Some of my best memories as a child are family road trips, as we regularly took trips to Michigan, Chicago and New York. As a constantly busy family we had to find the right time of year to make trips. We also rarely had enough money to take extravagant trips to exotic locations. Looking back now I am glad we didn’t, because we would have missed out on a lot of time together in the friendly confines of a minivan had we flown to warm places for our family vacations.
My friends recently drove over to catch a few of my games after they finished their finals at school. Like any college age kids, they wanted to enjoy themselves on a dime. Four 20-somethings packed into a compact car and took the five hour trip to the town where I play. They saved money by finding savings on meals and by staying at the cheapest hotel in town. Four guys in a $50 a night room. This was right for them, but the same itinerary might not be right for you (unless you are of the same demographic). So, how can you enjoy your road trip, while saving on unnecessary costs?
Turn Your Journey into Part of the Overall Entertainment
Entertaining yourself and those who are with you on a road trip is vital. My family used to find interesting ways to keep ourselves busy in and out of the car.
Entertainment in the car may seem difficult, but as a family of six, we had to stay busy to stay sane. We didn’t have a fancy van with built-in features. We bought a portable electrical outlet that plugged into the car. This way my brothers, sister and I could watch movies or play video games as we trekked across the country. As younger kids, my siblings and I loved playing games like the alphabet game. Be creative and enjoy the bonding a small space can provide.
Road trips are a great chance to see attractions along the way. Check beforehand if there are any such locations on the way to your final destination. Some great stories can be grown out of stops along the way. My friends are stopping at Miller Park (the home of the Milwaukee Brewers) on their way home. This is directly on their path home and it provides them with an opportunity they may not have in the future.
Savings Can Be Found Everywhere
My friends saved by staying at a dirt cheap hotel. This may not be your approach, but websites, such as Priceline, can provide a similar service. You select the quality of the hotel and offer a price. You may not be able to control everything about the place you stay, but you can save big using this method.
The way you drive on your road trip will have a huge effect on the costs you incur. Accelerating and breaking slowly can lead to some savings. Driving as close to 60 mph as possible will typically improve gas mileage too. Packing lightly leads to better fuel economy as does using cruise control. They don’t seem like much, but the savings do add up.
Finding restaurants with deals can also help to save along the way. Better yet, pack a cooler. On road trips as a kid my family packed a cooler full of sandwiches and snacks to save on food and time.
How Do You Spend Road Trips?
Road trips are a great way to create memories cheaply. How do you keep yourself entertained on long drives? Are there any other ways you save on road trips with friends and/or family?