A good, old fashioned road trip is the ultimate way to vacation for less while creating lasting memories. But unexpected costs can put the brakes on your family's adventure. Consider these practical tips to help you save more money before hitting the open road.
Plan ahead to lock in the best rates. Finding a good place to stay can be overwhelming so it's to use a site like Trip Advisor to read reviews and cut down on the guesswork. Try to book hotels that offer free breakfast or rent accommodations that have a kitchen and laundry access so you can prepare meals and pack fewer clothes. Research the top, local attractions and buy tickets in advance. Don't forget to check for student, senior or membership discounts.
Get a tune-up from a trusted mechanic before you embark on your journey. Nothing will ruin a vacation faster than a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. It's worth spending a little money now to avoid costly and time-consuming repairs during your trip. If you'd rather D.I.Y. or can't get to the shop, use this checklist as a basic guide.
Traffic apps like Waze make it easy to identify slowdowns and construction zones, allowing you to reroute before getting stuck in gridlock. It's best to avoid traveling on the busiest holidays when fuel costs spike but if you can't reschedule, use a gas pricing app like GasBuddy or Gas Guru to find the lowest prices in the area.
Pack a cooler with healthy snacks to prevent pricey, time-wasting pit stops. Stock it with homemade sandwiches, pre-portioned fruits and veggies and plenty of water. Stash other snacks like nuts and dried fruit in individual, zip-top bags to keep you powered up until the next meal.
Visit state and national parks. Not only do they serve as inexpensive attractions with amazing photo opportunities, they make a great way to break up a longer trip. Some even allow you to camp for little to no cost so don't forget your tent! Use this site to find parks closest to your route.
"Are we there yet?" Luckily, this dreaded question can be avoided with the right distractions. Invest in a reasonably-priced car seat organizer that keeps everything kids need within their reach. Fill it with items that you already have at home so you don't waste money on duplicate purchases while on the road. Anything from books and crayons to small toys and electronics can be neatly stored for endless entertainment. You can thank us later.
Pack light. Without airline luggage restrictions, it can be easy to over pack for road trips. Be careful because all that stuff adds weight that will negatively impact your fuel economy. Make a packing list and try to stick to the bare necessities. After all, you might need the extra space for souvenirs along the way too.