On A Budget : Road Trips
We are definitely a road trip family, and living in Colorado does provide access to endless short road trips, full of endless adventure. But really, no matter where you live, there is always somewhere interesting and beautiful within a six hours drive.
This summer, instead of enrolling your children in endless extracurricular activity (like camps, lessons, etc.), why not take a few road trips? They are likely more memorable, and will be a time to create memories together as a family.
Having the flexibility to take road trips begins with having a reliable vehicle. It is important to find the best auto loan interest rates if you're financing a vehicle. If you're able to pay cash for a vehicle, that is even better.
In the past we always purchased our vehicles with cash, but this meant that we had older cars, and they did require more spontaneous maintenance. This also made it challenging to take long drives or short road trips. We often chose to rent vehicles when visiting family. Once Ester was born we decided to finance a newer vehicle, and we also decided to share a vehicle instead of having two. While it's annoying to have a car payment, it is wonderful to have a reliable vehicle that allows for endless adventures. We hope to payoff our van soon, and we also plan to keep it well maintained for several years of use.
A reliable family vehicle is the first step to adopting a road trip lifestyle.
Taking a family road trip doesn't have to interrupt your budget with severity. If fact, we find it to be the easiest and most relaxing way to travel, and also the least expensive. Flights can be pricey, coordinating schedules, parking, and dealing with packing for the airport can be overwhelming.
This is how we plan for a road trip, even if it's a last minute, "let's leave today" decision.
1. Everyone in the family gets their own duffle bag with enough clothing for the number of days traveling, plus a couple of extra outfits (especially for the little kids).
2. Everyone brings their pillow. a small blanket, and a favorite sweater/sweatshirt.
3. We pack all the snacks available, sandwiches for the first day on the road, and water bottles. (Our favorite sandwich is oven-baked crispy bacon, raw cheddar, sprouted bread, and each person's favorite spreads.)
4. We clean out the van entirely and bring a couple of trash bags. We also have a stocked cleaning bag/emergency bag that we keep in the van (paper towels, multipurpose cleaner, baby wipes, extra trash bags, extra diapers, bandaids, and toilet paper). We store a canvas "dirty laundry" bag in the van as well.
5. We have an entertainment bin with books, toys and DVDs that we stock before leaving.
6. Eating out is limited to twice/day, and we try to share meals and keep meals relatively healthy. The healthier we eat while traveling the better we all feel, and ultimately we treat one another better. For example, instead of soda we will stop a buy a few bottles of Kombucha and pour it over ice.
7. We only road trip to areas that are within our budget. If AirBnB prices are too high for one town we will choose another.
8. We look for national monuments, state parks, national parks, and outdoor landmarks to visit while on the road. We make as many stops as necessary, even if it means venturing off of the path to find "The World's Largest Czech Egg" haha. During colder seasons we sometimes have to make stops at Walmart or general stores to give our little one time to run and stretch.
9. We don't drive in the middle of the night, and try to stick with our natural sleeping pattern. It seems to work best for everyone, especially the little one. We try to emulate rest at home when away from home, and there are less meltdowns and easier long hours in the van.
10. We play a variety of music, have stretches of silence, watch movies, read books, and play games.
Road trips are wonderful times for families to see the country together.
*This is a collaborative post.