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Have you had too many of those I need a vacation moments recently? Same.

And spoiler alert: You don’t need a plane to get away. The key to your dream vacay might be sitting in your driveway (or in the parking garage, or at the nearest rental car location).

Here’s why road trips are the best way to travel and how to do it without breaking the bank.

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Juno/Stocksy United

Your car is pretty much your BFF. You might’ve given it a name. And there’s a chance it’s actually one of your longest lasting relationships. (Seriously, that’s love.)

It’s a safe space where you and your fellow travelers can talk, sing, play games, listen to music, eat, and even sleep. It also means no awkward elbow bumping, no small talk with strangers, and no suffering through freezing (or nonexistent) AC. That’s good news for you, and even better news if you have little ones coming along for the ride.

OK, if you brought along a travel buddy to take a turn at the wheel, you might not literally be in the driver’s seat the whole time. But metaphorically, you’re in control.

With other modes of transportation (planes, trains, boats, buses), you’re on their schedule. That can translate to early departures, unexpected delays, annoying stopovers, and a ton of anxiety just trying to get your butt in a seat. Not to mention you have zero control if you get carsick, feel tired, or have a mild freak-out at 30,000 feet.

Break out actual paper maps, put those googling skills to work, and ask Alexa to save your ultimate road trip playlist. You might be surprised by how much fun you have before you even leave your driveway. If you’re more of a fly-by-your-seat sort of person, make a rough outline of your route and invest in a portable phone charger.

Only have a few days? Drive to a neighboring city or town or find a short scenic drive. Been saving up your PTO? Pick a spot on the map and trek across the country. It’s completely up to you.

But here’s the best part: You’re allowed to change your mind en route. If you’re having a blast where you are, stay an extra day or 2. If you see a sign for the World’s Biggest Beagle (real thing), pull off at the next exit.

Money doesn’t have to stand in the way of an amazing vacation. If you plan right, road trips can be one of the most cost-effective ways to travel. Here are some tips to make it happen:

  • BYOF, BYOB, and BYOAETWF. That’s bring your own food, books, or booze (for when you get to your destination), and anything else that will fit. Food and alcohol take up about a quarter of the average American vacation budget, so one of the easiest ways to cut costs is to pack your own provisions.

  • Put those rewards to good use. Before hitting the road, make a list of all your rewards programs (credit cards, hotels, drugstores) and plan accordingly, stopping wherever rewards might be cashed or earned.

  • Take advantage of free activities. Walk around downtown or check out free parks, shows, and outdoor spaces. Not sure where to start? Check your destination’s Facebook page, browse the website of its local paper, or download a city guide app like Foursquare and Like a Local. They’ll let you search for events, nightlife, and food in your price range.

  • Don’t spend all your hard-earned $$ on a place to sleep. Hotels aren’t the only option. Take part in a work exchange (where free housing is provided for chores) or try house-sitting. You could also visit friends you haven’t seen in a while or stay on a local’s sofa. You can even turn your car into a tent — just be sure to find a safe campground or pull-off spot that allows overnight parking. But, ultimately, if you’d prefer a comfy hotel bed (we feel ya), HotelTonight lets you book unsold rooms at a discount.

Forget cramming 3-ounce bottles of shampoo into a baggie or obsessively weighing your luggage. With road trips, you can bring almost anything you want. You can bring snacks for your gluten-free lifestyle, a yoga mat for pit-stop stretching, your favorite pillow, and even a copy of that lengthy book you’ve been meaning to read. You’ve got a lot more wiggle room in a car. So feel free to use it!

Does the thought of leaving your furry friend at home (or worse, kenneled) break your heart? Then don’t! Road tripping means no pet restrictions from third parties. Not to mention, pets make excellent travel partners. According to a 2016 study, 37 percent of pet owners road-tripped with their animals. And it makes sense. They’re cute, sweet, and don’t criticize your driving.

If counting license plates isn’t your idea of a roaring good time, host your own version of “Carpool Karaoke.” Or make a game out of picking up a rock or buying a weird knickknack at every stop. A long road trip is also a good time to listen to a book you’ve been wanting to read or binge a podcast.

When you’ve had your fill of diversions, embrace the silence and enjoy the view. Or take it as an opportunity to reconnect and go deep with your travel partner.

Whatever you do and wherever you go, remember that it’s the journey, the people, and the stops along the way that make a road trip unforgettable.