Last week, we decided that we wanted to surprise the kids with an end-of-the-school-year last minute family road trip to Mackinac Island (a family road trip they’d been begging to go on for a few years). We thought a last minute family road trip might have been a challenge to pull off, but with the help of Swagbucks, we did some research, found an inexpensive hotel, and made our plans. Here are our top tips for how to plan a last minute family road trip.
How to Plan a Last Minute Family Road Trip
Disclosure: Swagbucks is free to use – I’ve been using it since 2009! All links below to Swagbucks are referral links – I earn 10% of any points earned as a result of my referral.
How to Find a Hotel
I always start my hotel search with Swagbucks. I login to my account and open Expedia to find the best rates on the area hotels. With a bigger family, we’ve found that using Expedia can help us to identify the hotels with rooms that are big enough to safely sleep all of us.
You can earn cashback when you book on Expedia through Swagbucks, plus Expedia has member’s only pricing that can often save you money over booking directly with the hotel property. On our recent last minute road trip, we saved over 20% with Expedia on the cost of our hotel room. Plus, we’ll get an additional 3% rebate from Swagbucks once we’ve completed our stay.
How to Prepare Your Vehicle
Hopefully you regularly maintain your vehicle and are ready to hit the road anytime, but if not, schedule a DIY Date Night and change the oil together before you leave.
A quick clean up of the inside of your vehicle will also help to make the trip more enjoyable, and it never hurts to take your vehicle cleaning kit along in case of any messes along the way.
What to Pack for Road Trip Entertainment
Keeping the kids from getting stir crazy in the car can be a challenge, but we’ve got you covered. Throw together a road trip travel activities bag for each of the kids, print off and laminate the Road Trip Scavenger Hunt for Kids, and be sure to make a quick stop at the library to pick up some books, CDs, and/or movies.
While we limit technology on shorter road trips, we enjoy using our personal devices on longer road trips. Since our library recently started loaning out mobile hotspots with unlimited WiFi, we’re planning to check one out for our longer family road trips this year so the kids can watch JellyTelly on their Kindle Fires and I can work on my Chromebook while we’re driving down the road.
How to Plan Which Attractions to Visit
Swagbucks is my best friend when it comes to finding fun family-friendly attractions along the way or at our family road trip destination. For our recent trip to Mackinac Island, I was able to find discounted tickets for the ferry ride to the island as well as many of the island’s attractions.
Be sure to check out: Summer Day Trips for Families
How to Save Money on Road Trip Food
In the past, we’ve frequented fast food joints all along the way as we’ve driven to and from our family road trip destinations. What we’ve found, however, is that we often end up spending more on food than we do on enjoying the destination itself.
This time, we packed a small cooler with healthy snack food items (i.e. hard boiled eggs, chunk cheese, lunch meat, veggies, hummus, fruit, crackers, squeeze pouches, granola bars, etc.), limiting our dining out to one meal a day.
Related: Save Money on Family Travel
It took us less than 48 hours to plan our end-of-the-school-year last minute family road trip. Using Swagbucks, we were able to save money and find some great resources to help our family road trip be more enjoyable!