Say Yes to a Last-Minute Road Trip! 9 Hacks for Packing and Saving Money

Go ahead and plan that getaway! We’ll show you how to make the process a whole lot easier.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Excited family of five packing for holiday trip, Cologne, NRW, Germany


Excited family of five packing for holiday trip, Cologne, NRW, Germany

Photo by: Westend61


If you’ve got the travel bug and are thinking about taking your family on a last-minute road trip, we say do it! Summer is the perfect time to plan a road trip adventure — and with a few hacks, you can save some money while planning and make packing up the car easier. So, grab your suitcases and the kids because it’s road trip time!

Be Flexible with Your Destination and Dates

When you start searching for those last-minute travel deals, flexibility is key. If you are looking for somewhere sunny or a place that is close to kid-friendly attractions, open up your location search and the dates you plan to travel to find better deals. It may be as simple as staying in a town a few minutes away from your original idea or leaving for vacation on a different day to take advantage of deep discounts.

Pack the Pantry

If your pantry is already stocked with snacks and food staples, bring the food with you! Load up a box or bin with food and plan your food budget around these items. This doesn't mean you can’t eat out while on your trip, but it will help cut some food costs.

Head to One Location

It can be tempting to squeeze in a few different hot spots when you are on a road trip. However, for last-minute planning — and to save a few bucks — stick to one location. You’ll spend less on gas and save money by staying in one spot.

Hotel Deals

If you are staying in a hotel, call them directly or check out their website for special deals. While you can definitely find savings on different hotel booking sites, sometimes, the best deal is on the hotel’s own site. So, check there before you book!

Save on Gas

Before you hit the road, be sure your car is running smoothly and isn’t due for any maintenance or oil changes. No one wants to deal with car issues while on vacation. When you are on the road, use apps like Gas Buddy to show you where to save at the pump. If you are a gas rewards member, scout out locations at your destination that accept your gas rewards.

Use Your Itinerary to Pack

If you are an over-packer, an easy hack to ensure you don’t fill up your suitcase with items you won’t wear is to break out the trip itinerary. Only pack the clothing items you’ll need for each day. The basics: pajamas, socks, and underwear. Then, outfits for each adventure during your road trip. After that, stop! Instead of tossing in a few more shirts and a couple extra pairs of shoes, stop when you have the clothes that fit your itinerary. Remember, you can always find a location to wash your clothes if needed and it will make the unpacking process so much easier when you get back home.

Pack the Snacks and the Fun

The key to a successful road trip with kids is to keep the snacks coming. So, here are a few of our favorite travel snack hacks and road trip activities you’ll want to pack before your next road trip.

Check for Items at Your Destination

There’s no need to pack items that will already be at your location. If you’re staying in a hotel and there will be a hair dryer in your room, don’t pack yours. If you’re staying at an condo that has a washer and dryer, you can pack less clothing and simply do a load of laundry while you’re there.

Overnight Bags

If you’ll be stopping at a location along the way to spend the night, pack an overnight bag. This way, you won’t have to drag all of the suitcases with you for just one evening. Be sure to toss in pajamas, a change of clothes, and anything you’ll need before bed — and items for when you wake up, like a toothbrush, toothpaste, basic makeup, and contact and eye glass items if needed.


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