We hope you had a fantastic Canada Day! With the long weekend behind us, we’re thinking ahead to the rest of the summer. It seemed like the perfect time to talk road trips. Today we’re sharing an article from Danielle Connelly packed with money-saving tips for your summer getaway.
Road trips are a huge part of summer family fun. Whether it’s a smaller day trip or a few weeks holiday, costs add up quickly in the name of enjoyment, especially when there are kids in tow. With a little bit of preparation, a road trip really can be an inexpensive way to enjoy time with your family this summer – from start to finish! In this article, we share a few tips to ensure the open road doesn’t translate into an open wallet.
Road Trip Preparation
Before you leave on your road trip, spend a bit of time on the internet, at your local library or calling 1-800 number. Research local tourism authorities, attractions and hotels en route and for your destination. If you have older kids, this is a great way to get them involved in the planning and preparation. Do searches online using key words and phrases like: “kids eat free”, “free family fun”, “free activities” plus the name of your destination.
The road trip preparation doesn’t end there. Call the local provincial, state or city tourism centre. Ask if they have any promotions or coupon books for activities and venues that you’d like to do and see along the way. Ask the locals, too. Head to sites like Craigslist.org and in the local baby/kid section ask for help looking for fun, inexpensive things to do in the area.
So Much Planning!
Check your memberships while you’re at it. Places like Science World have reciprocating memberships, meaning your family membership here will get you into participating science centres around the globe. BCAA memberships can offer great savings as well, so check their website or call customer service. Also, if you collect Air Miles, Aeroplan or even Save On More points, you can sometimes save on accommodation or activities if you cash in your points. And don’t forget those group buying sites. If you you play your cards right, you could be dining and getting entertained along the way for half the price you’d normally pay! Some of our favorite sites include Groupon, TeamBuy, StealtheDeal and WagJag.
Make a list before you pack for your road trip and check it off before you go for big ticket items you don’t want to have to buy on your trip. Camera, cell/camera chargers, prescription meds, a well stocked first aid kit, travel membership cards, coupons you’ve collected, even swim floaties and other items all add up if they’re bought en route.
Hit the Road
One of our biggest money-saving tips for your road trip is to pack snacks for the family. It’s always fun to stop for ice cream or treats on the way, but if you have to stop every time someone hollers they’re hungry, it quickly takes a bite out of the trip budget. Pack fun foods the kids might not always get at home. And don’t forget to shop at local big box or grocery stores to stock up depleted supplies. Also bring along reusable water bottles; any convenience or coffee shop en route will easily fill them back up for you.
Stock up on a few inexpensive toys and treats and organize homemade road trip games to keep kids occupied. For the little ones, have them spot common items and keep track (certain coloured cars, types of trucks or even farm animals). For the bigger ones have them keep track of different license plates, landmarks and other fun things. The one with the most at the end of the day wins a prize (or let everyone win something just for participating). Luckily with online mapping, a good old road map and GPS, gone are the days of driving around aimlessly off route with everyone losing their cool and the gas being guzzled away. And if you do get lost or off course, enjoy the adventure and stop and ask for directions!
At Your Destination
You’ve finally arrived. Now it’s time to put all your research to good use and have fun! Here are a couple of extra tips to help.
Grab a copy of the local community paper, they’re often filled with local activities and coupons for eating out that you might not have found online. Put your kids in charge – if they’re older, give them a daily “allowance” and let them take charge of planning the day. It’s amazing how much less whining you get when the kids are actively involved in the planning (and spending).
If a road trip isn’t in the cards for you this summer, take heart. All of these tips can be used just as effectively for a staycation right here in Vancouver.
Danielle Connelly (aka – Mother of a Deal) has been deal hunting and writing about it for over five years at www.motherofadeal.com. A Canadian website dedicated to all things deal related, from money saving tips to coupon codes and freebies … it’s all about helping moms in Canada save money (and time!).