How to Save Money and Have Fun With Your Kids on a Road Trip

family road trip checklist

Road trips made up 22% of vacations in the US in the year 2015. One year later that number increased up to 39%. It’s said that more and more Americans prefer to skip the hassle of flying and go on a road trip. Even fewer Americans are traveling outside of the US. In fact, 85% of American trips are domestic. Road trips are now one of the most frequent vacations to take with your family! 

So, you want to take a road trip, now what? What’s the best way to take a road trip? Are there ways to save money? Are there any hacks that make traveling with kids easier? Here’s what you need to know to have a fun road trip with your kids all while saving money.

Money Saving Tips

There are lots of ways to save money on a long road trip. It just takes a little extra planning, but it’s very doable!

Download a Gas App

A gas app lets you know where the cheapest gas around is. Of course, this requires extra planning so you can get to the cheapest gas station.

The gas stations that are right next to the freeway or highway tend to be the most expensive because they are the most conveniently located.

Make sure you have enough gas in the tank to drive around enough to find the gas stations with the cheaper prices.

Pack Carefully

Double, even triple check everything you’ve packed!

I’m sure you’ve noticed this…

Trip essentials are always so much more expensive once you’re at your location!

A phone charge is going to cost you a lot more if you have to buy it from a hotel or somewhere nearby.

The same goes for toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen, or a camera battery.

It’s really frustrating to have to pay a lot of money for something that you really need, but have sitting on your coffee table at home.

Essential Packing List Items

  • Toiletry bag
  • Sunscreen 
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Water bottle
  • Car cooler
  • Garbage bags
  • Travel pillow 
  • Tweezers
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Hair ties
  • Flip flops
  • Day pack
  • Blanket

Pack Enough Food

Bring a car cooler and pack enough food for the entire family.

You’ll find that most of your budget will be spent on fast food and convenience store snacks. A lot of money can be saved by bringing your own!

The best part?

You’ll save time too! You won’t need to stop every time someone gets hungry.

Make Sure Your Car is Ready to Go

Nothing is worse than a car breaking down and ruining a perfectly good road trip.

Except maybe the price you’ll have to pay to get your car working again.

Avoiding a break down will save you hundreds of dollars! A simple oil change can save you a lot of money down the road. If your car had an oil leak or dirty oil that seized up your engine, you’d be paying a lot more than the cost of an oil change.

Road Trip Hacks for Kids

Traveling with kids can be daunting. However, these easy hacks will save you a lot of your sanity and make traveling a lot more fun for everyone!

Keep Kid Essentials in a Shoe Organizer

Put diapers, wipes, toys, drinks, and books in a shoe organizer that hangs from the driver’s headrest. This way everything is easily accessible.

Older kids that can reach farther will be able to grab something that the baby needs!

Create a Toddler Bed in a Hotel Room

Instead of using up valuable packing space for a pack n’ play, create your own toddler bed.

Typically, hotel rooms have small armchairs. All you need to do is put two of the chairs together and it creates a small bed for little ones! Plus, it’s hard for them to get out of so they’re less likely to get up and roam around.

This makes for better sleep for everyone.

Make a Road Trip Guide

Are you sick of hearing are we there yet?

This will end that question!

Create several paper cars for stops that you plan to make along your trip. String some yarn from one end of the car to the other and pin the cars to the yarn. Every time you reach a stop, take one of the cars down. Kids will be able to see how much farther they have to go and they’ll get excited every time you reach a new milestone.

Make Shower-Caddy Meal Trays

Buy a cheap shower caddy from the dollar store.

This one purchase will save you a ton of messes later!

Have your kids put their meals inside the shower caddy and eat out of it. This creates a plate that food can’t slide off of. It also has a handle that’s easy to hold onto of the road gets a little rough.

Amazing Road Trips in America

If you’re itching for a road trip but you don’t know where to start or where to go, you’ve come to the right place.

Did you know...

With that in mind, here are a couple of amazing road trips in America to join in on the fun.

Alaska Highway

This road trip actually starts in Canada. So you’ll need a passport.

This trip is about 1,459 miles long with no end of beautiful scenery and wildlife.

Some of the best stops include Liard River Hot Springs and the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum in British Columbia.

Make the trip a little longer by driving to Anchorage where you can see Denali National Park. This National Park is home to the highest peak in North America.

Route 66

Route 66 is the classic American road trip. It starts in Lake Michigan and can take you all the way to LA. However, you don’t have to do the entire thing.

You should plan a two-week trip if you want to travel the entire thing.

This is a 2,500-mile road trip with a whole lot of nostalgia along the way.

Route 66 reminds people of the good ol’ days. There are tiny gas stations and car side motels that remind people of before there was a constant stream of concrete and city noises.

Step back in time when you drive Route 66.

Pacific Coast Highway

This sunny road trip will take you from San Francisco to San Diego.


There are several amazing stops along the way that you won’t want to pass by!

The Pacific Coast Highway is over 1,000 miles long and there are no shortage of fun stops. This road trip will take you by historic redwood trees, little beach towns, and some pretty awesome roller-coasters.

You’ll come across the Golden Gate Bridge where you can stop and walk across it, and take in the wonderful view.

The Santa Cruz boardwalk is home to amazing rollercoasters that adrenaline junkies will want to check out.

What’s the Best Length for a Road Trip?

You don’t want a one-day vacation, but you also don’t want your vacation to be too long and dragged out. So how long is a good length for a road trip? How long are road trips by other Americans?

Let’s look closer:

9% of Americans take 1-2 day trips while 27% take 3-4 day trips. A slightly lower 25% take 5-6 day trips and an even lower 22% take 7-8 day trips (1).

Fewer and fewer Americans take trips more than 8 days long. 14% take 9-14 day trips, 3% take 15-20 day trips, 2% take 21-30 day trips and 1% take trips more than 30 days (2).

Summing Up

Road trips are becoming more and more popular among Americans. They’re fun, memorable, and make for great adventures.  

Road trips also bond families together and can be done on a budget. There are so many ways to save money and fun hacks to do so that everyone has a good time.

Now that you have your checklist for an amazing road trip, what’s stopping you?



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