Do you enjoy taking a road trip with your family? I really don’t know if you are nodding your head yes or no right now. There are many people who love to take road trips with the family. And there are many others who dread it.
I think there are a lot of factors that play a part in most people’s responses. Maybe you have young children. We all know that taking long rides with young children can be difficult.
The reason for the road trip also plays a part in how enjoyable it can be. Obviously, if you need to go out of town to visit an ailing family member, it’s not an ideal family trip. Maybe you just want a weekend getaway with the kid?
Whatever the reason, whether good or bad, planned or unexpected, for fun or necessity, they can really take a bit out of your budget. Luckily there are things that you can do to relieve some of the financial burdens.
How To Save Money On A Family Road Trip
Planning ahead is the key to saving money on road trips. I recently took a road trip with my family and the things that I did ahead of time to prepare has just become second nature to me. Then I got to thinking, how costly it used to be when we would take a road trip. With every road trip we took, I learn a valuable lesson that I thought might help you out too.
Get Your Vehicle Ready
Making sure that your vehicle is well maintained before you take a road trip, is pretty crucial as you can image. There is nothing worse than breaking down on a highway miles from home. And a breakdown will totally ruin your road trip.
You want to make sure that your vehicle is in tip top shape before hitting the road. You should check and top off all fluids before leaving. Also, make sure your tires are properly inflated to save on gas mileage.
Check out How to Save Money on Car Maintenance for more tips
Planning your route
Planning your route to getting to your destination will save you money and time. Before taking a road trip, find the quickest way to get to your destination to save money on gas and time.
Even if you’ve been to the destination many times before and know the route, it doesn’t hurt to check to see if there is a quicker way to get to where you are going.
Our latest road trip was to a place we have gone to many times before. We always took the same route to get there, maybe because it was just comfortable, we knew exactly where we needed to go.
But this time I checked to see if there was a better way and we actually saved almost an hour off our trip by taking a different route. So it really doesn’t hurt to check.
Google Maps is a great resource, you simply enter your home address and the address of your destination and google will suggest the shortest route to your destination.
On the road
Unless this is your first family road trip, then I’m sure you know the drill. You get on the road and it doesn’t take long before you are forced to stop at a pricey gas station convenience store because someone has to go to the bathroom, or is hungry or thirsty.
Well, of course, you need to stop to let everyone go to the bathroom, but you can skip the overpriced drinks and snacks while you are there if you plan ahead of time for it.
While packing for your road trip, make sure you also pack snacks and drinks for the long trip ahead. You can make single-serve snack bags of different snacks that your family likes so nobody is fighting over others not sharing. That is the last thing anybody wants when everybody is packed into the family car.
Skip the unhealthy fast food joints
When lunchtime rolls around, most people end up stopping for lunch at a fast-food joint because it’s quick and easy. Instead, why not pack a picnic lunch beforehand to save money?
Prepare your picnic lunch ahead of time and store it in a portable cooler. Once lunchtime rolls around, you can find a nice rest area to stop to have lunch.
This will give everybody a chance to walk around and stretch their leg, take in some fresh air and even take a break from one another for a few minutes. This way everyone will get a chance to recharge before hitting the road again.
Hit up a nearby grocery store
Once you finally reach your destination and settle into your hotel room, scope out the area for a nearby grocery store or drugstore. You should stock up on bottled water and late night snacks for everyone.
This way you are not hitting up the costly vending machines late at night. Take, for instance, you can buy a case of bottled water for about $3 at your local grocery store.
If you purchase bottled water from a vending machine in the hotel, you wouldn’t even be able to buy 3 bottles for that price. You can also get any items that may have been forgotten while last-minute packing.
Ask for a discount
While checking into your hotel room, ask the desk clerk about any discounts they offer. Hotels offer discounts to people who are members of different types of programs. The most common one that I can think of is the discount I utilize by being a member of AAA.
There are many other programs that you may be part of that will get you a discount on hotel stays. So why not just ask, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much you can save.
Then there are rewards programs, many big hotel chains offer rewards program benefits for loyal customers. One that comes to mind is Marriott’s rewards program. You can earn free nights stay with two paid stays, so don’t forget to ask the desk clerk if they offer are any rewards programs too.
Hitting the road with your family is a great way to get away and have some fun without going broke. But as you can see, there are many other things that you can do to save even more money, which will definitely make things more enjoyable for you too.
Do you have any tips to help save more money on a road trip? Please share them, we’d love to learn more.