To adventure further and drive longer you will have to cut corners and save money whilst on the road, here are the best ways to do so.
Do your own cooking. This is crucial to saving money and yes fast food outlets are so tempting, but you will end up spending more than you would by cooking al-fresco. Try and save fast food for a treat, it is an especially good motivator if it is raining or if you have been on a back country hike.
If it is raining. Parks and recreational areas usually have a shelter or a small hut you can use to cook in. Cooking in a park is also a good idea if you are struggling to find a place to sleep for the night and must move to a residential area, you will draw less attention to yourself than if you were to cook and sleep in the same place.
Use libraries. Usually they will have free WiFi or computers you can use, especially if you need to do a lengthy task i.e. Booking flights. A good library will also have plenty of guidebooks, you can note down activities and hikes that look interesting to you.
Make your own coffee. If you have the caffeine habit invest a couple dollars in a travel mug and make you and your travel companions coffee, it is so much cheaper, especially when split three ways.
Park overnight for free. Where would it be safe for you to do so, where are you unlikely to receive a ticket and be harassed. This is where you have the advantage over a huge RV, parking for the night is far subtler in a van or car. Consider churches, residential areas, parks etc. It is far easier in less built up areas and may be near on impossible in cities.
Pick up hitchhikers. They may be looking for a free ride, but you can ask before you pick them up if they would chip in money for gas. It is also a great way to meet people and possibly continue your adventure with them.
Showering. It is often tricky to find free showers, if you are by the beach you will be able to shower for free there. National parks sometimes offer free showers but often you will pay a few dollars for them, it is usually worth it! Whenever you can jump in a river or lake, and fill up the travel shower you purchased before your trip.
Change oil regularly. Every ten thousand kilometres or so, it is relatively inexpensive to do and will keep the engine running efficiently.
Free days. Most museums and galleries offer a day a week/month that is free or by donation, look out for these in the area you are in.
Tourist Information Centres are amazing. They will give you leaflets and suggestions of free activities in the area, and sometimes even offer suggestions for free overnight parking (on the down low). Use them to refill water containers in the car and ask about showering.
Water should be refilled at every opportunity. This is easy in national parks or by the beach, but in other areas ask at garages, tourist information centres and even drive into campsites or recreational areas.
Firewood will always be appreciated. If you come across a stack of dried, burnable wood that is free to use; make some room for it in your vehicle. Most National Parks and Forests do not allow collection of wood, so make sure you collect in an area that it is permissible to do so.
Search classifieds on Craigslist, Facebook etc. for National Park annual passes. Make sure there is space for an additional signature so you can add your own, as you are often asked for a signature on entry.