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Take an Affordable Family Road Trip

by Susan Barnes

Sep 24, 2017

Soloway | Dreamstime


The road trip is as American as baseball and apple pie. Even with the ability to arrive in your destination in a fraction of time by flying, there’s just something about the call of the open road that is appealing.

In fact, according to AAA, more than one-third of Americans are planning to take a vacation of 50 miles or more away from home this year. The old school family road trip remains the most popular type of family vacation!


Taking a road trip can not only provide togetherness, but be easy on the bank account, too. Here are a few ways taking a road trip can save you money yet yield rich experiences.

No Baggage Fees

Flying these days usually incurs baggage fees if you can’t fit everything into a carry-on. When you take a road trip, pack all you like! Or, more realistically, how much your car can carry along with you and your family. No need to worry about the three-ounce rule, either — bring full bottles of shampoo, lotions and sunscreen with you! And if you have a bicycle rack, why not bring your bikes around for some exploring at your destination, while at the same time getting some good exercise.

Family on a roadtrip

Family Road trip. Photo: Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime


Affordable Accommodations

Accommodations en route can vary from campsites to roadside motels to luxury hotels and everything in between to fit within your budget. Map out your route to see what accommodations can be found along the way, and where you may want to make overnight stops. Reservations are usually a good idea, especially if you’re road tripping during busy times of the year like summer vacation, or holidays. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to find a place to lay your head for the night.

One Pass for All

The National Parks have long been a favorite family road trip destination, which makes sense —  there’s something for everyone at the National Parks! What’s more, an annual pass costs $80 once and then it’s free entry for the rest of the year — for your carload, anyway, of up to four adults, including the pass owner. (Some restrictions do apply.) Keep in mind, too, children 15 years old and younger are always admitted free into National Parks.

packing up for the family roadtrip

Photo: Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime

Eat and Run

Someone I know (ahem, Dad) packs a snack bag on all of his road trips and dives in when hunger strikes. One thing that’s fantastic about a road trip is you can pack your snacks and meals and take them on the road with you. Pulling over to nosh is a terrific way to not only refuel but to stretch your legs and burn off some pent-up energy. Find a roadside park for fantastic picnicking and running around.

Car Karaoke

What would a road trip be without a karaoke-like singalong in the car? Create a playlist with your family’s favorite songs and pump up the volume. The energy that fills the car from belting out your favorite tunes is palpable and contagious and will surely help pass the miles.


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