Traveling with the whole family can be stressful, and it can quickly get pricey if you’re making frequent stops for things like food and lodging. Add in the stress of the holidays and impatient kids, and you’ve got a long drive ahead of you. Plus, all of that holiday shopping probably has you on a tight budget. But with a little preparation, a budget-friendly travel plan, and a free Courtesy Check at your local Tires Plus, you can make the trip a little bit easier on your psyche and your wallet.
Check out these six tips if you’re ready to save money and keep the whole family happy on that long drive.
Pack meals and snacks for the car.
No family road trip is complete without food, but those impulse snack buys at every gas station add up quickly. Instead of buying a few small, overpriced bags of chips, pack the family-sized bags that give you more snacks for your buck! Better yet, pack a variety of healthy, nutrient-dense snacks like granola bars or nuts, so that your passengers stay full longer.
Consider hotel alternatives.
If you’re embarking on a multi-day road trip and will need accommodations, consider finding a place to stay through Airbnb, HomeAway, or VRBO instead of booking a traditional hotel. Depending on the city, you can often rent entire apartments for a lower price than booking just one hotel room. Once you’ve mapped out your road trip and determined where you’ll be staying overnight, check out alternative listings in the area to find the lowest price.
Plan some fun (and free!) car games.
You don’t need a high-tech tablet or a stack of new coloring books to keep your little ones entertained during a long car ride. Play the alphabet game, where everyone in the car takes turns spotting something that begins with the next letter of the alphabet (i.e., airplane, blanket, church, etc.). Start a game of 20 Questions, answering yes or no questions until someone guesses the person, place, or thing you’re thinking of. Or try Add-On Storytelling, where each passenger tells a bit of a story, stopping mid-sentence, and lets the next person pick up where they left off. There’s no shortage of entertaining games to play on a road trip to help pass the time.
Find cheap gas.
Don’t just pull over anywhere to fuel up. Download the free app GasBuddy which will help you find the gas stations with the lowest-priced gas in the area! You can even filter your results by stations with restrooms, restaurants, and so on. Picking your stops strategically can save you a nice chunk of change by the end of your travels.
Drive the speed limit.
It can be tempting to push the pedal to the metal when you’re on the open highway, but it can also end up making your trip pricier. “Aggressive” driving, like accelerating quickly, speeding, and hard braking, will burn through your gas more rapidly than conservative, safe driving.
Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.
Regardless of the cost-savings, obeying the speed limit and driving safely is one of the best ways to stay safe on the road.
Get a Courtesy Check before heading out.
Very few things hurt your bank account like unexpected car troubles. Nothing’s quite as inconvenient, either! Before you take off on your holiday road trip, head to your local Tires Plus for a free Courtesy Check. We’ll make sure you’re up-to-date on all routine maintenance, like oil and filter changes, and catch any small problems before they become big (and expensive!) ones.