Road trips can be a budget-friendly way to travel but families in many stages of life get overwhelmed with planning a family road trip. I’m here to relieve some of the stress with my series on tips for a family road trip budget, starting with lodging.
With many years’ experience planning road trips, traveling, and finding lodging on a budget we’ve learned a lot, both the easy and the hard way. Here are some of the tips we learned about budget-friendly lodging along the road.
13 Lodging Tips for a Family Road Trip on Budget
- Pack a tent! You can save money and enjoy extra adventure if you camp for all or part of your road trip. Our family found that alternating between hotels and campsites with no more than 2 nights in a row camping works best for us. Check campsite amenities before booking a stay as you will want to know what to expect in terms of bathroom facilities, showers (hot water? quarters required?), water, and electric hookup.
- When camping look for state or national parks as they are generally cheaper and combine an attraction with lodging for a great rate.
- Not a fan of camping? You don’t need a tent! Check prices for campgrounds that have cabins. Often they are a happy medium between tent and hotel.
- Sign up for hotel rewards and cash in points for free nights, gift cards, etc. when able to.
- Hotels with indoor pools are great sanity savers when you travel with kids.
- Ask if there is an extra fee if you need a crib or extra bed.
- Look for hotels that include breakfast or are near a grocery store where you can grab some food and snacks.
- If staying near a city look for an area that has a selection of hotels to choose from as prices are often better.
- Book your hotel on the outskirts of the city or near an airport versus downtown. You may have to drive or take transportation in to see things but it is usually cheaper than downtown hotel prices and their parking fees. Make sure you check prices before booking. Occasionally you can find a killer deal downtown.
- If the rate seems too good to be true check reviews. The voice of horrible experience taught us that cutthroat rates sometimes mean miserable stays. (No matter what rate you pay, check for signs of bedbugs as soon as you walk into your room. Thank goodness, no experience on that one so far.)
- Check deal sites for hotel offers. However, be careful to read the fine print on an offer before booking. We haven’t always had success with these type stays and generally book direct.
- Skip the middle man and see if there is a special discount for being a hotel rewards member. The middleman occasionally saves a few dollars but you often find just as good a deal if you join a rewards program. You also have more options if you need to cancel or run into any booking trouble when you book direct.
- Don’t sleep in your car. Not only will you miss out on valuable rest after and before long drives, if you aren’t careful you can get seriously ill from improper ventilation, add extra aches and pains, and add a level of grouchiness no family needs on a road trip. We’ve experienced a few of those.
Are there any budget-friendly lodging tips you think we missed?
Before you go, don’t forget to check out my tips for how to pack for a road trip with less stress.