With summer around the corner, many families are considering their next vacation. Vacation can be a wonderful time to get away from work and hectic schedules and to bond as a family. They can also be money traps that can get hard-working individuals far off their budgets and even into debt. However, the family that plans ahead can find frugal ways to cut costs on their next road trip without cutting out fun.

Beware of Food Traps

Food seems very insignificant to the person planning a trip. In fact, for most, it is only an afterthought. However, when one considers three meals a day plus a couple of snacks, all of which are eaten out, the costs can skyrocket for a family. Eating at a sit-down restaurant can increase costs further when one adds on a tip. Consider saving money on two smaller meals each day as well as on snacks, and only eat out for dinner. Breakfast can be easily managed with cold cereal, yogurt or oatmeal for families who have access to a microwave or mini fridge in their hotel rooms. For those without these conveniences, a breakfast bar and juice box can do the trick. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches or prepackaged tuna salad on bread or crackers can make a tasty and nutritious lunch. Bags of popped chips, whole wheat crackers, 100% fruit snacks or nuts can make delicious snacks and can be paired with a dark chocolate candy bar for those with a sweet tooth.

Choose Reliable Personal Transportation

Because the gas price has gone down compared to a few summers ago, many families are opting for car trips rather than air travel. Therefore, families going on road trips need to consider the best routes and times to travel to avoid excessive traffic jams and congestion, which can significantly pull down gas mileage. In addition, one should have the family vehicle fully checked over before heading out for a long trip. Small problems can turn into significant costs when they are not taken care of immediately. For example, driving with a dirty air filter can shave 10% off the gas mileage. In addition, driving on tires that are not filled to the correct pressure can decrease gas mileage. Individuals should also check tire tread, fluid levels, headlights, brake lights and transmission fluid levels. Individuals who do not have a reliable family car should consider visiting professional like those at this St George KIA dealership, and investing in a new one for overall savings over time.

Get Deals on Hotels and Attractions

Families should be sure to book hotels and entertainment ahead of time to avoid terrible rates on last-minute sales. Most families can find great rates on their own by visiting popular websites, such as Priceline, Expedia and Travelocity. For some major trips, a travel agent can actually be worthwhile because he or she will able to find the best overall deals and can often find all-inclusive options. To save on entertainment, a simple online search for the attraction with the word “discount” attached can unlock great savings, or Groupon is another great option. Local visitor’s bureaus may offer coupons for popular area attractions as well.

Families should be setting money aside all year long to spend on a vacation and should be careful to stay on budget while away from home. A prepaid credit card can be a great way to ensure that costs do not exceed the planned amount. With a little extra research and some hands-on preparation, families planning road trips can shave costs from food, travel, lodging and entertainment.


About the Author:

Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2