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How to survive a family road trip on a budget


Making the most of time on the road.

With having to battle lines at the airport, book expensive hotels and fork out for currency conversions – international travel isn’t without its pitfalls. So if you're looking for a budget-friendly alternative for your next holiday then why not find somewhere closer to home? A good old family road trip might be the answer. 

Whether it’s a quick Easter getaway, or a coast-to-coast adventure, a road trip could be a great short-term way to spend some time with the family and see more of Australia. Plus, with the help of these 3 tips, you'll be able to pull off a great family road trip while keeping your budget and wits intact. 

1. Book your accommodation in advance

The days of pulling into a cosy motel after a long day on the road and managing to get a room are long gone, especially if you’re planning your road trip during the busy school holiday period. Whether you’re planning to camp or book your own accommodation, doing your research and booking well in advance could be key, not only to ensure that you’ve got a place to rest your head, but because it’s likely to save you money as well. Generally the earlier you book, the cheaper the prices will be.

When it comes to searching for that perfect place, accommodation comparison websites will likely to be your best friend, as you’ll be able to compare a range of motels, hotels, holiday parks and even private accommodation all in one place to find the best match for your family’s budget and needs. If you do find a great price for accommodation online, it might even be worthwhile calling the hotel or motel yourself to see if they’ll match or better the online price.

Even if you’re planning to camp, you’ll be able to book a campsite months in advance. The best place to look is often on each state’s national parks website.

2. Perform a pre-trip car check-up

A road trip won’t be much of a holiday if you end up breaking down en route, which is why you’ll want to make sure your car is up to scratch before hitting the road.

It will always be a good idea to make sure your car is in good running order before making a big trip. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take it down to the mechanic for a full service, but it could mean making sure all your fluids are topped up, your tyres are in good condition and that you’ve got a spare tyre in case you get a puncture. 

3. Organise your snacks and entertainment

If you’re planning a road trip then you’re certainly going to need some snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy along the way.

Packing your own snacks is a must if you’re on a budget, but while treats like chips and chocolate may sound like a great way to placate hungry young mouths in the back seat, they might not actually be the best way to fill bellies. Instead, healthier snacks like fruit, nuts and muesli bars which are high in protein, healthy fats, or low in refined sugar will be a better way to fill everyone up and help to avoid sugar highs and lows.

Food and drinks will go some way to keeping the kids happy in the back, but that might not last long if you’ve got some serious kilometres to cover. That’s why it’s important to have a couple of options up your sleeve to keep the kids, and the adults, entertained.

Books, a favourite toy, or even a TV show on a tablet could do the job depending on how well your kids cope with motion sickness. But if you’re looking for a way to involve the whole family, listening to an audiobook or podcast together or even letting everyone take turns playing DJ could help pass the hours.

With enough rest stops, snacks and entertainment you’ll be at your destination with a happy family before you know it!

Kirsty Lamont is a Director at financial comparison website

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Before you act on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Applications may be subject to approval and fees and charges are payable. Terms and conditions apply and are available on request. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content.

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