Road trips are a firm favourite for holidaymakers who like to rent a car, take to the open road and explore a new area at their own pace. Road-tripping makes travelling according to your personal style and preferences possible, but it can also make you cash-strapped if you aren’t careful.

Picture the scene; You’ve just landed at your chosen destination, gathered up all your luggage and made your way to the Bidvest Car Hire outlet to collect your rental car.

In your haste to make your booking with Bidvest Car Hire, you forgot to plan for all the hidden fees – car seat, GPS, airport surcharges and insurance extras – ka-ching!  Hunger pains hit the kids as you leave the pick-up point and you head to the garage to get a few refreshments and snacks – ka-ching!As you drive to your designated hotel the kids are hungrier than you thought, so you stop along the way to try out an interesting looking restaurant which results in large meals and dessert for the kids – ka-ching!

Your hotel doesn’t offer bed and breakfast, so you stop en route the next morning at a service station where the kids see colouring-in books and toys that they absolutely “must-have” – ka-ching! Before you know it, your road trip could end up costing the same as a lavish 5-star holiday.

So, how do you avoid crippling your wallet while on a road trip? While it seems impossible to cut back on costs, it really isn’t. By being prepared for the journey and taking a few extra items along with you, you can avoid the mounting costs of those little “just because” purchases you make along the way.

10 Road Trip Must-Haves!

  1. A car mobile phone charger
  2. Have you ever been on a trip and found that your cell phone battery dies at the most inconvenient moment? It’s also not safe to travel in an unfamiliar area without some form of contact to emergency services or assistance. Make sure that you put a phone charger in the car so that you can keep at least one phone powered up for the duration of the road trip.

  3. A flask with a cup (or two)
  4. When you head out for a day or weekend of driving and exploring, you possibly don’t think about those cups of coffee and tea you are used to having during the day, until you want them. With a flask and cups, you can take a few hot cups of coffee or tea with you. You could save yourself a few hundred randsin the first day alone. Besides, what could be better than sharing a cup of hot coffee with your travel partner while you look out over a spectacular view?

  5. Re-usable water bottles
  6. Everyone on the trip should have their own reusable water bottle with them. You can always refill the bottles at the local garage when you stop for fuel. Buying bottles of water and juice along the way will quickly rack up in terms of costs.

  7. Camping stove, utensils and paper plates.
  8. While road-tripping from one town to the next, the hunger bugs are going to strike. You need to have meals on hand that are easy to make and won’t cost you the price that fancy restaurants and pubs will charge. This is especially handy if you have kids. You will find a variety of camping stoves on Takealot, many of which are also collapsible, which means that they won’t take up too much space. Think of crispy bacon and egg rolls enjoyed in a roadside picnic spot – what could be better?

  9. Snacks.
  10. Snacks such as sandwiches, chocolates, chips, muffins, crackers and similar are more expensive at the roadsideservice station than they are in the grocery store. If you aren’t keen to stop and cook on the side of the road, pre-packing a few grocery store-bought snacks will save you money.

  11. Compact camping kettle.
  12. Your flask is going to run dry at some point, and you already have the camping stove, so it makes sense to carry a compact kettle with you. Make sure to take a few bottles of water with you so that you can make some hot beverages or even boil some eggs.

  13. Fully-equipped picnic basket.
  14. When cooking or eating in picnic sites and at viewpoints, you are going to need things like cutlery, teaspoons, knives, plates, paper towels, extra cups, cutting board, sauces, salt, pepper and so on. By investing in a fully equipped picnic basket, you can store all of these items in one place, conveniently.

  15. Rubbish bags
  16. Taking rubbish bags along won’t save you money, but it will save the environment. Any road trip generates rubbish along the way. There are paper plates and towels, tea bags, food packaging, water bottles, and packets that need to be disposed of correctly. Unfortunately, there are not always bins to be found when you need them, even along the most popular routes in SA. It’s best to go prepared. Pack small bin liners or black bags in your car and fill them up with all of your rubbish while en route. This makes it quick and easy to throw things away when you arrive at your final destination for the day.

  17. Waterless hand soap and wet wipes
  18. A lot of purchases made along the way are impulsive. They are typically a result of stopping at the petrol station to wash hands or clean something. By packing waterless hand soap and wet wipes, there will be less need to stop along the way (and you will have the rubbish bags to throw them into!).

  19. A GPS device
  20. Whether you are road-tripping locally or internationally, using map apps on your mobile phone is going to cost you in terms of data. If you have a Garmin, TomTom or similar GPS device, you can save your data.

Entertainment for the kids

Contrary to popular belief, road-tripping with your kids doesn’t have to be hours of endless squabbles and headaches. It can actually be a great way to share quality family time, making lasting memories – IF you follow the rules:

  • Make up a few special road trip packs with games,picture books, colouring-in books and favourite small toys.
  • Have an extra set of clothes close at hand for spills and ‘incidents’.
  • Download some appropriate films onto an iPad (be sure to have a charger).
  • Stop often to take photos, have a picnic or simply let them out to run wild in a field.
  • Play musical chairs in the car and swap seats each time you get back into your rental vehicle.


Don’t let a road trip turn into regret due to all the unexpected expenses. Plan, prep and pack for a road trip, and be mindful of your spending but most importantly, enjoy the journey!

Ready to go on your road-tripping adventure? Use our search feature to compare rental rates from the likes of Bidvest Car Hire and other leading rental companies in the country.