Road Trip Tips and Packing Hacks for Vacation with Kids!

Jun 19, 2021 | Budgeting Tips, Travel, Video

Get your family road trip ready with the best road trip tips and travel hacks. Be prepared to save LOTS of money and your sanity, too!

Jordan Page sharing road trip tips and packing hacks, from Fun Cheap or Free

Road tripping with kids isn't for the faint of heart. Especially when you've got 8 of 'em that are 10 and under! As you probably know, we take our kids on a lot of trips, both vacations, and work trips. I get a lot of questions on how we manage long car rides! So I wanted to pop on and give you my best road trip tips and packing hacks.

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I'm talking packing, traveling, and how to do it affordably. We'll go over the best way to listen to audiobooks, our favorite ways to keep from spending an arm and a leg on food while we're gone, and the most convenient ways to pack for a trip.

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Aren't those road trip tips great? Keep scrolling to get all of the deets that I talked about in the video!


FOOD AND SNACKS

Food and snacks can really break the bank when you're on a road trip or vacation. We started doing some things outside of the box and it has helped us to save so. much. money. Start following these tips and you'll start saving money on vacation, too!

INDIVIDUAL SNACK BAGS

snack bag for road trip, from Fun Cheap or Free

We pack a large, gallon-sized bag full of non-perishable identical snacks for each kid. When they start complaining about being hungry, which is usually 15 minutes down the road, we give them the whole bag.

We tell them up front that it has to last them the whole trip, so once it's gone, it's gone! If they do have anything leftover, we'll take them to the pool with us or save them for the drive home.


PACK FOOD FROM HOME

Bringing our own food from home really helps us to keep from eating out at least three times a day! We bring plenty of non-perishable items, such as chips, veggie straws, snacks, bread, syrup, and treats. We'll pack these in my favorite pop-up bags. I also always bring drink packets with me. I prefer the ones with caffeine to help give me a little pick-me-up, but you can also get them without. This is a way for me to ensure that I'll drink the water even if it tastes gross…They make anything taste great!

When we're driving somewhere, we'll also load up a cooler and bring a lot of cold items. I'm talking milk (freeze it before taking it on a long trip), cheese, eggs, frozen waffles, frozen meals, hot dogs, lunch meat, condiments, and so much more!

Even if you're staying in a hotel that doesn't have a kitchen, you can bring your own toaster and still be able to bring a lot of this food. You can reheat almost anything in a toaster bag. We've even brought our own small microwave when the hotel didn't have one of those! If they don't have a refrigerator, then you can get fresh ice from the hotel in your cooler every day to keep all of your food cold. There's seriously a solution to everything!

However, don't think that bringing your own food means that you have to only eat in for the whole trip! Choose a meal or two (depending on how long you're going to stay) that you want to eat out. But you'll be amazed at how much money you'll save on food that can go towards other fun things on your trip!


ROAD TRIP ENTERTAINMENT

Jordan page using earbud, from Fun Cheap or Free

Road trip entertainment is key to keeping everyone, both kid and parent, happy on a long drive! We'll bring multiple movies with us to keep the kids entertained on the drive. We have a DVD system built into our van, but we've also used the portable DVD systems and they work great, too.

Wireless earbuds are essential to keeping Bubba and I entertained during the drive. I usually sit in the back with the kids and I love to listen to audiobooks on Audible to keep my sanity during all of the kid movies! Bubba will listen to his favorite audiobooks while he's driving and it allows him to focus while still listening to his favorite books.

Since you know that I love to give you a good deal, I've got a little treat for you! Get a 30-day free trial to Audible with one credit to buy any title in the premium selection—yours to keep. You're welcome! 😉


PACKING TIPS

These are some of our favorite things that we use for travel. Follow these road trip packing tips and you'll always have what you need!

PACKING ESSENTIALS

girl holding hair bag, from Fun Cheap or Free
  • Hair Bag – There's nothing worse than going on a trip and realizing that you've forgotten all of your hair essentials! To keep that from happening, I always grab one of our hair bags that we keep packed at all times. This holds all of our hair-styling essentials in it, such as hair gel, my favorite $5 hairbrush, bows, hair ties, and scrunchies (use the code JORDAN15 for 15% off!).
  • Packing Pods – More expensive does not always mean better quality! Each person in our family gets a different color and it makes it super easy to know which is which. We can fit our entire family's pods into a large suitcase or two. It keeps us from having small suitcases for each person when we don't need that many.
  • Pool Bag – If you're going somewhere tropical or with a pool, then take a bag that you can put all of your wet things in. We use Ikea bags, but you can also use a plain garbage bag if you don't have one. This gives you something to pack your towels in for the pool or beach.
  • Dirty Clothes Bag – We always bring a laundry bag or garbage bag to put all of our dirty clothes into. This gives us a place to store them when we take them off at night and keeps them all together until we get home.

EXTRA THINGS WE PACK

  • Activity Bag – We take one backpack and fill it to the brim with anything that our kids may want to do while we're there. It has coloring books, crayons, blank notebooks, workbooks, our Leapfrog Learning System and books, and car games.
  • Fanny Pack – Yep, you read that right! I'll use a fanny pack when I don't feel like carrying a big diaper bag around. It saves my back and keeps my arms free to carry other things or keep up with kids.

OTHER RANDOM ITEMS

You wouldn't be packing for a trip if you didn't need a bunch of random items, right? Here's my list of random but essential things to bring on your road trip.

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

Jordan holding disposable cup, from Fun Cheap or Free
  • Baggies – We'll bring a variety of baggies that we can put snacks in to take to the pool or store leftovers in. They're also great for storing treasures from the beach!
  • Disposable Cups and Plates – It never fails that we end up staying at a place with our kids that only has breakable cups and plates! We always bring our own from home just in case we need them. We'll bring a Sharpie and write names on the cups so that we can wash and reuse them for drinks or snacks. They're also great to put nuggets and fries in the car.
  • Insulated Tumbler – I HAVE to drink cold drinks, so I never leave home without my favorite tumbler. I just fill it up with ice and then I have a cold drink wherever we go!
  • Bibs – We use these in the car, at restaurants, and where we're staying.
  • Travel High Chair – If you have little ones, then you know the importance of a high chair during mealtime! Invest in a travel high chair if one isn't provided where you're staying.

LAUNDRY ESSENTIALS

  • Laundry Detergent – I like to collect samples of laundry detergent pods from either Costco or in the mail. You can also bring your own from home in a plastic container so that they don't bust during travel. This allows you to do your laundry on vacation, whether you have a machine or not. You can always wash them in the sink or tub if you have a spill that can't wait until you get home.
  • Travel Steamer – As you learned in my laundry video, I absolutely despise ironing! I much prefer steaming our clothes, so I always pack my travel steamer.

OTHER ESSENTIALS

  • Grocery Sacks – These are great to use as garbage bags in the car and to put random things in where we're staying.
  • Vitamins, Meds, and Bandages – It's always better to be safe than sorry when you're on a trip! This allows us to take our normal vitamins, as well as being prepared for any accidents that may occur. We also bring melatonin, because there's nothing worse than not being able to sleep when you're not at home!
  • Multiport Wall Charger – As I talked about in my packing tips post, it's always best to bring your own multiport charger if you usually have quite a few things that you need to plug in at night. There's nothing worse than needing an outlet and not having one!

Whew, well there you have it! My best road trip and traveling tips. I'm curious, what are your best traveling hacks? Let me know in the comments!

Image with text that reads "road trip tips" from Fun Cheap or Free

Want more traveling hacks?

Safe travels!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free

10 Comments

  1. KD

    Dollar store CLIPBOARDS in your activity bags. Our kids rip out the pages in the color books and use the clipboard to color. Saves fights over book hogs.

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      Oh, that’s a great idea! It also gives them a hard surface to color on in the car. Thanks! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jenn

    Hoopla is a free audiobook service that we have access to through our public library. I have access to tons of audiobooks for free.

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      That’s awesome and a great option!

      Reply
  3. Samantha Conkle

    The library will have audiobooks for free. You download their app. At my library, it’s overdrive. Tons of books and audiobooks for free. You will have to wait for popular titles. We are limited to a 21 day checkout period. However, it’s free with a library card. We use the Carnegie Library and we can order any print book or book on CD from any library in our state. You have to wait a little bit of time, but it’s FREE.

    Reply
    • Fun Cheap or Free

      That’s SUCH a good idea!!!

      Reply
  4. Bily Bumer

    Great tips! Thanks

    Reply
  5. Stacey S

    Hi,
    Thanks for your tips.
    You asked for an audiobook–I really enjoyed Saving Ceecee Honeycut by Beth Hoffman. I think it has a feel of a mix of Steel Magnolia and Fried Green Tomatoes.

    Reply
  6. Amy Madsen

    My kids get tired of watching the same movies we have, and it stresses me out a little to take library movies and have to keep track of them the whole trip. If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, though, you can stop at a Redbox and rent a movie (or 2) your kids haven’t seen and return it down the road!

    Reply
    • Kenzie Baney

      What a great idea!!

      Reply

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