Spring break and summer vacation are on the horizon, and many families are planning road trips and family travel over the next several months. While traveling as a family is an opportunity to create wonderful memories, it can also be cause for stress, especially when considering logistics and budgetary concerns.
With Dream Dinners’ 16 years of experience helping families spend more time together through assembled meals, they’ve learned a few tricks for making family travel less stressful and less expensive, too. Here are a few that will help your family enjoy time together this spring and summer:
- Consider a vacation rental over a hotel. Having access to an entire home means use of a fully stocked kitchen, the ability to store ingredients for homemade meals, and being able to enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner together around the table more easily – which ultimately means spending less money eating out while on vacation. Plus, it gives the kids (and the parents) room to spread out. As an added bonus, if the kids have an early bedtime, mom and dad can stay up a bit later.
- Roll your clothes instead of folding. When you travel, too many items means going over your carry-on limit or overfilling your trunk. Too few items means being forced to spend money on items you’ve left behind. One way to minimize the number of suitcases without sacrificing the items you really need is to roll clothes instead of folding them. Not only do they take up less space, but as a bonus, they also don’t wrinkle as easily as folded clothes.
- Pack your meals with you. One of the biggest expenses when traveling as a family is food. Eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner means spending most of your travel budget on restaurants instead of family excursions and activities. Consider packing some of your meals with you. Dream Dinners offers a variety of meals each month that are packed in travel-ready pans. Simply pack them frozen in your cooler, store them at your vacation rental and pop them in the oven for a quick, easy, and stress-free family dinner.
- Buy travel-friendly snacks in bulk. This is especially helpful on road trips. It’s easy to overspend on snacks if you’re buying from gas stations each time you stop for a break. Buying snacks in bulk and pre-packaging them in individual portion sizes is a great way to avoid paying premium prices once you’re on the road.
- Pack a picnic lunch. Driving during mealtime? For a family of four, it is easy to spend more than $30 even at the most inexpensive drive-through restaurants. Consider packing a picnic lunch instead. This can save money and it allows you to feed your family a healthier option. Pull into a rest stop, let everyone stretch their legs and make it festive with a checkered blanket and colorful straws.
- Pack a toy per day for each child. Especially when traveling with younger children, it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve to entertain the kids throughout the day. Consider a trip to the dollar store to pick up a few new toys for each child. Pack them in individual zip-lock bags with the child’s name and a day of the week on the outside. Whether while riding in the car or having some downtime after lunch, opening a new toy each day means the kids will stay entertained and excited throughout your trip.
- Pack reusable water bottles. This works for air travel or car travel. Bringing reusable water bottles for the whole family that can be filled at water fountains or restaurants saves money and reduces waste.
- Research fun games to play in the car. It’s fun to go beyond the basics of I Spy and the License Plate Game. Try Road Trip Bingo, giving kids a printable bingo card and a zip-lock bag of pennies to mark the items they see on the road. Twenty Questions is another fun game that allows for participation by the whole family, and can be played by kids as young as three and four.
“It can be so easy to get caught up in our everyday lives, but family travel can take us out of our routines and help us refocus on what’s most important in life: family,” said Stephanie Allen, co-founder of Dream Dinners. “It’s Dream Dinners’ goal to make family time possible, whether at home or while away on vacation. When families make the effort to create memories and spend more time together, the payoff is priceless.”
For information on Dream Dinners, or to browse current menu offerings, visit dreamdinners.com.
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