How To: Road Trip With Kids + Save Money

how to travel with kids and save money

How To: Road Trip With Kids+Save Money

Before we make our move to Texas, we’re taking a road trip! People always look at me funny when I say we’re taking four kids on the road. No one in their right mind would want to be trapped in a car for 30+ hours over the span of a week with one kid, let alone four. How can we afford that? Why would we want to do that? We get all kinds of questions, so we want to break down how we travel with four kids and save money, so you can do the same with your family!

“I only get 18 summers with them, I want them to count”

There is something about being all together that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Of course I get overwhelmed sometimes, and of course I’m tired, but seeing their faces light up and laugh and learn on the road makes me, well, happy. No matter how “hard” it may seem, I actually enjoy it. We all do. We just love being together. Homeschooling has allowed us so much time together and I can see an even deeper relationship with each one of them, with me and even with each other. I only get eighteen summers with them, and I want them to count.

-6 States In 7 Days-

So, we’ve planned to pack us all into my Pathfinder and go to North Carolina! We can only drive about 6 hours a day before the kids get restless, so we’re stopping quite a few times on this 30 hour trip. We’ll be visiting Talladega, Chattanooga, Charlotte, Folly beach, Augusta, Atlanta, + Destin! So that’s 6 states in 7 days! Here’s a list of what we’re packing and how our family of six saves money on the road!

*THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS AND I WILL MAKE A SMALL COMMISSION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH THESE LINKS, AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Family Road Trip Checklist:

CLOTHING
  • Underwear (Depends on the number of days, but for this trip we’re packing 10 pairs per person, so that’s 50 for us, and lots of Pampers!)
  • Socks I love having socks on in our hotels. I love for my feet to feel clean and warm, so I bring about 4 pairs per person!
  • Pajamas If you want to go the extra step and be THAT mom, I recommend these!
  • 4-5 Outfits each (depending how long the trip is, but we wash clothes when we’re traveling! For the girls two dresses each, sandals, two shorts & tee shirt sets, swimsuit, + pajamas. For the boys, two nice outfits, two comfy shorts + tees, swim suits, + pajamas!)
  • Tennis Shoes for walking a lot! We tend to walk whenever we can when were traveling, so we need to be comfy!
  • Sandals+Flip Flops (At least one dressy shoe + one casual, like flip flops)
  • Hats + Sunscreen We love using Sunbum spray sunscreen!
  • Sunglasses
TOILETRIES
  • Make Up
  • Toothbrushes+Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • Soap
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Hairspray
  • Dry Shampoo Not Your Mother’s dry shampoo is a game changer! I use this stuff so much. I love any great product that saves me time getting ready as a mom!
  • Hairties
  • Q-Tips
  • Lotion Every One Lotion is amazing! It’s pure, natural, and organic! Being in the sun a lot can really dry out your skin, so we all use this when we travel.
MISCELLANEOUS
  • License/ID
  • Debit Card
  • First Aid Kit
  • Phone Chargers
  • Ipad
  • Handheld Games
  • Car Trash Can this is so handy on the road with so many people! I’m a neat freak when it comes to my car, so this is a necessity!
  • Ice Chest (with lunches + snacks + waters + juice boxes)
  • Outdoor Blanket We have an oversized, water-resistant blanket that fits all of us for picnics! We love it! Definitely recommend getting these for beach trips, hiking, anything outdoors!
  • Beach Towels
  • Beach Umbrella
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Dishwasher Bottle Basket
  • Diapers/Pull Ups/Wipes
  • Stroller
  • Pack n Play Something small, and easy to put up and down, like this Joovy travel pack n play is so helpful for the littles, when were outdoors a while.
  • Travel Pillows

How to save money traveling:

BOOK HOTELS AHEAD OF TIME

This gives you time to shop around for the best prices. We use the Bonvoy app by Marriott and get a discount just for being members! We’ve found that Residence Inn’s have the best bang for our buck. 2 bedroom suites, sleeps 6 has a full kitchen, usually under $200 a night, is a win in our book! Airbnb is also a great way to save! Book in advance to guarantee your reservation! Which brings me to the next way to save money.

PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO GO + GET PRICES

When we plan a trip, I get on my google maps and add every stop we plan to make. I’m a little overboard in planning things sometimes, but I don’t hear any complaints over here! Purchase the tickets ahead of time for the attractions you want to see. A lot of places have online discounts if you buy ahead of time! A few dollars here + there really add up!

COOK IN YOUR ROOM

Sometimes. I don’t mean we go on trips and never eat out, but eating out three times a day with six people is not healthy, or cheap. So we bring an ice chest, (usually with healthy snacks like kind bars, water bottles, juice boxes, etc) for the car so we don’t have to stop, except for bathroom breaks, and it saves us about $150 a day! We try to cook at least once a day, usually dinner, when we get back to our rooms. Sometimes, we stop at a market, buy what we want for dinner, check into the hotel, and put it in the crockpot! This saves so much time! We can go out during the day + have a home cooked meal when we get back! Pick the closest grocery store over fast food. Everything will be a fraction of the costs of fast food! We also eat breakfast at the hotel we’re staying at, if it’s available!

PLAN WHERE YOU’LL GO OUT TO EAT

Look for restaurants with kid’s eat free nights, free desserts or appetizers coupons, + sign up for restaurant memberships!

TRAVEL IN THE OFF SEASON

Or during the week, instead of weekends, if you can. Hotels are usually much cheaper when it’s not peak season and it’s a week day.

DONT BUY TOO MANY SOUVENIRS

Places selling souvenirs in touristy areas, hike up the prices of everything. We have figured out a way to save money in tourist areas for our family. We buy one, simple and small item that reminds us of the place. Whether that be a keychain, a pin, or magnet, etc, then we put it in our memory mason jar. One day it’ll be full of big memories! This keeps us from buying a bunch of stuff we don’t need, but still helps us keep a small piece of the places we’ve seen! It’s a fun way to go back and remember the memories we’ve made together!

USE THE GAS BUDDY APP

A handy little app that tells you where the cheapest gas is in your area! Once again, those pretty pennies add up!

FIND FREE (OR CHEAP) FAMILY ATTRACTIONS

Most state parks are free or only a couple dollars each for admission. They allow you to bring your own food, so that saves even more money. Beaches, festivals, concerts and some museums are free too! Just look in your area for “free things to do with kids in…”

STICK TO THE BUDGET

This is the most important thing to do! Make a list, with prices down to every penny, and stick to it!

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XOXO, Mama Morse

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