If you’re thinking ahead to spring break or summer travel these tips from by Kari Patterson will come handy.
Efficiency is one of my core values. Chances are, if you read this blog, it’s one of yours as well. We plan our errands to hit as many stores as possible in one trip. We organize our coupons by expiration date so we don’t waste a single one. We read this blog so we can discover all the local deals with just one click. I do it, too.
So when I found out my cousin was getting married in Las Vegas, I immediately started planning how many other stops we could make along the way, and how we could make the trip double as a family vacation.
Hence the rather ambitious mileage.
Because, if you’re already in Clackamas, you might as well hit Costco, Winco and Target, right? Right. If we’re going to Nevada we might as well visit California, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho too, right?
So began our roadtrip plans. All in all we had a blast—although the 12-hour drives were a stretch for our Littles (ages 3 and 5). We’d definitely do it all over again… just not tomorrow. Here are a few ideas for surviving your own budget roadtrip during these last few beautiful weeks of summer:
Plan a theme for the journey, not just the destination. It’s great to take a road-trip to Disneyland, but if the only exciting part is the destination, the long drive it takes to get there will be seen as merely hours to endure.
We planned our entire journey with an Oregon Trail/Pioneer theme. We checked out 23 books from the library and spent three weeks before the trip reading and learning about the Oregon Trail. That way we could plan games, activities, and stories to read and play along the way so that part of the fun was the journey, not just the destination.
You can also check out our awesome Are We There Yet? Travel Bags here as another way to help the kids pass the travel time.
In desperate times, swallow your pride and pull out the DVD player. That said, there comes a time (after nine hours in the car, for us) when the thought of another travel game makes everyone want to cry, and “Just three more hours,” or “We’re almost there,” means nothing to a child with no concept of time.
Though we don’t own a DVD player, I borrowed one from a friend and saved it as a secret treat when we really needed it. Though I love the idea of traveling “technology free,” I also love my sanity, thank you very much. Whatever you decide, keep something on hand as a treat for when times are tough and you need something special for those final miles.
Never underestimate the power of the Peanut Butter Sandwich. In order to stay under budget, we knew we needed to limit eating out. We planned two food stops at In-N-Out and brought the rest of our food from home.
Yes, we all grew tired of raisins, apples, carrot sticks and almonds, but no one seemed to grow tired of whole-wheat bagels with peanut butter. I brought two bags of bagels and a jar of peanut butter. To my amazement, even when we stopped at In-N-Out, the kids passed on hamburgers and chose the PB on bagel. Our lesson? Kids are pretty easy to please. If we pack their very favorite food it will be easier to pass on all the expensive food options on the road.
Go with Groupon, Costco, and the in-law’s hide-a-bed. We got a great deal through Groupon on our hotel in Vegas (complete with food vouchers that covered our meals while we were there), got food and gas at Costco, and enjoyed three nights of free lodging on my in-law’s hide-a-bed couch. It wasn’t fancy but it was free, and our kids were in heaven spending three whole days with Grandpa and Grandma.
It’s never too late to plan a fun, budget roadtrip for your family. It just takes some creativity… and plenty of peanut butter sandwiches.
Kari Patterson is pastor’s wife, mom, writer, speaker, reader, blogger and frugal living enthusiast. She writes all about the beautiful mess of life over at KariPatterson.com.
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