4 Essentials for a Better Family Road Trip

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Summer has always been my favorite season. Blame it on the fact that I’m a summer baby myself, or that I hate being cold, or looked forward to not having school. I love it. And one of the best parts of summer is traveling! As a child I would often go truck driving with my father in the summers, or we’d make our once every 3 year road trip from Wisconsin to Utah for a big family reunion. Traveling is just better in the warmer months and schedules (like no school) often allow for it.

If you are heading out for summer travels this summer (making me a bit jealous since we’re not really going anywhere this summer as I wait to have this baby any day now), I want to share some summer road trip tips with you. Because as awesome as traveling is, you really do want to be prepared and to save money.Great tips for having a better, smoother, more affordable summer family road trip!

1. Save Better on Your Summer Road Trip

One of the worst parts of traveling is the expense. Seriously. I’m sure people would travel way more if it didn’t cost so much, from the gas, to the hotels, to the attractions, to the time off from work. Traveling can be hard financially.

To help you save on traveling, here are some suggestions on how to save on your next road trip:

  • Use a Groupon Deal. This can be a great way to mini road trips or day trips. You can often find excellent deals on attractions in the closest major city to you and save a bundle. And any major city you may be traveling to, will have Groupons as well. Use Groupon for attractions and travel accommodations, but also whole travel packages with their Groupon Getaways. To save any more you can also use a cash back site before you buy (see this post to learn about how I use the three different cash back sites). If you download the Groupon app on your smartphone, they’ll sometimes have extra app-only discounts and savings (like buy 3 deals save $10).Want to score a great deal on your next vacation? Use Groupon Getaways. Check out the app on your Walmart Family Mobile phone when planning your family summer road trip.
  • Travel during the week. When you vacation during the week, there are many different ways you can save money. Hotels often have cheaper rates during the weekdays, attractions offer deals or special discounts not available on the weekend, and even some food establishments offer better deals or special during the week as well.
  • Use a travel rewards credit card. If you are smart with your money, and don’t already have credit card debt, charging your vacation to a rewards credit card can be a smart choice to earn cash back, and perhaps save for your next vacation. Just be sure you can pay it all off in full so you don’t pay interest (which would negate the cash back you earned)!
  • Save money on gas. Read my post 8 ways how to save money on gas. You can also use an app like the GasBuddy app on your smartphone, so when it’s time to fill up, you are getting the best price around. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad to have my Walmart Family Mobile phone when we travel.Save money on your summer family road trips with the GasBuddy app on your Walmart Family Mobile phone
  • Buy food and pack it for the road. Grocery store prices are always going to beat gas station prices and other venues. Don’t throw away lots of extra money on the road by buying overpriced food. Pack car-friendly snack, sandwiches, treats, and drinks, purchased at your local grocery store of choice (perhaps using coupons even) to save money as you travel.
  • Use Reusable water bottles. Think about getting one with a filter, or your own additive if you don’t like straight water (or to mask that gas station’s drinking fountain water’s strange taste). But, don’t feel pressured to buy sodas with your meals on the road, or to buy plastic water bottles (because being a green consumer is good). Plus, good reusable water bottles (like this one) will keep your water cold for hours, even in a hot car. Plastic won’t do that.
  • Get cash back on your hotel bookings or rental car. If you are reserving hotels or rental cars online, you can get cash back from sites like ShopAtHome.com, Ebates, and Upromise.  Yes. Really. So your reservations made at Hotels.com, Expedia, Travelocity, or Orbitz (and dozens more) can earn you back 1-8% cash back. And if you are booking several nights, that can certainly add up, and help make your vacation more affordable.
  • Get cash back on your attraction tickets. Destinations like SeaWorld and Busch Gardens both offer 2-3% cash back when you book them through ShopAtHome.com’s link. Be sure if buying tickets online for various attractions that you are checking those cash back sites first before you buy!

2. Make Sure Your Car is Prepped

If you are going on a long road trip, you need to make sure your car is prepped and ready. That means getting oil changes, buying new tires, topping off fluids, and making sure the AC is working. If you are taking the trip with kids, it is worth your time to make sure your car seats are safely installed (see my Car Seat 101 post to know if it is), and know how to childproof your car.

And it’s a good idea to clean out your car before your trip too. I know that may seem silly, but cleanliness breeds cleanliness, so bring along or designate a garbage bag in your car for any and all trash you accumulate on your drive.

 3. Survive the Long Drive Better

I am not one for entertaining children 24/7, especially with electronic devices. Even on road trips I don’t think it needs to happen. If you are taking young kids on a road trip, see my Tips for Taking Road Trips with Young Kids post for other ideas on what you can do instead as you drive. That said, portable DVD players can be great for to watch a few movies on those long drives, because, well, who doesn’t love movies?

Another great idea, and one of my favorite things I did while truck driving with my dad, was listen to audiobooks. You can try Audible’s 30-Day Free Trial and get two free audiobooks which should last most if not all of your road trip.

You could also look at awesome toys that can be taken on the go like these LEGO Junior suitcases. But, classic car games like the Alphabet Car Game or singing songs, can be great, simple ways to pass the time. And don’t forget about sleep, well, for everyone but the driver. Bring the pillows.

And I love the ideas of this Road Trip Adventure in a Box from The Dating Divas!

4. Better Get Around Your Destination

Getting to your destination and then navigating around a new area is so easy to do with a great phone from Walmart that uses their Walmart Family Mobile service plan through T-Mobile’s network. Since their unlimited talk, text, and data plans are only $29.88/month (for the first line, and $5 off additional lines) which includes up to 1G of 4G LTE data, you are saving quite a bit for a quality phone service provider. And every phone already comes preloaded with Google Maps and GPS! Using their service will save you money each month, money which can be put toward your next vacation or a cool attraction on said road trip.Get a Walmart Family Mobile phone and save on your summer family road trips and have GPS navigation at your fingertips!

I have the ZTE ZMAX phone (currently $149; was $179) and my husband has the Galaxy Avant (currently $81.95; was $199.99). Walmart also have a bunch of other great phones at affordable prices too (although you can use your current phone with WFM too).

The feature my husband and I use on our Walmart Family Mobile phones the most is the GPS! Whether it’s finding a new destination in the next town over, or traveling into the closest major city, it is so helpful to look up destinations, map them out, and even look up deals on said destinations, all with 4G LTE speeds. Just don’t forget to pack a car phone charger!

Oh, and if you do some shopping while on vacation, several places are on the ShopKick App (check out this post to learn more about how it works), and it can be a great way to rack up some kicks while you are out!

How do you like to save money on your summer road trips? How do you better plan out, prep, and survive the long drives? How can Walmart Family Mobile help you with your trips? Leave a comment and let me know!

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  1. says

    These are awesome tips! We don’t have any road trips coming up soon, but I know we’ll need this come Christmas when we travel! Thanks so much!

  2. says

    Great tips. We just took our trip to Alaska and our plane tickets and the two nights in a hotel were free. We used frequent flyer miles and hotels.com nights to take care of those expenses. Also, if we are on vacation and staying in the same hotel the whole time, we try to get a room with a kitchen so we don’t have to eat in restaurants the whole time. Not only does this save money, but it’s healthier too.

  3. says

    We love travel rewards. We used the same cards for years and have taken so many flights using miles. Sad to say we are out of miles now, but are racking more up with using our CC and then paying it off each month.

  4. Susan says

    Great tips, especially packing snacks and taking refillable water bottles. Those 2 tips alone can save quite a bit of moolah..


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