Since it is summer and more and more people are hitting the road, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about ways to save money in the summer. Summers are often filled with road trips. Nowadays with it being a bit more expensive to take a long trip away, people are often taking shorter trips to local destinations or driving a state away. Here are a few tips to save money on the road.
1 - Gas - First, gas up before you leave town. Gas stations off of highways are notoriously expensive. It is a good idea to look up websites like GasBuddy.com in advance in towns you are going to go through to get an idea of the best place to stop. Watch how you drive as well. If you have it, take advantage of cruise control. Excessive increases and decreases in speeds is not good for your gas mileage. Also check your tire pressure.
2 - Travel tips - Travel when it is cooler. Start your road trip early in the morning and take advantage of the cooler weather. Do your best to avoid traveling during rush hour. If you are on highways with carpool lanes take advantage of them. When you stop at a rest area or gas station, insist on everyone taking a bathroom break. I know it sounds silly but you might eliminate unnecessary stops. Of course if all else fails you still need to stop if a family member needs you to. :) Don't forget to also pack cleaning essentials like wipes, paper towels and some sort of trash bags. Also pack some activities for the kids. You are less likely to have to make unplanned stops if the kids are entertained. I have some ideas at the bottom of this list with some good travel game tips.
3 - Food and Beverages - Buying drinks and snacks on the road can be very costly. Save your money for your destination and pack your drinks and snacks in a cooler. Make sandwiches and wrap them (we usually use baggies and then hold them all in a plastic bag to keep them doubly secure) and store in the cooler as well. Buy snack items at the grocery store in advance. Don't forget to save money on ice for the cooler too. We usually make extra ice in advance to save on buying bagged ice for the cooler. By the way, you do not need a fancy cooler. Walmart has inexpensive styrofoam coolers that are easy to use. We have used the same one for two years to bring things back and forth, and it works great. There are lots of great parks that you can stop at and enjoy your packed lunch in a nice picnic setting. Again, take a little extra time to plan, and you will find that you save money and have a great time. Plus stopping for a picnic lunch can give everyone a chance to stretch on the road.
4 - Visitor Centers - If you are traveling to another state or tourist town, check out the visitor centers. They are almost always chock full of discounts and deals. We have received a lot of great restaurant discounts by availing ourselves of the visitors center. You might also see discounts when shopping at local stores.
5 - Hotel stay - When booking hotels. Try to stay in hotels with kitchenettes. You probably do not want to eat in on your entire vacation, but truly it is wise to save where you can. We usually try to bring snack foods for the hotel. And if it does have a kitchenette, we definitely hit the grocery store. There are two cool things about this for me. One is that I get to compare prices in another area, and shop with the locals. I have even traveled seriously on the cheap by eating cup o noodles with the hot water from the coffee maker. The second is that we can plan a few meals in the hotel which gives us more leisure and less reason to go go go when on vacation.
All in all, a road trip just takes a little planning. A little planning goes a long way into saving money and stress when summer traveling. Now how about those road games?
-- License plate or street sign ABCs - This was my dad's and my standby for our trips to Disneyland back when I lived in California.
-- I spy - For me this always seemed a bit difficult in a moving vehicle, but it appears to be a road trip classic.
-- Mad Libs - You can make up your own, buy them in a book store, or even print some up on line. I like how you can sneak a little learning in with a really fun game.
-- Trivial Pursuit - We bring the questions from old quiz games and quiz each other when on the road.
-- Crossword Puzzles - I started doing this after picking up a Pilot magazine and asking my husband the questions. This is another great way to sneak in a little learning.
-- License Plate United States - Long road trips to popular destinations can be really fun for a US license plate hunt. We print out slips of paper with all the state, and as each person finds a plate, they mark it off on their list. The person with the most completed wins.
-- Photo scavenger hunt - This kind of depends on what you have on hand to take pictures with. If you have a couple cameras on hand, you can make a list of items that the kids need to find and when they see them, they snap a photo. The first person to complete the list wins.
-- Make a CD of songs and play name that tune for the family to see who guesses the song first. Or make a CD of silly songs for the whole family to sing. Another game my son and I play is "Guess the Lyrics." I will play a song and see if he can guess what the artist is singing. This is not as easy as it may sound, and it can be pretty funny.
-- Various Printables - I have found some really cute printables online that I thought I would share.
Family Fun - Printable Road Maze (an awesome Route 66 maze)
Family Fun - Car Bingo (a great bingo game with signs and sites you might see on a road trip)
Game Ideas for Kids - Printable Battleship Game
Now that we have covered saving money on road trips. There is one other cool thing I want to tell you about. There are lots of wonderful National Parks out there, and there is something that I haven't really mentioned which is National Parks Passes. If you are planning on doing lots of road trips or if you are just interested in keeping costs down and checking out some activities closer to hom, you might want to make the investment in a National Park pass. Check out the details:
America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass
|The National Park Service is an important participant in the new Interagency Pass Program which was created by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and authorized by Congress in December 2004. Participating agencies include the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. The pass series, collectively known as the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass|
LINK: America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes
Don't forget that August 14th and 15th are free National Park Entrance days.
LASTLY THE FREEBIES:
Ziploc gift pack - The first 10,000 respondents will win a Ziploc gift pack containing one box of 50-count Ziploc Brand Sandwich Bags, one box of 25-count Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags with the Smart Zip Seal, one package of Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal (small bowl). This is through Right At Home, and if you have received a Right At Home package in the last 180 days, you do not qualify.
LINK - Ziploc Gift Pack
FreeCCM.com has a free download of Laura Story's "Great God Who Saves." You can still get a free download from Jeremy Horn, Derek Webb, and Vicky Beeching.
iTickets.com has a free download of Phil Wing's "You Do Great Things."
Crown Ministries for a limited time is offering a Free Crown Money Map! This is a very valuable resource that can really help get financial direction (pun not really intended - but I decided to go for it). Limit one money map per household.
LINK: Free Crown Money Map
GREAT MAGAZINE DEALS
Check out Best Deal Magazines for their deal of the day. They have Ready Made (a total do-it-yourself dream magazine that covers more than just building) for $5.39. That is for a year's subscription which is six issues. Great magazine. They also have Family Fun for $4.69. Family Fun is perfect for parents of younger children. I still get it, because it has so many great ideas for crafts and recipes.
The main page will tell you the deals of the day.
LINK: Best Deal Magazines
Have a great day!