Heading out on a road trip over Spring Break or later this summer? You can cut down on expenses and keep your family happy through long days of driving by doing a little advance planning and bargain hunting before you go. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time on the road with four kids this summer, so I’m definitely keeping my eyes peeled for deals on snacks, entertainment, and rewards to snag at great prices and stash away before we leave. Here are a few things I watch for before we leave on a trip:
Snacks: Munchies are important on a road trip, but I try to stay away from sugar early in the day–that’s a recipe for disaster! We’ll have a couple of sweet treats, but we try to keep the snacks pretty tame.
- Refillable water bottles
- Dried fruit
- Goldfish crackers
- Yogurt Sticks (freeze them before you leave, and they’ll keep well in the cooler)
- Granola bars
- Graham crackers
- Sugar free gum for older kids
- Juice boxes
- Cheese sticks, apples, and baby carrots (closer to departure date!)
Entertainment: Anything to keep them busy, happy, and off each others’ case!
- Markers and colored pencils
- Dollar-store coloring books/activity pads
- A few books about our destination (these can be from the library!)
- A new DVD or two
- Extra batteries for the Leapster
- Suction-cup shower caddies to stick to the windows for holding cars/markers (a seriously brilliant idea spotted over at Moser Moments)
- Free printable travel games and printable coloring pages of favorite characters
- Mess-free (or low-mess) craft projects
- Free (or super cheap) Kindle books for my daughter (and me!)
- New bargain MP3 music
- Photo journal to document the trip
Rewards: My kids can earn rewards throughout a day on the road by behaving appropriately, keeping whining to a minimum, and not touching their siblings. (I’m also not above a little flat-out bribery, especially toward the end of a long day of driving!) 😉
- M&M’s fun-size packs (there’s only a few in each pack for portion control, but it can be enough to get us through that last hour!)
- Small toys (Matchbox cars, fun pens, Pokemon cards, etc.)
- Some of the above entertainment items (like a DVD or coloring book) they’ll have to “earn” as well!
- A grown-up size candy bars for mom & dad…I’m sure we’ll earn a few treats too! (I watch for deals at the drugstores and stash a few away)
- Wet wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Band-Aids & “boo-boo cream” (Neosporin)
- Children’s pain & fever relief, cold medicine, Dramamine, etc.
- Headache medicine for mom & dad!
- Ziploc baggies (snack size, sandwich, and quart)
- Empty grocery bags for trash
I’m probably forgetting some things, but this is a pretty good start of the bargains I’ll be watching for before we take off. By spreading these things out, watching for deals, and using coupons, I should get some good deals, and the expense won’t all hit at once either. Hopefully I’ll have most of it stashed away by the time we’re getting ready to go, so I won’t be scrambling at the last minute either!
What items will you be looking for to help you (and your little passengers) enjoy hitting the road this summer? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!
Have you checked out our other Travel on a Shoestring posts?
- Travel on a Shoestring: Lodging and Transportation
- Vacation Planning on a Shoestring
- Travel on a Shoestring: Feeding your family away from home
- Road Tripping with Kids series: General Tips, Behavior Tips, Road Trip Fun for Kids, Avoid Emergencies
- Northeast Ohio Staycation & Summer Fun Ideas
- Nationwide Staycation & Summer Fun Ideas (check the list to find free & frugal fun near your vacation destination!)
- Travel on a Shoestring: Fun for the family without busting the budget
- Travel on a Shoestring: Staycations (general staycation ideas)
- Travel on a Shoestring: Disney World on a Budget
- Travel on a Shoestring: National Parks with Kids
- Travel on a Shoestring: Megan’s Month-Long Cross-Country Road Trip
- Travel on a Shoestring: Mount Rushmore and Jewel Cave
- Travel on a Shoestring: Yellowstone National Park with Kids
- Visiting Laura’s Little Houses Part 1: Intro and Little House on the Prairie
- Visiting Laura’s Little Houses Part 2: Little House in the Big Woods and On the Banks of Plum Creek
- Visiting Laura’s Little Houses Part 3: Laura’s Little Town–De Smet, South Dakota
Don’t forget to pin this information so you have it handy for your own vacation planning!