appreciate you sharing our content to your social media. Together we can let everyone know that Ohio is a great place to live and explore!