Whether you’re vacationing for a few days or a few weeks, it’s important to keep the family budget  in mind. But keeping expenses down (without cramping your style) with kids along is sometimes tough. Here are 10 tips for budget-friendly traveling courtesy of HotelCoupons.com.

Plan Ahead

Before setting out on a family road trip, be sure to plan your itinerary ahead of time. First, map out your route. By planning your driving route early, you can avoid toll roads and also maximize your vacation time.

Find Reasonable Gas Prices

Typically, it’s much cheaper for families to travel by car than by plane. However, some parents are intimidated by rising gas prices. We recommend using helpful mobile apps like GasBuddy to find the most affordable fuel.

Pack Some Meals

On a recent road trip, we chose to pack at least one meal per day. On vacation, that can save a family of four anywhere from $125-$200 per week!  It’s easy to save money on breakfasts and lunches while traveling. You should consider packing granola bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix and more. Plus, you could keep a small cooler with fruit, water and juice. Keeping your kids’ favorite snacks in a treat bag can save you money at gas stations and restaurants.

Eat Like Locals

When you do decide to eat at restaurants on vacation, eating at local restaurants will help you save big. Our number one tip: ask around! Your hotel staff and locals you meet in town will be happy to recommend their favorite places, many of which will have lower prices than the nearby chain restaurants and tourist areas.

Stop for Goofy Roadside Attractions

When on a road trip, you’ll save money by checking out fun attractions along the highway. Whether you’re stopping to see Lucy the Elephant or the Leaning Tower of Pizza, your kids will love seeing these free crazy sights. Plus, you can snap some funny family photos for the vacation scrapbook or holiday card.

Enjoy Freebies

No matter how big a city or how small a town is, there are free things to do for families to enjoy. In addition to local parks, many towns offer free museums, gardens, tours and more. Check out some of our favorite free activities for families in top U.S. destinations at HotelCoupons.com.

Bring Your Pet Along

For families with pets, one of the biggest travel expenses isn’t even about your vacation – it’s for boarding and pet-sitting fees. To save on this expense, why not consider taking a trip with your family pet? Kids love it! Plus, many affordable hotels allow you to bring your pet along.


One hidden cost of traveling is excess roaming and data fees on your cell phone bill. While you should definitely carry your mobile phone with you for travel-related calls and emergencies, it’s best to unplug. So often we get frustrated with the kids for being glued to their electronics, but as parents we’re guilty, too. Put the phone or tablet away and you’ll get more out of your family vacation.

Choose Lodging with Extras

Whether or not you plan to unplug, you’ll save by choosing a hotel that offers amenities like free wireless Internet access, free breakfast, discounts on attractions and more. You may even want to choose a hotel with a laundry room so you can pack less on a longer vacation. If you’re flying, look for a hotel with an airport shuttle and avoid the pricey taxi ride.

Use HotelCoupons.com

Families can save 20 percent or more on hotel rooms when they use same-day coupon rates from HotelCoupons.com on vacation. HotelCoupons.com provides quick on-the-go access to the best hotel rates through the free mobile application, website and print coupon guides.

Share your best budget-friendly tips below in our comments section!

Anne Sandoval is a travel lover and content manager for HotelCoupons.com and Drive the Nation.