Road Trippin’ USA – Tips and Tricks for Saving Money While Traveling

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Here is a compilation of posts that I made while driving through PA, WV, OH, IN, IL, MO, AR, OK, TN, KY, and MD!

1st entry:

You can bet that during this super long road trip I will be seeking out ways to save money along the way, and maybe make traveling with an infant a little easier! Here are my tips from earlier today:

1) Most hotels (even the cheaper ones, such as the Days Inn in Cambridge, OH that we stayed at!) offer some sort of free continental breakfast in the morning. Take advantage of this! There are several reasons: it’s free, it’s usually typical breakfast fare (bagels, cereal, fruit, etc) that isn’t too greasy and won’t be sitting in your stomach on the long trip making you feel sick. As you can see from Biker Bob in this picture, we also brought along our own travel cups for coffee! This was great because we could take a nice amount of coffee with us, without dealing with the cheap, small styrofoam cups that the hotel had!
2) Consider packing a cooler with drinks and maybe lunches or dinners for the first couple of days. We ate hoagies while driving last night and then today had Chicken Caesar Salads from Costco. We saved money AND avoided the greasy fast food. IMPORTANT: consider what you’re packing, and don’t forget proper utensils. Yes, I forgot forks. We rocked out the salads at a picnic area outside of Indianapolis, IN with spoons that I had leftover from some drive-thru trip months ago in the glove compartment!!!!! :)
2nd entry:

Believe it or not, we are still on the road! Since Tuesday, we have traveled through 7 states (PA, WV, OH, IN, IL, MO, AR) and are currently in our 8th (TN)! I am happy to report, Lily Bean is holding up like such a trooper! She has been cheery and happy for just about the entire trip!

Today we visited Graceland in Memphis, TN, and I thought of a great tip. Many of you mamas out there are (or have husbands who are) putting yourself through school right now. Make sure you carry your student ID with you at all times! Biker Bob is currently in school, and we received a discount today on his admission by showing it!

3rd entry:

Howdy! We’re still have a fantastic time on our cross country trek! After driving from Memphis, TN to Nashville, TN yesterday morning, we toured the historic Belle Meade Plantation. We really wanted to try to squeeze the Country Music Hall of Fame into the day, but we were running out of time. We arrived with about an hour until closing.

Imagine our surprise, when we went to purchase our tickets, and discovered that tickets sold after 4 p.m. (they close at 5 p.m.) are automatically discounted from $20 to $12! We saved $16 total and had plenty of time to tour the museum! Obviously we didn’t read every single little thing, but we probably wouldn’t have done that anyway- Lily Bean was getting ready for bed!

So, your tip: Check and see if the place you want to visit offers discounts for arriving later in the day. If you don’t mind that you might not spending hours there, it might be a great option for saving money while still getting the general idea!

4th entry:

What saved us the most money on this trip? Believe it or not, our cooler did! Before we left I spent $9 for 2 cases of soda and one case of bottled water.

Every morning we used the free ice from the machine at each hotel to refill the cooler before hitting the road. We never once had to stop for drinks, except for a coffee here and there. Many times when we got lunch we were able to just get the sandwich instead of the whole meal b/c we didn’t need a drink.

It was easy, affordable, and well worth the space it took up on the back seat!!

Well, after traveling 3,000+ miles in 10 days (over 30 hours of car time) with a 6 month old, Biker Bob and I have compiled a list of the absolute must haves of any trip (especially a road trip).

Top Five Items to Bring When Traveling with an Infant

1. Baby Carrier of Some Sort Whether we were strolling through Graceland or touring a plantation, the carrier was the perfect way to give Lily Bean a break from the car seat. It allowed her more mobility than with a stroller.

2. Pack ‘N Play Not only did this serve as the perfect crib size, it was super easy to take down and put back up (literally, took about 30 seconds). It also gave us the piece of mind in knowing that it was clean- something you can’t be sure of when borrowing a crib from a hotel; we also knew that it was safe and hadn’t been recalled. It folded down into its own carrying case and hardly took up any room in the car.

3. Snap ‘N Go Stroller Frame
This lightweight stroller frame is so perfect for short and long trips alike! There are several different brands, but all are very similar. Most standard sized infant car seats simply snap right into this frame. No worries, no fuss.

4. Bag of Toys No need (or room in the car) to pack everything but the kitchen sink that baby might want to play with. Instead we packed a smaller bag (like the reusable grocery bags) full of Lily Bean’s small toys. We had enough to rotate them to keep her from getting bored. She got so excited when we would pull a new toy out for her to play with!

5. Inflatable Bath Tub Lily Bean LOVES her baths! We picked up this inflatable bath tub at a consignment sale for $1.50. It folded up to a fraction of its size for easy packing, blew up in under 5 minutes, and let Lily Bean enjoy her bath in the hotel!


Top Five Items to Bring When Traveling in General

1. GPS Seriously, if you don’t have one of these, you should really consider buying one. The price has come down substantially over the past few years. Ours has gotten us out of more jams than I can count. Great for directions, mileage, time estimates, or even finding points of interest, like gas stations.

2. Cooler – I’ve said it before, this thing can save you boatloads of money. Load it up with drinks from home, keep it cold with free ice from your hotel, and enjoy plenty of beverages while traveling!

3. Snap Capps – Love these!!!! I got them for Biker Bob for Christmas as a joke because he loves soda so much. We are quickly learning that we can’t be without them! They snap right onto any can beverage, turning it into a bottle with a lid! They prevent spills and keep drinks from going flat. A must have!

4. Travel Mugs – Another great money saver and overall convenience! Fill up your mug with the free coffee offered at the free continental breakfasts served at many hotels. It will stay hot and is much nicer than the small, often lidless Styrofoam cups that most hotels have.
5. iPod or MP3 Player You can probably imagine that when you are driving 3000+ miles, you are bound to lose radio stations often and get plenty of static. Consider downloading your favorite albums onto an MP3 player for hours of great music! We used an FM transmitter (about $15) to play the iPod songs on our car stereo.

Do you have travel tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

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