I’ve decided to make Tuesday my day to share some of my favorite travel tips with you. Since we have driven to Florida almost every year since 2003 for vacation, my family is well versed in the world of “travel by car”. Hopefully you find some of these tips helpful!
Before you leave:
- Get your car serviced a week before your trip
There’s nothing worse than to have car trouble and break down halfway to your destination…believe me, it’s happened to us. It is very important that you take your car to be serviced at least a week before your trip. This includes getting the tires checked, oil changed, motor tuned etc… All the goodies that keep your vehicle running smooth and safely. Remember, it’s carrying precious cargo – your family!
We have owned every updated copy of this book since our first long road trip many years ago. It lists every exit for every single major interstate in the country along with what is at that exit. So, no more driving around aimlessly looking for your favorite fast food joint. With the book’s help, you know exactly which exit to take and how many more miles until you get there. It also list shopping centers, hotels, auto service locations, banks, rest areas and more. Its only around $18 and definitely a lifesaver. I know that we would never go on a road trip without it!
- Buy your vacation gift cards at Kroger and save on gas!
Gas prices are so ridiculous right now, who wouldn’t want to save at the pump? Right now, Kroger is offering 4x points on gift card purchases. These points translate over into $$ off per gallon at Shell gas stations. What I did when we went to Disney last year is I purchased a few hundred dollars in Disney gift cards. I knew I was going to use them for dining and souvenirs so it made sense. Then, on the drive there I cashed in the points at the pump and saved on each fill up. Even if you aren’t going to a Disney park, you can still buy Visa, Mastercard or American Express gift cards that you can use anywhere. You can also buy Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway etc… and use them to eat with while on the road. Depending on how many gift cards you purchase and how many points you rack up, you can save up to $1 per gallon. These days, that is HUGE.
- Coupon shop to stock up on snacks a few months prior
I don’t know about your family, but mine LOVE to have snacks on a road trip! Even though it is getting harder and harder to shop effectively with coupons, if you track sales closely you can still snag some great snack deals. Start buying more than one paper per Sunday starting about 3-4 months before your trip (or ask friends for their unused coupon inserts). This way you can buy several items at a rock bottom price. Sign up on couponing sites such as Couponmom.com or TheGroceryGame.com (paid site) and keep an eye on sales with coupon matchups for snack items that you can take in the car. I usually start a few months in advance, buying the snacks and hiding them J from everyone until the day before we leave. If I didn’t hide them, we wouldn’t have any snacks…. This will save you a ton of money from having to stop at gas stations to purchase snack foods.
- If your car has space enough, pack a cooler
When the kids were younger we had a minivan. It had removable bucket seats in the back, which was convenient so to create extra space for luggage and – a cooler! On the morning of the trip, I would get up early and make bagel sandwiches and my family’s Italian favorite of sweet peppers and egg sandwiches. I’d pack fruit and water bottles in the cooler as well. This was sufficient for breakfast and lunch, saving us from having to stop and spend money on fast food. And, much healthier!
While on the road
- Take frequent “stretch” breaks
Blot clots are very dangerous, so you definitely want to take several short breaks to get out of the car, stretch and walk around. You can also take a baby aspirin every few hours to keep your blood from clotting. I know that by the end of a long car ride my feet get very swollen. I like to elevate them for a few hours afterwards if possible to relieve the swelling. Also, avoid eating too many salty foods in the car. How about a little roadside yoga? Hey, I’d do it!
- Keep your windshield clean
Every time you stop for gas, clean your windshield with the scraper. While driving, use your car windshield washer every few hours as well. Dead bugs, dirt and debris on your windshield can be a safety hazard. It can cause your vision to be obstructed or glare at night.
- Use AC only when absolutely necessary
If you are on a summer road trip, use your AC only during the hottest hours of the day. Try to keep it on the lowest setting possible to maintain a comfortable temperature in the car. In the early mornings and late evenings, shut it off and roll down the windows. Enjoy the breeze! This will help your car get better gas mileage, ultimately saving you money!
- Use a traffic app
I recently downloaded an app for my iPhone called INRIX Traffic. I have the free version and it works just fine. It shows traffic back-ups and accidents on your route. I’m sure there are other apps that work good as well. I don’t know about you but I hate being stuck in traffic. Avoiding stop and go traffic will save you time and money!
So there you have it. I hope that if your family is planning a road trip this summer that my tips help you stretch your dollar further. Maybe I’ve given you some ideas that you haven’t thought of before. In any case, enjoy the time away from the “real world” with friends and/or family and unwind for a while. Have a great summer!