5 Fun and Frugal Ideas for Family Road Trips
Road trips are basically the classic American vacation when it comes to frugal travel. You can combine multiple agendas with each trip and plan picnics for extra savings. Bringing a tent or travel trailer along for the ride really maximizes your money on road trips as well, since you can control accommodation costs in a way that suits your savings goals. Here are five fun and frugal ideas for road trips that you can take with the whole family this summer. (See also: How to Survive a Road Trip)
Think you can’t tour wine regions with the kiddos? Think again. By choosing regions that offer more than just wine touring, it’s possible to work in the tasting stops that Mom and Dad want to include and still have activity options for the rest of the family. Finger Lakes Wine Country, for example, offers numerous vineyards and wine tasting opportunities, as well as waterfalls, parks, hiking trails, and museums, all within the family-friendly Finger Lakes region of New York. There are also a number of wine regions in Oregon, which is another state offering much more than wine when it comes to travel. Crater Lake National Park, coastal fishing opportunities, and more are available when traveling to Oregon. One of my favorite places to combine wine tasting with road trips is the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia. Beaches with restaurants offering $6 buckets of steamer clams, free cultural demonstrations of Acadian history, festivals, and more can be explored with the whole family while still making time for the wines of Nova Scotia.
While road trips to parks in general are great for frugal family fun, national parks offer exceptional value when it comes to the number of options you have for exploring, camping, swimming, hiking, and more. Shenandoah National Park for example, isn’t far from Washington, D.C. That makes it within a day’s drive for millions of Americans, and easily accessible for international visitors flying into the U.S. capital. Another national park with superior scenery and ocean access is Acadia National Park. It offers camping, hiking, and historic horse and carriage trails throughout the park. It’s also popular with bike riding enthusiasts and fall foliage photographers.
Yes, gas prices are up. But if you’re incorporating picnic lunches and hiking stops along the way, scenic drives are still some of the most affordable road trips you can take together as a family. One of the most beautiful places in North America to do this is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire. It weaves through the White Mountain National Forest with plenty of stopovers to hike, enjoy natural water slides, and just hang out with nature in general. It’s also great for regular road trips with Rover, as dogs are welcome on the hiking trails.
Those looking for more science-related ideas for road trips might try the driveable solar system model in northern Maine, if you happen to be passing through. It’s one of many options for affordable family fun in Aroostook County that I’ve written about previously on Wise Bread. Bottom line? Road trips are still a financially-viable option for family fun this summer. Just make sure you plan ahead and download some appropriate travel apps for family road trips. This one preventative measure will ensure you’re able to handle logistics and entertainment emergencies with ease.
Waterfront Park Pavilions
If you don’t have a pool or a nearby swimming hole, consider shorter road trips to waterfront parks with rentable pavilions. Team up with another family to share the daily cost of renting the pavilion and let the kids have as much sun, sand, and splash time as they can handle. Most pavilions at least have electricity and water to go along with the shaded picnic tables. Some, like Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula, OH, even have Wi-Fi, perfect for if you need to fire up the Netflix subscription and watch a movie while you wait for an unexpected rain shower to pass. Waterfront park and beach pavilions are one of my favorite frugal strategies for event planning. Weddings, birthday parties, family reunions, and more can be handled at these places for less than the cost of hotel room.
Whether you scored some inexpensive concert tickets or need to take several road trips for your children’s sporting competitions, chances are there’ll be some tailgating going on. Tailgating is a party form unto itself, with resources for gear, pre-game activities, and recipe books galore. Two of note are Fan Fare and The Tailgating Cookbook. Bonus? Since partying from the back of a truck is sort of the name of the game, nobody’s going to think you’re a cheapskate for bringing your own food to prepare. In need of inspiration? Here are several tailgate menu ideas to get you started.
Road trips are a great way to take on family travel if flights aren’t in your budget. So pack up the grill, toss in the tent, and get ready to create some memories this summer.
Have you taken some family road trips that are particularly memorable?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for any purchase made through these links.