One passion that I share with my friends is the love for travel.
But ever since most of them got married, our trips to far and off the beaten tracks have become less frequent.
Because first, it’s no longer that easy to go on unplanned and spontaneous trips when you have kids.
And second, the travel budget becomes a major concern when you have more important family and household expenses to consider.
However, for the past couple of years, my friends and I have discovered a great alternative to our old backpack-traveling days, one that is more practical, easier on the budget, but still as fun and memorable.
I’m talking about going on family road trips.
I actually remember my own parents taking me on road trips when I was a kid, and until now, I can still vividly remember how great they were.
Come to think of it, my love for travel was probably born out of those hours that I’ve spent on the road with my family.
So this summer, I encourage you to try an old-fashioned road trip. I assure you it will be a great family bonding experience.
Here are some practical tips on how to make it safe, fun and most of all, affordable and easy on the budget.
Most road trips are just a whole day affair, and that already saves you from hotel expenses. But if you’re planning an overnight road trip, then you should check out online group buying sites and look for hotel deals.
If you know someone who has a house along your route, then you can contact him or her and ask if your family can sleep over. Of course, spending the night with your relatives is also a great, and usually better, option.
Places To Visit
One great thing about doing a road trip is having a multitude of interesting places that you can visit at no cost at all.
Three of my favorite stopovers are old churches, the city hall and town parks.
It’s free to go to these places, and most of the time, a local museum or historical landmark is located just nearby where you can walk in for free, or at the very least, for a small donation.
Skip the malls and popular tourist spots – not only do they ask for parking and entrance fees but the food establishments around tend to be expensive as well.
Where To Eat
Speaking of food, I suggest that you do some research on the best and most affordable local restaurants along your route. Travel and food blogs are the best source for this information.
Avoid tourist traps that attract large hungry crowds, restaurants there are expensive. Instead, go to dining places that’s only popular among locals.
One effective way to discover them is to ask the locals themselves, particularly the vendors that sell outside churches and around parks.
Of course, the most affordable way to save money on food is to bring it yourself. Prepare sandwiches for snacks, a picnic basket for your meals (which you can eat at the town park), and a cooler full of juices, drinking water and other beverages.
Now that your road trip itinerary is all planned out, it’s time to make sure you don’t incur unnecessary expenses on vehicle breakdowns. This means you should have your car checked, make sure you have tools and your spare tire is in good condition.
Most importantly, map out the gas stations that you’ll be passing by along your route. Fuel prices vary from one town to another, so it’s best to research where gas is cheapest and load up there.
For example, did you know that gasoline is cheaper in Dagupan City than in Metro Manila; and fuel prices are more expensive in Quezon City, than in Alabang?
Knowing such information will certainly help you manage the highest cost item in a road trip, the fuel expense.
Hit The Road This Summer
A summer vacation need not be about going to a specific place and staying there for several days. It can simply mean having a quick change of scenery, and just spending a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Road trips are fun and I encourage you to try it with your family, I assure you it will be a unique family bonding experience for every one.
So go ahead and hit the road this summer.
Note: Snippets of this article has been featured in the April 2013 issue of Working Mom. Check out that issue for more road trip advise.