Taking inexpensive road trips with a large family doesn’t have to overwhelming. They also don’t have to dry up your savings account either. Honestly, I put traveling on the back burner for a long time because I thought it would cost too much. I was thinking through the lens of things I had seen on social media and… yeah… no. While hopping on a plane and going overseas is ideal for some people, I started to find adventure near my own backyard – and that’s where road trips came in!
What is a road trip, really?
The idea of a road tip is traveling by automobile, typically for a long distance. While that may be the “official” definition, a road trip for our family sometimes consists of a day drive to a few country towns over. Other times they involve visiting a different state. Ideally, a road trip can be just as creative as you want to make it. And that’s where my best tips and suggestions for keeping it inexpensive come in handy.
How to take Inexpensive Road Trips with a Large Family
Decide to go.
Before taking any road trip, you must first decide that it’s something you actually want to do. There was a period of time where we enjoyed being homebodies. Our adventures with a growing family were venturing into our backyard, picking flowers, and taking neighborhood walks. But then we started getting the inkling to venture out more and the ideas started rolling.
I briefly talked about the perspective of traveling through the eyes of social media. Do one quick travel search on Pinterest, Instagram or Google and you’ll find all kinds of exotic locations and trips that cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. Again, those are great, but when we’re talking about loading up a van full of kiddos, we need to KISS – keep it SIMPLY sweety.
I started by asking the hubs places he’d like to go. For him, anything woodsy and rustic would be a trip well spent. For me, anything beachy and ocean is my sweet spot. And for the kids, we had a range of answers from volcanoes to wild animals. In other words, get your family involved in the process early by asking what they’d like to travel and see. It’ll make the next step much easier!
Start researching places nearby.
It may surprise you to find what’s hidden in towns and cities near you. We just so happen to live in a unique spot in south-western Kentucky, and puts us a 30-minute to 1-hour drive from 3 different states. There are infamous cave systems, Dinosaur World, a legit castle, and more that are all a drive away. (I’ll be doing a Things to Do in Kentucky post soon.)
As you find places you think you’d like to visit, write them down. Don’t forget to check for state parks, museums, and other things that would be free. That’s one of the main keys to keeping road trips inexpensive.
Plan your road trip!
This is where it gets exciting. Whether you want to start with a day trip to a town over or go for a 3-day road trip and stay in another state, it’s time to plan for it! I basically take all the previous suggestions I mentioned above and put them in action like this:
- We decide that we’re in fact taking a road trip.
- Then, we check the calendar for the best time to go.
- We also talk about places we’d like to visit within the time frame we carved out (the longer we stay somewhere, the more we can do).
- I look for lodging (if we’re staying overnight). (I’ll have another post for this as well!)
- I make a rough itinerary of where we’re going and things we’ll be doing on our road trip.
- Then we take the journey!
Inexpensive Road Trip Tips
Decide on your budget beforehand.
All trips will cost something. At the very least you’ll have gas expenses. There are also food and beverage costs. In addition to those foundational costs, you may have other expenses depending on any activities and attractions you’re planning to do during your road trip. Before worrying about those, set a budget first and decide if it’s concrete or adjustable. If you want to make sure you have the money for your road trip, create a savings account and start tracking it!
Go for all things cheap.
Okay, maybe not all things, but there are several things that you can intentionally look for the best prices on. For example, consider using an app like Gas Buddy to locate the cheapest fuel prices along your route. If your trip includes lodging, look for the best possible place for the size of your family. We have personally found it more economical (and amenity-friendly) to stay in an Airbnb when we travel. While planning activities, look for the freebie places like local museums, nature trails, and exhibits.
Another way to stay cheap is to meal plan. It may seem easier and more convenient to hit up gas stations and fast food joints for a bite to eat, but meal planning will save you much more money.
Make your road trip about the family.
While it’s nice to do all the things and see all the things, sometimes a road trip is the most fun when it family-centered. This could be opting in for a family picnic at the park versus going out to eat. On our road trips, we like to pack snack and picnic foods to (1) prevent from eating out too much and (2) save money!
Family Road Trip Planning Pack
I don’t know about you, but I love all things printables and planners. Now that we’ll be hitting the road much more, I just had to have something to help me keep all my thoughts and road trip ideas in one place. I created a super cute printable Family Road Trip Planning Pack, and you can have it for free! It includes the following templates:
- Family Road Trip Bucket List
- Road Trip Planner (Monthly Layout)
- Road Trip Tracker (Yearly Layout)
- My Daily Road Trip Planner
- Road Trip Savings Tracker
- Road Trip Meal Plan
Simply click the words below, add the planner to your cart and checkout! Print and use them as needed!
Use the tips in this post and the free resource to help you plan inexpensive road trips with your large family!
Psst… looking for summer activities to do with your kids?
I joined forces with some of my fellow homeschool bloggers to bring you some super fun Summer Ideas and Activities for Kids. Check them out!
10 Unusual Ways to Homeschool Over the Summer from In All You Do
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STEAM Subscription Boxes for Summer FUN! from Homeschool On the Range
The use of hands-on projects is a great way to reinforce concepts learned while having fun! Some of these boxes have fantastic coupon codes for first time buyers, so be sure to check the purchase information and look for the code!
Activities to Fight Boredom
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Budget-Friendly Summer Fun (for you and the kids!) from Hope In The Chaos
Summer is coming and if you are looking to have some fun without breaking the bank, look no further than these ideas for budget-friendly summer fun!
Bucket List Ideas, Morning Time Ideas, and More!
Homeschool Summer Bucket List from Whole Child Homeschool
While some things are starting to open back up, it’s still so hard to make plans for the summer. Get this printable Summer Bucket List with 12 fun & mostly free educational activities to do at home.
Life Skills Mega List for Kids from Stand Up, Reach Out
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Use Morning Time to Beat the Summer Slide! from Everyday Graces Homeschool
The thought of “summer slide” is enough to make any parent cringe. But we’ve got the simple solution to keep your kids engaged in learning over the summer so those wheels stay greased and the cries of “I’m bored!” stay at bay.
Summer Music Lessons for Holidays & Special Days from Music in Our Homeschool
You’ll find 12 music lessons in the “Summer Music Lessons for Holidays & Special Days” online course–each one only 15 minutes in length and perfect for elementary ages. Each lesson contains the music lesson, videos, a printable, and an online quiz that relates to the special summer holiday. The holidays and special days included are Flag Day, International Day of the African Child, Juneteenth, Father’s Day, World Day of Music, the First Day of Summer, Global Beatles Day, Canada Day, Independence Day, National Video Game Day, Harry Potter’s Birthday, and National Radio Day.
Read Alouds, Bug Activities, and More!
Summer Read Alouds for Kids from Simple Living Mama
Summer is the perfect time to cool down with a great book with your kids. Take a look at some of these great books to read aloud this summer!
Insect & Bug Activities for Kids from My Joy-Filled Life
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Summer Slide Activities for All Ages from The Homeschool Cafe
Summer is the best…time to continue to have fun in your homeschool, create memories and have a blast while learning with this packed Summer Activity Pack. It is stuffed with games, treasure hunts, worksheets and more for reading, writing, math and critical thinking.
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Who wants to slave away over a hot stove all summer long? Not me! I want to eat well, but I also want to play. That’s why I keep this list of delicious, nutritious, cheap & EASY summer meals handy. No stove required!
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