Guest Post: Traveling on a Budget (Part 3)

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Now that you’ve learned how to get your food ready and organized for your road trip (Part 1 and Part 2), Natasha wants to help you know how to be frugal while on the road.  So, read up on the next part of her series as a Guest Blogger on Penny Pinchin’ Mom!

On the Road
Lots of planning and hard work have gone into the trip and now it’s time to hit the road!

What a Typical Meal on the Road is Like
We’ve driven about 400 miles, it’s time for gas. We stop at a gas station and everyone piles out of the van. My husband warms up any food in the microwave. I sit with the children at a picnic table, (if there are none available we lay down a blanket on grass), then I pull out the rest of the food from a cooler. We eat, take a restroom break, get back in the van, travel another 400 miles while eating lots of snacks on the way! Our breakfast, lunch, and dinner stops usually take us about 1 hour. See what we eat in Part 1.

Keep the food plan nearby so you can stick to it. If I lost the plan I’m afraid things would get a little crazy in our van! The food plan helps me to know what we’re eating for each meal, and how to ration the snack food throughout the day. Here are a few other things you can do to stretch your travel budget.

Pack a Cooler or Two
I usually pack two coolers one for frozen foods like hot pockets, and the other refrigerated foods. The hot pockets are surrounded by frozen water bottles to keep them extra cold.

Shopping While on Vacation
When my family travels to see our family, I  will typically take a trip to a grocery store the day before we head back home.  On my list will be refrigerated, frozen, and fresh produce that I could not bring from home. Shopping at a grocery store for lunch, rather than a last minute gas station lunch, will save you money. I also plan ahead and take any coupons that I think I might use.

Eating Out
If eating out is on the menu gather coupons before you leave! On a trip this past summer, my family stopped in the Kansas City area, a few weeks prior to our vacation I received a $50.00 gift certificate from Orbitz. I then looked at the Kansas City area, selected a restaurant and printed my voucher from We were able to save $25.00 by using this coupon. There are quite a few fast food coupons that come in the mail, keep them in your vehicle just in case you decide to stop for fast food.

One thing I like to do to keep my boys busy during our long trips is give them presents along the way. I don’t spend more than $10.00 on these presents. I will look for small toys, games, books, or candy necklaces, etc.,  while I’m out shopping and collect a few presents for each boy.  This time around I have some power ranger sticker/activity books from the Target Dollar Spot, candy necklaces from Walgreens that I used for a “filler item”, travel Hungry Hippo games that I bought for $0.99 each!, glow bracelets, and a few other toys items from our local Dollar Tree.

I will take the presents home, wrap them, and put their name on the presents so I remember what gift belongs to each boy. My boys don’t seem to care what’s inside, just received an unopened presents get them really excited. I love giving them presents along the way because it’s something new for them to play with and keeps them busy. I usually wait until they are bored or whining then hand them a present to open.

Hotel with Breakfast 
Because we are traveling 1800 miles plus one way we usually stay in at least one hotel. When booking a hotel I like to find those that will have some kind of continental breakfast-some are better than others. This gives me a break! Something else I recommend is asking for a room with a microwave/fridge, especially if your brining in your own meals.

Natasha shares her money saving tips at Saving a Bundle!