Frugal Family Road Trips

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It’s Summer! That means we are melting here in Florida, but it also means more time for family. Today, I’m joining Julie and Morgan for a little Frugal Summer Fun! 

Julie is sharing about Hosting a Frugal Backyard Barbecue.

Morgan is sharing Frugal Toddler Summer Fun.

And I’m talking all about family road trips!

I’ve been fortunate to travel quite a bit. When I was single, I was able to travel overseas twice, and my husband and I have traveled half way across the country several times to see family. Traveling can be expensive, but I’ve learned a few tips throughout the years that have saved us money. They are little things that make a big difference when added up!

Frugal Family Road Trips


Make a List and Check It Twice

If you don’t take the time to make a list, it is very easy to forget something or run out of an item while on the road. When I went to Europe, I forgot to pack my memory card for my camera and ended up paying 3x the price at the airport. What’s worse is I already had one at home! 

Forgetting my memory card taught me to always make a detailed list before traveling. I like to make a few lists about a week before packing: a list of clothes and accessories for each person, a list of food, and a list of things we need to pack the day we leave such as toiletries and phone chargers. If it is at all possible, I start packing a few days before leaving too. That way I am less likely to forget things.

Free Car Entertainment

You don’t have to spend a bunch of money keeping you or your family entertained while driving. Here are some free things we do to stay entertained while traveling.

  • Library

Visit the library before hitting the road. You can check out magazines, books, music, books on CD, and even DVD’s for portable DVD players. I like to keep all of the things from the library in one bag with the receipt so that I don’t loose track of any of the items while on the road.

  • Games

Do you know any fun car games? My husband and I get a little (okay a lot) competitive when it comes to road games!

Our favorite game to play is the “The License Plate Game”: Look for as many different states plates as you can find. The only plates that don’t count are the ones from the current state you are driving in. Each person calls out the state as they see them and keeps a tally for themselves. Decide on a winning number such as 20.

Some other favorites while growing up were The Alphabet Game, 20 Questions, and “I’m going on a trip…” Let me know of other road trip games you enjoy in the comments!

  • Toys/Books

About a week before a trip, I put a few small toys and books away so that my son can’t play with them. When it is time for our trip, I put the toys in a small bag on the floor under his car seat. That way I can easily pull out a “new” toy or book for him to play with and it keeps him entertained for a while. I also love these quiet books* for toddlers.

Frugal Family Road Trips

Plan Ahead of Time

Many museums, theme parks, and other tourists sites offer online discounts that have to be purchased a day or even up to a week in advance. Before leaving for your trip, look up places that you are sure to visit and find out if you can purchase tickets early to take advantage of any discounts.

Another thing to check before you leave is the weather. Knowing the weather forecast means you are better prepared and less likely that you will have to make a run to the store to purchase items that you need for the weather conditions such as umbrellas, jackets, or sunscreen.

Bring Snacks and Drinks

Buying drinks and snacks on the road gets really pricey. Avoid those crazy prices by bringing your own such as water bottles, cans of soda, and juice boxes. Bring along a small cooler, fill with drinks, and pour ice over the drinks. This keeps them cool all day. 

You can also bring snacks such as granola bars, fruit, chips, cookies, crackers, and trail mix. They are easy to eat in the car and you are less likely to spend money on candy bars and other snacks at rest stops.

Vehicle Maintenance

Our vehicles are 8 and 15 years old, but they both run really well for us. We follow the required maintenance by getting the oil changed and taking care of the tires on a regular basis. But before a long trip, we like to take the car in and have it all checked out to make sure it is road ready. Taking long trips can wear a vehicle out, but keeping up with the maintenance has saved us a lot of money in costly repairs.

 What other tips do you have for family road trips?


Don’t forget to check out Julie’s tips for hosting a frugal barbecue and Morgan’s frugal toddler summer fun!


Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Save Money on Birthday Parties

4 Choices that Save My Family $1,000’s Each Year

How to Instantly Lower the Grocery Budget


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