Finding ways to save money here and there can be hard, and I think we can all use a little inspiration now and then in our lives, so every month this year, I plan to publish some of the things we did to stay within our budget during the previous month.
March was a month where it felt like we spent more money than we saved. Long road trips will do that to you I guess. Those gas pumps really suck your wallet dry. But in reality, there are lots of ways to save money while travelling – and they add up fast!
So here are five ways we saved money this month:
How To Save Money On Road Trips
- Took our own coffee for the road. This is easy for me, because I’m not a coffee drinker. Gabriel however, has mentioned several times that he’s like a coffee IV drip, and he’s gotten really good at mixing up a thermos (or two) of coffee before we hit the road, and I’m happy to report that we didn’t spend any money on gas station coffee this trip. That saved us up to $10 each way.
- Bought a store loyalty card. If you buy a Walmart gift card, and use it at the fuel pump, you get three cents off per gallon. That may no seem like much, but it adds up! We also have a Mapco loyalty card, which is pretty similar.
- Took our own snacks. This time around, I decided to treat the kids to a few pretty traditional travel snacks (like potato chips) BUT rather than buying them at a convenience store a long the way, we bought them here and divvied them up into snack-sized Ziploc bags. We also made our own summer sausage, and dried apples to take.
- Cooked our own food. Once we reached our destination, we paid a visit to the local grocery store to buy some staples – primarily meat, sweet potatoes, and eggs. Frankly, with my husband’s food allergies, eating out for the most part, is becoming more trouble than it’s worth. Since we were staying with family, this wasn’t an eat-out type of trip anyway, and I was more than happy to go grocery shopping while there since it kept me from having to lug a cooler (and buying ice), which we didn’t have room for in our car. Later this month, we’ll be staying in a hotel for several days, and I anticipate taking the slow cooker and maybe the electric hot plate along so we can do the same.
- Took books to read for entertainment. RedBoxes are everywhere these days – and they’re so handy! Pick up a movie for the kids at stop one, and return it at stop two. I know I’d be tempted to take advantage of that if we had a portable DVD player, but I’m glad we don’t. I think it’s better for the kids to learn to look out the windows and entertain themselves. We try to point out interesting things that we pass, make conversation, and we bring books. Coloring and activity books are especially great for older kids. This trip, we pulled out several children’s books that have been in storage for a while, and there was much excitement about the return of favorite stories such as “Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed” (Really? I mean, really! THAT story? Again?), and Martha Speaks.
It’s hard to estimate exactly how much money these five things saved us on our last road trip. After all, the cost of food (had we eaten out), gas, and entertainment can vary widely, but it’s easily over a $100 – after all, it only takes a few restaurant meals to make burn through that much.
What are your best tips for traveling frugally?