By: Vicki Little
Road trips can be a great way to bond as a family and visit many different places. They also can end up costing you more than the extra luggage fees you were trying to avoid. With just a little time and tips, you can make memories that will last a lifetime and save money as well. Here are three steps to taking a frugal family road trip:
- Map out your route to avoid wasting time and gas turning around. Avoid toll roads, if possible, and find rest stops to use so you aren’t driving extra distances to find one.
- Check sites like Travelocity or hotels.com to see if you can get any deals on hotels.
- Also look at destination websites to see if you can find any deals or free days.
- When booking a hotel, find one with a free continental breakfast. And don’t pass up the free fruit – grab an apple or banana for your mid-morning snack.
- Check with your hotel to see if they offer discounts to local attractions.
- Consider camping a night or two or finding a friend you can stay with.
- Do not pack extra luggage that you don’t need. Extra weight can cause you to spend more money on gas. Also, consider using plastic drawers (you can buy these at any local Walmart or Target) to keep your clothes in, so you don’t have to haul large pieces of luggage in and out of hotel rooms.
- Pack a cooler and some snacks. You can save a significant amount of money by eating food brought from home rather than fast food. Instead of packing the cooler with ice, freeze water bottles ahead of time to keep the cooler cold, so you have cold water ready to drink.
- Bring along screen shots or MapQuest directions of your route so you don’t need to use your data plan if there is no wi-fi
- The money you spend on a tune-up now will actually save you money on a road trip, and could possibly save you thousands of dollars in repairs if the mechanic catches a belt that is worn or brakes that are bad. Be sure to get all fluids filled, and make sure that your wipers work well. Also make sure your tire pressure is correct.
- Drive the speed limit! This is supposed to be a relaxing road trip, not a race, and driving the speed limit will actually save you money on gas.
- Have a spare tire and the tools necessary to change a flat. This will save you money and time.
- Use your windows instead of air conditioning. Who cares about messy hair on a road trip anyway?
- Try to avoid rush hour. Nothing is worse than sitting in a traffic jam when you are about to be late to work … except for sitting in a traffic jam when you are on a road trip.
Do you have a great money-saving road trip tip?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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