Road trips are the best & cheapest way to travel for a family vacation, especially with kids! They are perfect for building lasting memories for years to come!
With any trip short or far, you must start planning ahead.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How long of a trip can we take? (weekend, week or two)
- Where should we go? (is there a specific destination you want your children to see; disney, beach, national parks, famous landmarks etc., are you wanting to visit distant relatives)
- What is the cost? (look at your budget and figure up a rough estimate your willing to spend on the trip)
Once these questions have been answered you can begin deciding when you want to take the road trip. Determine the season. Determine the dates. It is cheaper to plan vacations during the off seasons but many times that means the kids are still in school.
Now that you know when, where you want to go and how much you plan to spend…you can research.
I’m talking, get the map out and plug in your destination to check different routes. I often like taking the long way there and short way back home, but that’s only because we like to make lots of stops along the way. Glance at the major cities-plan your stops. Next the FUN part, get on that state’s travel website and look up things to do that woul interest your family in that region or narrow your search to specific cities!
Travel Tips to Save Money
When traveling on a budget, you most definitely want to look for frugal ways to save every last dollar. Family road trips are fun for everyone especially if parents can find ways to be thrifty! Am I right mom? 😉
You don’t need to spend tons of money for your kids to have fun!
- Tip #1: Look for FREE fun
Kids love nature! Yes they do! Fresh air is even better after a few hours on the road. Any roadside attractions or cool landmarks on the way? Stop at a park, walk around, take a hike and stretch those legs and have a picnic. Plan a whole day on the beach. If your visiting a big city, look for museums. Get online when planning and check which ones are free admission. See if there are any special events happening in the area while your there!
- Tip #2: Car Maintenance
Okay but seriously you can save money just be doing a quick vehicle checkup. Check your tire pressure (improves gas mileage), change your oil ahead of time. No ones wants a broke down vehicle on the side of the road-even if that makes for great memories. Try to avoid driving during rush hour when hitting big cities (stops and goes waste gas). Using cruise control is fuel efficient as well.
Here’s some more friendly car tips to be prepared before traveling: make sure your spare tire is handy, tool kit, and jumper cables in your trunk along with extra water and blankets in case of emergencies.
- Tip #3: Kill the Fast Food
I know it seems convenient and fun to stop and get fast food on road trips but man will it eat at your wallet. Just by being a little more prepared before you travel by packing your own food will save LOTS of money.
Bring a cooler and/or large thermal bag to keep in the trunk filled with sandwich makings, drinks and cold snacks (saves money when at gas stations, plus a lot healthier and easier for those pit-stop picnics; reuse water bottles and add some crystal light, cool-aid etc.- so it’s not so boring). Keep a snack basket inside the car filled with healthy snacks as well (better yet save more money-divide and make your own portioned snack bags instead of buying already packaged ones).
When choosing hotel accommodations make sure your room has a fridge to hold your cold items. Especially one that comes with free breakfast (grab some free packaged goodies to-go before you check out). Once you reach your main destination, choose a room that comes with a kitchenette, so don’t have to eat-out everyday on vacation. (some places on the Groupon app when purchased gives certain food discounts or food credits-worth checking into anyway).
- Tip #4: Overnight Stays
Your cheapest bet when saving money while traveling is staying with friends or family for night. You would need to contact them ahead of time and make a short visit.
The next best thing is camping. If your an outdoorsy family here ya go. Pack a nice large family size tent and camp for the night! Most places you can camp free, granted you might have to slum it considering there may not be bathroom facilities. Some state & national parks have cabins for rent (which makes for a great planned stop with plenty of park activities to do).
There are moments when camping just ain’t our thing and we rather pay for hotel room. If your not camping type, your best bet on finding a cheapest room is waiting until the last minute. Download the HotelTonight app for some quick deals.
I hope these tips help save some money on your next trip!
Budget-Friendly Family Road Trip Destinations
Now for some fun family road trip destinations you need to know that’s perfect for spring!
I hope you can use this list as a starting point for your new family adventure 🙂
Grab your camera and see California’s state flower at its fullest in the spring anywhere from mid March to early May! Located in the northeast corner of L.A. County near Lancaster. It’s a beautiful place to hike the trails and explore the native wildlife. It’s best to visit mid-morning and pack yourself a picnic lunch. You are prohibited from taking flowers away from the reserve. Visit their Facebook page @PoppyReserve for updates before traveling so you don’t miss them! There is a $10 parking fee per vehicle, but they have free guided tours.
There’s so many free events to check out during March 20-April 16th that there’s something for everyone! Other than the beautiful scenery of the trees blooming, and the special festival events, you can find lots of other activities near the monuments and museums during this time. It’s a pretty busy time to visit and the best way to travel around the city is using public transportation. Be sure to get to the Tidal Basin is early morning to avoid congested crowds.
Visit the Jefferson Memorial which is on the Basin,and you can also spot the White House from the memorial. Head over to FDR Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial while your there. If you rather have a guide along to talk about the trees history, you can request a free cherry blossom walking tour. You can even make reservations to rent a paddle boat during this time and enjoy the view from the water. Go ahead and book a guided tour of the city in advance. There’s way more wonderful events and free things to do in Washington, DC.
Your probably wondering well that doesn’t look like death valley…isn’t it suppose to be the hottest, and driest place in North America, what’s with the gorgeous wildflowers? Despite its name, it actually has a great deal of life in March-April and a must-see experience for the family. There are so many things for kids to explore like being a Junior Ranger, and more!
Another great park to visit during the spring months of April-June is seeing the saguaro cacti bloom! They are spectacular and a must-see for the family. Pack a lunch and pick a trail to hike in the late afternoon or early evening to catch them night blooming. Don’t forget to have the kids get involved in the Junior Ranger program! I just love how the national parks let the kids explore and experience nature.
Look for interesting guided tours in the city as a family. Some fun places to explore with kids is at Pike Place Market with so many things to visit that’s pretty inexpensive, plus for a behind-the-scenes feel take the food and cultural tour and don’t forget the Chocolate Tour. Check it out the details here! Again, look up those awesome museums in Seattle, and decide which interests your family-some do require admission. Make sure not to miss any fun festivals they have every month. You name it and Seattle has it! Swim at one or more of its great beaches, rent kayaks, visit a wading pool, bike ride, and so much more- browse the website and plan your visit!
The best time to visit Yellowstone is in the spring if you want to view the cute new babies around April- mid-June. You’re sure to see some orange bison calves, or bear cubs. Aside from the wildlife and geyser viewing, plan to camp for the weekend. Go for a hike, fish, horseback ride, take a tour two and even check out their Junior Ranger program fun for the kids and so much more!
Have you visited any of these destinations during the spring?
Let me know about it in the comments below. Thanks!