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It’s the beginning of road trip season, and we have a few trips planned for our family – all by car. While we do enjoy traveling and exploring different areas, we also are looking to save money and waste less when we travel. With a little preparation (for my car, using Mobil 1™ High Mileage oil and for packing, using packing cubes and prepping food ahead of time.
I’m no stranger to long road trips. Growing up, I often had to make the trip to NY from NC during the summer. Sometimes the trip would be broken up into two days, and occasionally we would try to make the trip in just one day. Even in college, I once drove to New York with friends for spring break. While the travels can be fun, they can also be pricey if you aren’t careful – and a little wasteful. We try to travel on the cheap and have learned a lot over the years when it comes to traveling with kids!
How to prepare for road trips…
On the car:
Oil change. I’m pretty meticulous about getting the oil changed on my older car. My car has well over 100k miles, and Mobil 1™ High Mileage oil is great for cars that have more than 75,000 miles. I’ve been using high mileage oil for a while, and I love that you can actually get more miles out of an oil change, saving time, money and reducing waste. I can get oil changes every 5000 miles instead of 3000 with the Mobil 1™ High Mileage oil!
I took my car to Walmart to get the oil changed. It was easy to get in and I was able to get some shopping done for my upcoming road trip, while my car was being checked out.
Did you know that you can take your oil to a Walmart Auto Care Center to be recycled? In fact, Mobil 1™ is giving Walmart customers a chance to win a Chevy Equinox, plus $10 off their next Mobil 1™ purchase at Walmart. One of the ways you can enter is by taking oil to an Auto Care Center to be recycled. Be sure to check out all of the details at the bottom of this post. Not sure what oil you might need? Check out Walmart’s oil selector tool to find out.
Battery checked. While I was getting my oil changed at Walmart, they went through a whole checklist on my car. One of the things was checking my battery. I don’t always think about my battery until it’s too late.
Tires checked and rotated. Most places should check the air in your tires and rotate the tires when you get your oil changed. I’m a stickler for making sure the tires are as safe as possible when driving my family.
Clean the car out. I feel like road trips just feel better when the car has a good cleaning – from the inside out. Having two kids means my car is full of food, papers and toys, so I do have to make a big effort to clear it out so we can start fresh when hitting the road.
Last summer I bought packing cubes and they turned out to be game changers! I could pack everyone’s clothes in an individual cube and it was so much easier to keep up with the day’s clothes. These four cubes held clothes for all four of my family members. And this was all we took for a week.
Figure out if where you are staying has laundry facilities – and if you’ll be able to wash clothes. I even take along travel size detergent.
Don’t forget your chargers! I even have a charging station (like a power strip, but for chargers) that I pack so we can plug all of our devices in at night and not run around a hotel room looking for everything.
I have several storage cubes around the house, and for road trips, I like to pack one for each kid with their choice of books, toys and car entertainment. My son is old enough that he can play with a device in the car, but I also know that too much time with a screen leaves him with a headache (and a bad mood.) He gets books, and a couple of coloring activities. My daughter gets some of her musical books and Sesame Street toys. I’ve also started giving her a coloring pad (with the markers that only color on that specific paper.) She’s also at the age where she will sleep for a few hours in the car, so we time trips around nap time. (See on the left, that cube is full of my daughter’s items. On the right, I have my son’s game system in a holder on the back of the seat. He will help get items for my daughter while I’m driving.)
Our biggest expense on the road is generally snacks and meals. I love stocking up on snacks, and even packing containers for each person (especially the kids) so they’re easy to keep up with and my kids can help themselves during the drive.
Figure out free side trips. Last summer when we drove from New York to North Carolina, we searched for hiking trails that were close to towns we were driving through. We hiked twice in the two days we traveled. (A good thing to search for is Kids in Parks – very family-friendly hikes are listed in various states!)
Pack picnic-style lunches. In addition to snacks, we pack food we can make lunches with. And everyone has a water bottle, which can be filled up along the way. If we’re gone for a week, we can always stop at a grocery store and pick up more food. It cuts down on spending, but also reduces waste since you’re not paying for a ton of packaging at restaurants. Plus, picnics on road trips are so fun for kids!
How do you road trip? I prefer to break things up into 6 or 8 hour drives, but I’ve been known to power through 12-13 hours (or more) in a day.