As a family, we road trip quite a lot. It’s a ton of fun, but also a lot of work (for me at least)! Over the years, I’ve found a variety of ways to save time and money and I’m finally sitting down to share those family-friendly travel hacks with you!
Travel Hack #1: It’s All About How You Pack
I am not a fan of having too many bags. I joke that I could have never been a socialite because I need to fit everything (from the entire family) into one suitcase. I’m constantly asked how we fit it all so I finally put together a quick video to show you my method. So many people find rolling your clothes effective, but I have found that when you have 5 people’s clothing, it’s way too bulky. My method is more about keeping things flat so you can layer and fit it all into one bag. Obviously it depends on how bulky your clothing is, and how many days you’re traveling, but you will be surprised how much you can fit into one suitcase, if done right!
#2: Plan, Plan, Plan
I’m a planner. Always have been, always will be. It’s mostly about feeling in control of all situations, but also about making sure that we use our time wisely and experiencing as much as we can, during our stay. I make a list of everything local that we want to see, check their hours and plan our entire trip before we even leave. Of course, things happen or we may hear about something new and the schedule may change, but for the most part, it helps make our trip so much more smooth when we have an itinerary.
#3: Backpack with Activities and Chargers
Each of our girls always pack their own backpacks with activities that they need to keep them busy. Whether it’s a book, a coloring book and crayons, a puzzle book or their devices, they feel less inclined to ask “are we there yet” every five minutes, if they have plenty of things to keep themselves busy. They are also responsible for packing and unpacking their own backpacks which takes some responsibility off of me! Of course, when they were younger, I would have to make sure they packed the right things and not a bag full of stuffed animals (that totally happened more than once). But now that they are old enough, they are great at choosing the right things! They even remember to bring their chargers!
#4: Bring Food from Home
If your hotel has a refrigerator and/or microwave, pack some easy travel food! We often take cut up veggies, bread, cold cuts, peanut butter, our water bottles and a couple of gallons of water to fill them up. We also bring easy breakfast foods (if the hotel doesn’t offer a free breakfast or isn’t all-inclusive), such as yogurt, oatmeal or cereal. We try to eat out only for dinner which saves so much money!
#5: Use Non-Toll Roads As Much as Possible
Map your route and if you are able to take the non-toll roads, take them! We can save $40-$50 by switching up the route just a bit. It’s so worth it and you can use that savings as a little extra spending money on your trip! Every little bit helps!
#6: Make a Stop or Two
If our destination is more than four hours away, we try to find a city to stop mid-way. It’s a great way to explore a new place and also gives you the chance to stretch your legs and use the restroom. If we are taking a longer road trip, sometimes we will stay over in that city so that we can explore or visit one of their bigger local attractions. Less time in the car in one stretch makes for less cranky kids (and adults).
#7: Use an App to Find the Best Gas Prices
You’d probably agree that the most important travel hacks will save you money. We very rarely use the highway gas stations as they tend to charge more for the convenience. There are apps out there like Gas Buddy that will help you find the most inexpensive gas prices along your route. Make sure to plan to stop at those stations! You can save so much money that way, especially if you have to fill up your tank multiple times during your road trip.
#8: The Easiest Way to Bring Home Laundry
I struggled for years with the amount of time it took to pack up to go back home. There were always dirty clothes all over the floor and while I tried to pack it all into those hotel provided plastic laundry bags, 1) they were plastic and we are trying our best to do better for our planet and 2) they rip so easily, so we often wound up with dirty clothes spilling out in the car (yuck). A couple of months ago, I was watching a friend’s Instagram stories and she was talking about Swoop Bags. I immediately had an idea!
I thought if I could open up the swoop bag and leave it flat in the corner of our hotel room, we could use it as our laundry area. We instructed the kids (and ourselves) to drop our dirty laundry in the middle of the flattened Swoop bag. When it was time to pack up, I just swooped the bag, tied it and voila… it literally saved me all of the aggravation of picking up all of the clothes and trying to find something to carry it all in.
Best part?! When I got home, I just opened and dumped it all into the washing machine. I’m so impressed with it! I can’t wait to get some more for the girls toys. They are going to make cleanup so much easier for them!
I hope our travel hacks will help to save you both time and money! Do you have any travel hacks that your family have come up with over the years? Share them below! We’d love to hear!
*We received a free Swoop bag in exchange for our review. All opinions are my own.
That Swoop is a great idea. I usually just put all the dirtys in a suitcase
Oh that swoop bag is amazing!!! I can think of a few things I’d love that for actually.
These are some great ideas. We wish we could travel more. We will be over the summer at least! I’m all about saving money. Luckily my kids are older and can basically entertain themselves. Praise chocolate.
We road tripped a lot as a family growing up. We would pack my parents and us 5 kids in our 1974 Volkswagon bus and drive from San Jose, CA to Colorado. We would never stay in a hotel, we always stayed the night a friend’s house on the way. We always made food and brought it in the car, so we didn’t stop and eat at places, only for gas and to stretch our legs. Oh the simple life back then. My parents didn’t have much money, but were still able to provide amazing travel memories.
This theme is always an evergreen because you never stop traveling. I save the blog post and read it again before every departure!
Road trips are the best but they do require tons of planning with kids. Loving that laundry bag.
I love all these tips! Especially number 7. Gas buddy is great!