This weekend we took advantage of the 4 day weekend and the fact that soon but not soon enough we are leaving El Paso and needed to check out the surrounding area before we were done. So a trip to Albuquerque and White Sands was in the cards. That is the only thing I wanted to do before I left here, I have now done, so time please hurry up and get me the hell out of here ;)
Moving on, when road tripping with kids doesn't have to be expensive. I make sure I always take snacks, and plan our meals. Eating out 3 times a day, plus snacks can get expensive and totally unhealthy. Through out all our moves and trips, I have learned a few tips, that will hopefully help you guys out.
1. Purchase a small cooler. That way you can fill it up with ice, take some sandwiches for the first meal of the trip, cheese strings, fruit, or whatever else tickles your fancy.
2. ziplock bags with snacks and sandwiches are a must. Usually we leave early in the morning after feeding the kids breakfast, then they eat the bags of snacks I have prepared, and by lunch we eat the sandwiches. We are not that far away from home anyways to want to eat anywhere that we want to check it out, so the sandwiches are easy and handy. Also before your trip, make sure you purchase some bottles for your kids and yourself. Dh and I have this one : Water bottle and the kids have these: Water bottle
But honestly, there are so many different kinds in the market, you will find one that suits your needs.
That way we can purchase big bottles of juice/tea or gatorade (whatever is your families favorite) (which is cheaper) or add canned soda (the hubby) to it and some ice from the cooler and you got drinks for way cheaper. If you were to buy drinks every single time you stop, you will spend a lot more and more than likely not drink anything healthy. I can't even tell you how many gas stations we stopped at had absolutely no horizon chocolate milk containers or diet ice tea. And since you are stopping to pee anyways, they are easy to wash in the bathroom sink.
3. Buying big containers of goldfish, pretzels, nuts, or whatever else you like to snack on is a lot cheaper than buying individual packages and separating them into little ziplock bags is a breeze. You can even go green and get the reusable ones or get little bowls like these ones : bowls
By dinner time you should be further enough away from home that there is a cool new restaurant you want to check it out go ahead. You have earned it.
Now if you are doing a trip in which you will be staying in a hotel for a couple days or longer, or during a PCS, a little preparation can save you not only money but also calories. So for that all you need to do is just pack some plates, bowls, silverwares to take with you and book a hotel that carries a fridge/microwave in the room. They are usually not more expensive at all and can save you money.
By the time you arrive in town, make a pit stop at walmart, and get some soups or steamable meals. Walmart or any grocery store is now carrying steamable meals. Everything from veggies, to rice and cheese, to rigatoni. They are usually lower in calories and a couple of minutes in the microwave means you have a decent meal for way less than what it would cost you to go out to eat. Also with a fridge, getting a quart of milk and cereal means you got breakfast for the duration of your trip.
So its absolutely possible to save money/calories during a road trip. Just takes a little imagination and some planning.