Football season is finally here! For many of us, that means putting on school colors, prepping the menu for a good old-fashioned tailgate, and hitting the road to cheer on the team, home or away. These weekend road trips can add up fast if you don’t know where to look for the right priced hotels, restaurants and other travel amenities.
Weekend (Website) Warriors
For weekend road trips, saving money starts before you even leave the house. First and foremost, make sure your vehicle is in good working order. There’s nothing more frustrating than a flat tire or an overheated engine when you’re trying to make good time or are in unfamiliar territory.
To find the cheapest gas at home and away, download the Gas Buddy app http://www.gasbuddy.com/. Saving a few cents at the pump can really add up over the course of a long trip. When you travel with a group of friends or families, a website like Travefy https://travefy.com/makes splitting costs a breeze and even includes neat features such as an itinerary builder.
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My husband and I make an annual trip to Norman to watch our favorite football team play (Boomer Sooner!). In the past, we’ve been lucky enough to stay with friends, but with a 3-year-old and one on the way, we typically opt for hotels these days.
In my experience, travel websites like Orbitz or Kayak (http://www.kayak.com) are a great way to find the best hotels. You can get a peek at the rooms, compare pricing, and read reviews from other families who have stayed at the same location. Look for a place with amenities such as an indoor pool or free breakfast and you can include what would have been the added expense of a meal and entertainment onto your hotel bill.
A Quick Bite
If you can, grab a meal at home before you get on the road. Fast food may seem like a cheap option, but the costs can add up when you’re feeding the whole family. Or, better yet, pack your own meals or snacks so whether you’re at the ballpark or on the road you won’t overspend on snacks. Pretzels, trail mix, cheese cubes, apple slices and baby carrots are easy to eat on the road (and healthy, too!) Try using baby-food jars or mini food storage containers for peanut butter or dip.
When you arrive at your destination, snag a newspaper or a circular. You’re likely to find restaurants advertising buy-one-get-one or kids-eat-free meals. If you book a hotel room with an eat-in kitchen, you can even pack supplies into a cooler and make your own meals.
No matter how you get to where you’re going, use these tips and tricks and you’ll arrive with a little more spending money in your pocket.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens