With AAA recently stating that an estimated 42.3 million Americans will be taking to the road for July 3rd-8th as part of the 4th of July holiday, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how we save while driving with kids especially since we’ve done a LOT of driving so far this year (>5000 miles!).
1. Eat breakfast before you go. This will not only save you on spending for food but it’s definitely the healthier option.
2. Pack snacks and lunch for the car so you again save on spending for food (and it’s usually much healthier!).
3. Make stops on an “as needed basis”. By doing #2 and eating in the car (when safe) or at a rest stop, your stops will not be wasted. Many times we find that we’re stopping at 11 am when Jolie needs a diaper change, but to stop again an hour later for lunch isn’t ideal. Make the passenger in charge of distributing the food safely.
4. Turn off the car when you do stop and are waiting in the car. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve driven when it’s been super cold and terribly hot, but we have a blanket for the cold and the windows down when hot. Usually it’s not for any extended time period so we also make sure that whoever is left in the car with the kids has the keys in case it does get uncomfortable.
5. Bring cash when driving in New England. In Connecticut gas stations have two prices, one for credit card payees and one for paying in cash. Of course the cash option is slightly less since the gas stations have to pay ~3.5% more usually on credit card purchases. And being that I live in Ohio, gas in MUCH more expensive in New England so every penny counts. Plus, it’s annoying seeing that lower price and not being able to buy it if I don’t have cash on me!
6. There are apps to find the cheapest gas while on the road. Honestly here, we have just started to look into this as we don’t want to waste time going far off the highway and prefer to just watch the prices as we cross over state lines, but this is definitely an option! Plus, sometimes the kid dictates when we need to stop so it can be a balance. I just recently read about the Gasbuddy app that is FREE for the iPhone/Android/Blackberry and I plan to try it out on our next road trip.
7. Find out if there are any tolls for your drive and what pass is used. Most of our driving has required the E-ZPass so we have (finally) gotten smarter and are getting the pass. We will save up to 50% on some tolls and skip the long lines for the non-pass holders since there are designated lanes for the E-ZPass.
7. (My husband highly suggests…) Make sure your car is ready for the road trip: oil change, fluids full, air filter clean, wipers work, tires aired, and gas up the night before. All of these things make for a more efficient car ride on how it rides. And you are less likely to breakdown if you’ve just had your car serviced or better yet, done the work yourself.
8. Double your mapping efforts, meaning don’t just rely on the GPS. Whether you’ve updated the GPS recently or not, it’s always good to have back-ups. I always print directions from Google Maps, and we often refer to the Maps app that the iPhone came with to make sure we are following the best directions. This happens on EVERY trip where one of these is different and the best way to save money here is to make sure you don’t get lost or take the long way.
9. Take the car that gets better gas mileage. This may seem obvious but when traveling with kids, we tend to take the largest car. Well, after a trip earlier this year where we spent a large portion of our budget on gas, we have re-examined our packing and now take the smaller car.
10. Be prepared overall with entertainment for your children. We have had to stop at the grocery store or mass merchandiser for water, etc on the road and the “mommy, this” comes out if she wants something. No way, we’ve got plenty of fun stuff in the car!