Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Five Frugal Road Trip Tips with Children

Travelling with kids- three words to strike fear in anyone's heart!

We recently went on a quick road trip to see family, and as it was over a long weekend we knew we would have to be prepared as most shops were closed and motels were booked up.

Planning a road trip on a budget and with kids doesn't have to be hard- I am sharing five tips today to help your journey go smoothly.

Set a budget and pay cash
It is tempting to pay for your entire vacation using your credit card, but making a budget and paying cash where possible will make your finances a lot easier in the long run. Set a budget for petrol, accommodation, entertainment and food and stick to it! Letting your whole family know of the budget will stop everyone from asking for extra coffees at the petrol station and kids asking to go to certain attractions. In fact, getting the kids involved with planning your journey will help avoid any last minute melt downs. If they know in advance what the itinerary is, they can request where they want to go and you can work it in if the budget allows. This is also a great idea if the family all wants to do different things- planning an itinerary and a budget can help avoid arguments and the stress that comes with last minute decisions. For instance, I wanted to go to the new Cadbury Cafe for a hot chocolate so we knew to budget in a morning tea stop there.

Visit the library
The library is a fabulous place to find some guidebooks on your destination, as well as find some magazines and books to keep the kids entertained on the road. Another great idea is to get out some audiobooks to listen to during the journey, or even a new CD of a favourite musician or band.

Take your own food
One of the largest factors in our budget is food. As someone with a food allergy, it makes it hard to stop in at a fast food restaurant and order off the menu, but the convenience of ready to go food is a lifesaver on the journey. I sit down with a calendar and plan what we will have for each meal while we are away. I check each motel for kitchen facilities- if they have a toaster then I know to take a loaf of bread and some peanut butter for breakfast! In fact, I don't stay in accommodation without a kitchen- just my personal preference but it definitely saves money. I make my grocery list in advance and go shopping, sticking to the list! Packing your own fruit salad, making muffins and re-bagging bulk snacks make travel easier, rather than stopping at each food place on the way to pick up something. Nut mixes, home-made granola bars such as these ones from or a delicious smoothie are all ideal for healthy snacks on the road.

Plan ahead for the car ride
To stop the "are we there yet" and fighting, I like to create a fun bag of activities to be earned during the car ride. Snacks are a great distraction for kids in the car but mix it up with activity books, little toys and other things to keep them entertained in the backseat until you reach your destination. I simply used these cute printables and laminated a sheet with all of the tasks. Each time the boys ticked off one of the ovals, I gave them a bag.

Visit free attractions
Even though you may have some bucket list destinations on your budget, it is great to space these out with things you can do for free. Simple bushwalks, a visit to the beach or a stroll into the city centre all cost nothing and fill in time. Museums, landmarks and playgrounds all work well with children too, as stopping there to give them a run around works well after being cooped up in the car!

I hope these tips help you to have a fun, frugal family holiday in 2016.

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