Monday, June 21, 2010

Saving Money On Family Road Trips

Summer is that time of the year when our family either go on vacations, camping or road trips.

It is an exciting time for the kids where they put their schoolwork and computer games behind and just have fun outdoors.

However, having fun and memorable experiences on a family vacation doesn't mean spending money recklessly. We are very conscious about saving money from hotels, airfares, souvenirs and food. All these expenses can add up to a hefty bill.

Instead of flying to Europe or visiting a theme park, why not stay closer to home by taking a road trip? Now, with rising gas prices, planning an affordable road trip may be more challenging but it is not daunting either.

Here are five easy ways to save money on a family vacation, without skimping on the fun:

1. Pack Your Lunch and Avoid Restaurants

Eating out at restaurants can be expensive, especially when you are with the entire family. You can save money by skipping the fast food joints and restaurants. Just bring food for the car ride instead.

This way you are not only eating healthier, you can also use the money you save to enjoy the local grub once you arrive at your destination.

2. Shop in Advance for Vacation Items

Don't wait till the day before your road trip before you start shopping. Try to purchase items in advance you browsing newspapers to find the best deals on items such as sunscreen, beach bags, GPS devices and bug spray.

Large grocery chains sometimes offer “Catalina” deals where you can earn gift cards for purchasing items for family vacations.

3. Travel during off-peak hours

If your work schedule is flexible and can take a few days off, consider leaving on a Sunday and returning on a Wednesday. This way, you avoid the weekend rush of tourists and get cheaper prices for hotels too.

Consider visiting sites such as, and before you book your hotel.

4. Find Free Ways to Entertain Your Kids

You have to keep your kids entertained in the car to make the road trip fun for them.

There are coloring books, crosswords and games you can purchase or print out online to save money. Consider visiting Printable Coloring Pages which have many coloring pages for kids.

5. Adjust Your Driving Habits

Stopping and accelerating suddenly and speeding are not only dangerous driving habits, they can also affect your car’s gas mileage.

According to a Consumer Reports study, these types of habits can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency by two to three miles per gallon. Smooth driving can also help you extend the life of your car’s engine, transmission, brakes and tires.