Want to get away this summer, but don’t have the budget for plane tickets and fancy hotels? A great way to enjoy a family vacation without breaking your bank is to plan a road trip. While there are still many expenses to consider when roadtripping, if you are strategic in your planning you can have a great trip without spending big money. Find a few tips for planning an affordable road trip here:
Dive your car a tune.
Before hitting the road, make sure your engine is tuned, your oil is fresh and your tires are inflated to the highest recommended pressure. Not only will this maximize your gas mileage, but it’ll help you avoid costly breakdowns.
Avoid fueling up on holidays and weekends.
Gas prices tend to rise during these periods. Instead, hit the gas station midweek, and consider kicking off your trip long before or after Independence Day.
Stock up on snacks.
Gas station candy, chips and soda are not only bad for your health, they’re bad for your budget. Avoid impulse purchases by stocking up on healthy, mess-free snacks, such as carrot sticks, apples and raisins. Be sure to pack up plenty of water in refillable bottles.
Instead of hitting the drive-thrus and chain restaurants, head to local grocery stores. At supermarkets, you can replenish your snack supply and shop for sandwich and salad fixings. With your newly acquired chow, you can have a picnic at a local park. By picnicking, you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh air, stretch your legs and shrink your food budget significantly.
Why shell out for an expensive hotel when you can sleep underneath the stars? While hotels can run upwards of $100, campsites will typically set you back no more than $30; in fact, many campgrounds along the open road are free. Dig out your tent, grab some sleeping bag and check out sites like Freecampsites.net to locate the free campgrounds on your route.
Score a deal on accommodations.
It pays to make reservations ahead of time, when you can search for the lowest rates and exclusive online promotions. But with little ones, it’s not always easy to stick to a tight schedule. Happily, there are a variety of apps designed to help you score deals on-the-go, such as HotelTonight or Booking Now. You can also always count on chain motels to have affordable rates and locations scattered across the country.
The way you drive can have a big impact on your gas mileage. Speeding can decrease your fuel efficiency, while abruptly stopping and accelerating takes up extra gas. Rolling down your windows – surprisingly – causes more strain on the engine than using your AC.
Download a good GPS app.
Gone are the days of fumbling around with paper maps. Today, GPS systems can determine the quickest routes and guide you straight to your destination. Try a GPS app like Roadtrippers, which can help you plan your route, calculate gas costs and provide you with info on hotels, campgrounds and points of interest along your journey.
Plan plenty of on-the-go entertainment.
Cranky, bored kids are likely to plead for more stops. Bring along the youngsters’ favorite books and music to help keep boredom at bay. Play driving games like I Spy with My Little Eye and 20 Questions.
Find fun, free activities and attractions. Of course, the real fun happens when you stop the car and explore the local sites. Look for free sightseeing and entertainment opportunities, such as free museums, zoos, art shows, concerts, festivals and parks. Take to the great outdoors and go for a swim at the beach, a hike through the forest, or a romp around a local playground.
SRC: Find the complete article here: money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-05-06/a-guide-to-fun-and-affordable-family-road-trips?int=993208