Family Road Trips on a Budget

Few things are as memorable as going on family road trips. From the backseat games and snacks to the sightseeing and quality time together, I grew up going on road trips and try to make it a priority with my kids, too. And even though the idea is simple—hop in your car and drive somewhere—road trips can get pricey, especially as your family grows. Here are four tips to budget-friendly family road trips.

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  1. Plan your food. One of the easiest ways to save money is to bring your own meals and snacks instead of stopping for fast food along your journey. Pack a variety of foods that are easy to eat, such as apple slices, trail mix, sandwiches, and crackers. You can also mix it up by finding cheap diners and restaurants that you can stop at along the way when you need a break from pre-prepared food.
  2. Take breaks. Look for fun stops along the way to break up the drive. There might be a spectacular attraction along your route that is worth splurging on, but cheap and free stops like parks, downtown areas, or national landmarks can also be memorable and break up the boredom. Get your kids’ input on the stops they would like to make so you can keep everyone happy.
  3. Get discount hotels. Lodging can quickly add up and become one of the most expensive parts of your trip. Save money by planning your specific stops and booking hotels in advance—you’re more likely to get a discounted rate if you book in advance instead of when you get to the hotel. You can also ask about discounts for veterans or AAA members or always use the same hotel chain to build up rewards points. An even cheaper alternative is to camp along the way, but that option isn’t for everyone.
  4. Find cheap gas. Again, it pays to plan ahead and know approximately how much gas your trip will take. Use the website or app GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas in your area, or always stop at the same gas chain to take advantage of rewards points and deals. Follow gas-saving driving habits to maximize your gas and reduce the number of stops you have to make.

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