This is how to plan cheap road trips for you or with your kids! We are a family of 5 who road trip several times a year and love to save money so we can do it even more often. Here are a few tips on where to go to find those deals so you can travel more often too.
Yes, we are a traveling family! Whenever my kids are out of school we load up the van and head to a different destination…several times each year! We’ve visited multiple National Parks, camped in tents, stayed in a variety of hotels, enjoyed waterparks, amusement parks, and just returned from a long road trip from CA. to ID. and back! We both work hard and choose to spend our money on traveling rather than “things”, with this said we love to save money whenever we can and find new ways to plan cheap road trips whenever possible. Here are a few ways we have been able to save money while traveling with our kids so you can do them too, find more family travel resources on our road trip blog too. This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Groupon and Fourstarzz Media. All opinions are my own and honest.
- These faces are why we travel…and love spending time together as often as possible!
If you’ve never road tripped with kids it is a great experience. Yes the first time will be a bit more challenging than others as you work out the kinks of where each child should sit in order to avoid the ever disastrous “she’s touching me”, but you will figure out what works best for your family in the first few hours of driving and believe me when you get back you’ll be hooked too!
We took our first long road trip with kids when my youngest was just 3. It was a 7 hour drive from CA. to the Grand Canyon and it was REALLY snowing when we got there. No we didn’t have 4 wheel drive, we weren’t equipped with quite enough winter gear, but those all added to the stories we told about that trip later.
We had most of the trip planned out but found that halfway thru it was so much better to just wing it and find things that were fun to do when we go there. I had researched online “things to do in ______” which brought up some things, but while driving around we found so much more and from that moment on we threw the notion that we had to have an itinerary.
Now we have a destination in mind, a place to stay (which I typically book ahead of time on Groupon in order to save us money and make sure we have a place to lay our heads at night), and leave the rest up to what we find along the way and what comes up online when we want to stop (Groupon+ is perfect for those times).
This is how we plan cheap road trips throughout the year, save money, and the resources we use:
- Maintain your car regularly so there are no costly car issues when we are away on trips.
- Choose a destination – Sure you can randomly pick where you want to go but if you are looking to plan cheap road trips you may want to focus on a location where relatives live so you may have a free place to stay, or keep an eye on the Getaway deals on Groupon and choose a location that way. One of our favorite vacations came from their site when we visited Zion Ponderosa for the first time! I had no idea this existed but found it while perusing where to go and it looked fabulous…and was a great price for all 5 of us to stay. Since then we’ve been back there and will probably visit again because it’s a hidden gem I never would’ve discovered had I not been looking thru their deals.
- Plan a few stops – When you are going on cheap road trips (especially with kids) that is beyond a 2 hour drive you will want to plan a few stops along the way. BELIEVE ME it will save your sanity, make the kids and yourself happier. I don’t know what it is about just getting up, stretching your legs, and getting a bite to eat even for just a few minutes that makes you happier but it does…… and makes you ready for another few hours in the car. Of course you’ll need gas too so planning on approximately where you’ll stop is important. When you get there (or beforehand if you have specific spots you are planning to stop at) pull up Groupon+ and save money on your meal! For instance there’s a deal for Papa John’s right now…..spend $10 for a lg. pizza & 2 liter soda + with Groupon+ discount you get up to an additional $5 cash back. If you’re not familiar with this new Groupon feature this is how it works:
- Enter your destination at the top of the search bar like you see below
- Choose from the listed restaurants in the area
- Click “Claim” deal and redeem in the store on your total purchase
- NO purchase necessary, it’s totally FREE!
- Automatic 5% cash back at all Groupon+ restaurants PLUS you also get more if you claim the deal specific to the restaurant…up to 30% cash back!
- Receive cash back on your linked credit card!!
- See more about Groupon+ here
- Pack well – Do a little research on the climate of your destination and make sure you take the correct attire! If you aren’t prepared you may have to buy extra jackets etc.. which will blow your budget.
- Prepare your kids – You don’t want to go on a long 8 hour road trip and not be prepared….especially with kids!! All of these tips will not only save your sanity but will also save you a lot of money along the way. What I mean by preparing your kids is to do the following things before you leave:
- Tell older children how long it will take and give them a watch so they can keep track of how much longer it will be (avoid “are we there yet”)
- Let each child bring a small pillow and blanket and/or comfort stuffed animal. This will help keep them comfy (and possibly nap) on your trip
- Keep a list of road trip games for kids handy for those antsy times when you need to keep them busy
- Pack a backpack for EACH child…NO sharing allowed (makes things a lot easier). Inside include:
- Extra pair of ear buds (if they have something to listen to music with or watch movies this helps)
- Water bottle and/or juice pouch
- Small toy(s) they haven’t seen yet to keep them busy (snag a few when you’re at the store beforehand)
- Use money saving APPs when you reach your destination – When eating out choose from locations that offer you cash back like those on Groupon+. When looking for things to do search Groupon’s Activities in their local section. Just change the location when you arrive at your road trip destination and see what is offered and save money day after day!
These are many of the things we do when planning cheap road trips with our kids. It has helped us stretch our dollar which then allows us to travel more often. There are a lot of fun trips for kids to take…you just have to keep your eyes open! Each and every one we’ve taken has become a huge part of our lives, and the memories my children will have of growing up together. If you haven’t ventured out yet I highly recommend it and we hope our road trip tips help you start your journey! 😉