Tips for Frugal Road Trips

In four days, we are moving across the country.
Four. Days.
That’s pretty soon!

I remember when we first found out we were moving, we had 31 days and I made a paper chain with the kids so we could count down the days visually.
This especially helped Eliana, who has pretty much no concept of time yet at age 2.
(She knows that later is not right now…and that early is when we get up in the morning. That’s about it. )
Time has flown by and now we’re just tying up the last bits of things that need to be done.

Last night I was trying to think of some good travel activities to do in the car (since we’ll be in ours for five days) and here’s what I came up with:

~Use your imagination!
Games like I spy, counting games (count the red trucks that go by), the ABC game, things like that are a great way to pass the time. Even little kids can play. Best of all, they’re free!

~Activity books, coloring supplies, stickers, pipe cleaners, and tape are all great things to keep your kids busy for a bit while you’re cruising along in the car. I would recommend not giving them all of these things at once- spread them out so you can do different activities at different times and they won’t get bored with them.

~I have each kid pack their “special bag” which is a small sized messenger bag; full of toys of their choice.
These are the only toys they get to play with during the trip. (and in this case, all of their other toys will be in a suitcase on top of the car so if we need to we can change them out.)
The kids are responsible for choosing their toys, keeping track of their toys and picking them up when they spill. This teaches them that they need to be careful which toys they pick and careful that they don’t lose any!

~Books books books!
We’re bringing two tote bags full of books with us for the kids to read to themselves, and a few chapter books for me to read out loud to the entire family as we drive. We’re going to be reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Ronald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, as well as one of the kids’ favorites; Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad.
I’m excited to read to everyone, although I may lose my voice from so much reading!
It helps pass the time so much more quickly when you’re caught up in a book, and (bonus!) sometimes the little ones fall asleep while mommy is reading aloud.

~When you stop at a rest stop, make sure to run around, stretch your body, throw a frisbee back and forth, play tag! Make stops fun, even if they aren’t for very long. You could even bring bubbles and blow them for your youngsters to chase and pop. Anything to break up the monotony of being cooped up in the car. Let the kids get some energy out and go crazy for a few minutes.

~Don’t eat at fast food places! Pack your own food!
This will save your money and your stomach. 🙂 We always bring a cooler (even just a little one) and stock it up with lunch meat and sandwich fixings, homemade snacks like granola, cookies, rolls, carrot sticks, fruit, maybe a bit of chocolate.
If you don’t have room for a larger cooler, stop at a grocery store and get food for a few meals instead of throwing your money and health away by stopping at those legendary golden arches next to the freeway.
Even rotisserie chicken and rolls are healthier than a Big Mac.

~Make sure to wear comfy clothes.
Jeans are not a friend to road trips. (Have you ever tried sitting for 9 hours straight wearing jeans? NOT comfortable). I guess stretchy jeans would probably be okay, but if your gut is getting cut in two, you’re gonna be cranky!
Wear yoga or gym pants, lounge pants or a knit skirt (if you’re a girl, of course!). If you aren’t driving, wear shoes that you can slip off easily. If you’re comfy, you’re more likely to be happier.

Make sure to have a nice assortment of music while travelling. We’re “old fashioned” in that we don’t have an iphone or mp3 player so we use cds and make sure to have a good mix of upbeat, good driving music. You don’t want to be stuck with slow tunes when you’re tired!! And, of course if you get sick of the music you brought, you can always try the local radio station. Although, more often than not the only ones that come in are country western. 😉

Well! Hopefully these tips will help you on your next road trip. Hopefully I can remember them all in 4 days when we leave, and our road trip will be more fun and less stressful.
Best of road tripping to you!!

One thought on “Tips for Frugal Road Trips

  1. Good advice Becca! I have just a few things that worked for us that you didn't mention: A skein of yarn can keep kids busy for a long time – teach the older ones to 'finger crochet', younger ones can tie knots or roll the yarn into a ball. And for travel food, bagel sandwiches always worked well for us – you can make them up ahead of time with meat/cheeses, keep them in the cooler (right in the bagel bag), and just add mustard/whatever when it's time to eat. They don't squish like bread does, and they're yummy. Praying for your trip!

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