This weekend we took a road trip to California as you might have saw in our beach post yesterday. During our trip, being the person I a I was constantly keeping track of how much money we were spending. While vacations aren't really ever that cheap, there are a few ways to make them a bit cheaper. Here are some of my favorite ways to have a less expensive road trip:
- Make a list ~ This is probably the best thing that will save you money, and it's free. The reason is if you make a list of everything you need and diligently check everything off one by one as you pack it, you will have less to buy on the road. I try to do this for every trip but there are still a few items I always miss packing and we have to stop at a Walmart or Target. Ensuring you pack everything saves you time and money from having to stop! I personally love spreadsheets, you can create free ones that you can even share on http://docs.google.com
- Pack your own snacks and food ~ I always have a box of snacks we bring for not only in the car, but for the destinations we go. If you have been to Disneyland or even in the car and you hear "I'm hungry", you know it's not only time but it's money. A few snacks for the family at Disneyland could easily equal a cost of a meal elsewhere. We also try to bring food like bread and peanut butter for sandwiches, little pasta cups/soups etc. Basically whatever is easy to make on the road or at a hotel/family members house.
- GasBuddy app ~ This app tells you where the cheapest gas is in your area (pulls by GPS) or you can type in the zip code for your destination.
- Buy souvenirs before ~ If you go somewhere like Disney, souvenirs can get expensive especially when you have more than one child. Often times you can purchase items to use/wear there before. I've found many Disney items at the .99 Cent Only Store, in fact I have bought a Disney themed diary and a pen and we used them as autograph books. You can also find outfits in stores like Target or the Disney store even has sales. Be sure to watch online as well on sites like Ebay.
- Bring a backpack into amusement areas ~ Whether you are beach bound or off to an amusement park, save money by bringing a backpack of what you need. Bring sunblock, reusable water bottles with Crystal Light Pure packs, snacks, ponchos (you know, if you go on a ride that gets you wet you can find these before at the dollar store). Also, pack a mini first aid kit full of bandaids, ibuprofen and antacids.
- Give everyone an allowance ~ if you are headed to an amusement park, a good way to avoid hearing "I want this, I want that" is to give everyone a certain amount of money. That way they know they can buy something and they are in control of it however, once the money is out, it's out!
- Discount coupons ~ Always look online before heading out to your destination. A good idea if you are going on a longer stay trip, purchase the Entertainment book weeks before leaving. Look at the visitor center's website for that city, often they offer discount coupons for free that you can print and use. Sign up for email newsletters for places at or near your destination. I signed up for the Denny's in Anaheim email list (right across from Disney) so I would know if they had discounts. Also, check the destination and surrounding places Facebook page, you never know! Also, why not just write to them and see if they have any discounts? Tell the you are from out of town and would like to check out their business and see if they have a discount.
What are some of your favorite ways to save on the road or on vacation?