Frugal (and other) thoughts from the road

By Stew

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Mrs. Stew, the brood and I are on the road this week. In fact, by this time next week, I personally will have driven 3,500 miles in the previous ten days. I have doing a lot of thinking about frugal travel.

In short: frugal travel is pretty much impossible, however here are a few thoughts:

Snacks

If you have a major road trip, there is no substitute for packing a few grocery store-bought snacks. Grocery stores are significantly less expensive than gas stations and convenience stores. My favorite snacks for the small cooler in the mini-van are: carrot sticks in water (or baby carrots), string cheese, Triscuits, licorice bites and Diet Pepsi.

The right snacks can save you a lot of money on the road and a little forethought might prevent you from having to go out to eat while traveling. Going out to eat and trying to limit spending means only one thing: fast food. I used to love fast food, but after this much traveling, the idea no longer interests me in the least.

Restrooms

I will pay extra for food if I know that a particular store has clean restrooms. We have a six year old girl, a seven year old girl and a three year old boy who has recently been potty trained. There is nothing worse than a filthy restroom under those circumstances and given the ages of our children, we do not have much choice but to use whatever is available.

Global Positioning

We do not have a GPS reciever, but if clean restrooms were marked via satellite, we would have a one.

Even without the ability to locate clean restrooms, GPS can help you save money on the road. The key to efficient travel is to limit the number of times you have to stop. The key to stopping less often is to get everything done in one stop. The worst thing that you can do is to stop for a meal and then have to stop for gas an hour later. Knowing how far Starbucks and Exon/Mobil are from the highway and from each other can help you save time and gas.

Other valuable tidbits of knowledge that a GPS navigator can include: malls with play areas for children, rest areas with open space, Targets, hotel information, restaurants that match your coupons.

Wet Wipes

I might start to sound like an OCD clean freek here, but the amout of bacteria that one comes in contact with on the road is really starting to frighten me. Heavy summer travel and warm weather puts germs everywhere. It is to the point where I do not want my children to wear flip-flops in the restroom or eat off tables in restraunts. The best I can do is to continually wipe down tables, door handles, airplane seat trays, feet, hands, faces with anti-bacterial wet wipes.

Put a package in the car, you will be glad that you did.

Article by Stew

Photo by viagallery.com


9 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Frugal (and other) thoughts from the road”

  1. Ace Says:

    Road trip! Awesome tips. Just to throw in one other tip is to make sure that your car is in shape and ready for the trip. In particular making sure your tires are properly inflated can save you a whole lot at the pump. I also like to keep a bunch of plastic bags in the car because you never know when you’ll need it for trash carrying stuff etc.

    Hope you have a fun and safe road trip!

  2. dramon Says:

    In addition, pack paper towels for the inevitable spill. If you have to stay in hotels, plan on which include free breakfast ( and what type) and in room refrigerators for drinks, etc. some of these can help save a bit as well.

    You might consider getting an entertainment book for where you are going. They provide 2 for one items for many museums,, etc.

    Check with local chamber of commerce for discounts available. In our area, the library offers discounts for local museums, which can provide an nice break from expensive stops.

    Costco tpically sells tickets to theme parks or restaurants at a discount as well – and is a great place to each cheap when traveling.

  3. Mami2jcn Says:

    We always take the portable DVD player and the kids’ handheld electronic games on long car trips.

    Good tips! Snacks are important to break up the monotony.

  4. Charity Lyman Says:

    Thanks so much for the tips!! I travel a lot and I also like to eat healthier. One thing I always do is pack the cooler. Those apples, carrots with ranch dressing, cut-up watermelon in a container, cheese sticks, etc are such a big help. Thanks again for the tips:)

    I would like to be entered in the GRABBBR giveaway please?
    I became a subscriber via your RSS Feed through MyYahoo.
    I also signed up for your email newsletter and activated it:)
    Thanks so much!

  5. tami Says:

    I have started to subscribe to groupon before trips to see if I can get any deals in the city we will be visiting. I personally love Hotwire and have found awesome deals. We also enjoy annual passes to national parks.

    Groupon has allowed us to go on a rafting tour, a jeep tour, have scub lessons and a two night stay at a cabin recently.

    I’ve been using wipes for 20 years on trips. I usually “clean” a hotel room upon check in. I make sure to get light fixtures, door handles and the remote. We also use them after pumping gas too.

    Enjoy!

  6. Candace Says:

    I second checking groupon beforehand, also get some restaurant.com certificates.

    Buying discount gas gift cards online.

    Personally, I think eating out is part of the fun. I hate to be stuck in a car all day then have to eat a squished PB&J, so when I travel on a budget I try to make meals more of an experience. We spend a little extra at the grocery store for the nice rolls, deli meat and cheese, and favorite treats. Then stop at a nice rest stop or park to get out, walk around, eat at a table, play. That helps curb my temptation to eat out.

  7. Samaj Jhaveri Says:

    Oh my goodness! It is like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pictures to drive the content home a bit, but other than that, this is informative blog. A outstanding read. Ill definitely return again.

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